Monday, June 21, 2010

A Beautiful Day in the Dakotas

We slept in this morning meaning that we did not get up until 7 AM. I went off to get the oil changed on the truck (another 5,000 miles racked up since leaving NC on June 6th). We then left about 9 to drive up to the Audubon NWR about an hour north of Bismarck. I had never been to this refuge, and was hoping to see some breeding plumage eared grebes on their floating nests. Not only did we not see them on their nests, we did not see any! But we did see lots of other birds including the yellow-headed blackbird (top photo above) and tree swallow (bottom photo).

We then pointed the truck south toward the other Dakota. The day was mostly sunny, breezy, low humidity and in the high 70's. We wound our way thru some beautiful parts of SW North Dakota, and NW South Dakota. It was a treat to see so many prairie birds as we drove down the highway. We regularly passed lark buntings, redwing and yellow-headed blackbirds, cowbirds, upland sandpipers, chestnut-collared longspurs, western meadowlarks, and eastern and western kingbirds. We also saw a couple of dickcissels, a red-headed woodpecker, a long-billed curlew, and when we crossed the Cheyenne River, there must have been well over a 1000 cliff swallows swooping around the bridge.

While we saw no new year birds, we did add 7 more new birds for the week. It was just a very nice day of travel with birds all along the way. We are now in Wall SD, home of the famous (since 1931) Wall Drug. We went in for some "homemade" ice cream (a sundae with strawberry ice cream and hot fudge shared). This was to make up for the very mediocre pizza we half finished at the Badlands Bar across the street. At least the pitcher of Fat Tire beer was satisfying.

We will be driving thru Badlands NP, and then over to the Black Hills to visit Mt. Rushmore tomorrow before heading on down to Colorado. I will be trying again tomorrow nite for a boreal owl. Stay tuned!

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