Not Prepared For An Early Spring

I know I'm usually the first to say that seeing an American robin is NOT a sure sign of spring since they are in the US all winter if you know where to look, but yesterday while scouting locations for some spring programming for the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area we heard robins singing on territory! On top of that, we heard a red-winged blackbird.  Didn't see it, but heard it and in my book, that means spring in Minnesota. Also, look behind the robin's chin in the above photo--that's a full on bud! As much as I've enjoyed a winter without shoveling and snow emergencies, I plan a lot of my work based on the slow birding of March, that usually still winter for us.  How can I keep my deadlines if spring is going to happen and Minnesota is having 50 degree days already?  Blerg.

I usually do not see or hear red-winged blackbirds until late March so yesterday was a surprise. I will get some of my migration fix on.  Rivers and Wildlife will be the first birding festival I'll attend in my rather action packed program schedule in the coming months (I'm giving my Techno Birding program that talks about the latest and greatest in technology and birding. Even if you've seen this program before, it's different.  Technology for birding changes all the time).  I haven't been to Nebraska for a few years and even though this is work, I'm so looking forward to birding this area again.  I'll admit that Israel has totally spoiled me for a crane blind experience, but it's always a delight to see the huge amounts of cranes foraging in the fields and hear the constant call of a few hundred thousand sandhill cranes...oh and I'll hear my first western meadowlarks of the season--love that bird call!

And I'm going to go to Kearney SLR free--even if I don't have an adapter, I'm very pleased with the photos I get hand holding the iPhone to my scope (both the robin photos are iPhone scoped).  I'm going to use this as a spring board to only digiscope with my iPhone.  I did it in New York but we didn't really do that much in the way of birding. My goal is to be able to post photos real time to Twitter and maybe Facebook.  If it works as well as I think it will, it's going to be a really fun way to report on warblers in real time when I go to The Biggest Week In North American Birding and Point Pelee in May.  Both of these are legendary warbler areas in spring and I'm so excited that I'll get a chance to experience them this year.