Saturday, May 22, 2010

North Dakota Migration

Greetings from Bismarck, ND

With a few days off from doing bird surveys, I decided to stay in the eastern part of the state and see if I could catch any eastern warblers in Fargo, ND. After hearing reports of some days of almost 20 warblers I was expecting a great day. I decided to start at a location along the Red River called Forest River. This park used to be a neighborhood but the amount of flooding from the river ended the hopes of a neighborhood in this location. Now the entire area is natural with a mixture of ornamental plantings from the nonexistent neighborhood. I wasn't sure exactly where it was but I quickly found the spot. After a short period I came across a small flock that contained Magnolia and Bay-breasted Warblers. While searching this small flock I ran into a local Fargo birder and we continued on without many highlights other than a great look at a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.

Yellow-headed Blackbird-one of the common sightings in the marshes of North Dakota.

After a little while we ran into two more birders from Fargo. I had come to this spot because of their posts on the ND listserv so it was nice to put faces with the names. After talking about some local birding spots, I learned that the the sewage lagoons, a place I was planning on visiting, is not accessible without a key. And even if you happen to have a key you don't really have permission to be on the property. Luckily, Keith, one of the other birders, had spare keys that he offered so I would be able to bird the property. However it didn't come to that because, Bob, the other birder from Fargo, decided to check out the lagoons.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper-one of the awesome shorebirds that can be found migrating through North Dakota.

When we arrived at the lagoons it was a bit dissapointing finding the mudflats mostly devoid of birds. On the drive in we had 3 Sanderlings and after a little searching of the mudflats of one cell and the mud edges of another cell we were able to find a couple highlights. These included Red-necked Phalarope and Hudsonian Godwit. After getting many tips on birding locations to visit farther in the central part of the state, I started heading west.

Today was very dissapointing due to 40 mph wind gusts which created very difficult birding conditions especially when looking for grassland sparrows and Sprague's Pipits. I changed my plans and just searched for shorebirds and waterfowl instead. With some effort I was able to find 2 Buff-breasted Sandpipers that allowed great scope views. A little while later I had a Clark's Grebe that allowed great looks for as long as I wanted to watch. The grebe was so uninterested in me that it slept for almost the whole time I was there.

One of these is not the same-Can you tell what two species are in this photo?

I ended the windy day at a site that has breeding Red-necked Grebes every year. I was not dissapointed and was able to get good scope views of one bird. In the same marsh as the Red-necked Grebe I also had many other species of breeding waterfowl along with Sedge and Marsh Wrens.

Black Tern-one of my favorite birds that inhabit the marshes of North Dakota.



eileeninmd said...

Wonderful shots of all the birds. The Yellow headed Blackbird is my favorite.

Philip said...

Well 40 mph winds is a bit excessive for some birds anyway you still got some excellent shots :)