Friday, June 18, 2010

Can You Say Black-backed Woodpecker?

We awoke about 6 AM to a sunny but very windy day. We were on the road by 6:30, and arrived back at Atasca SP (the Atasca Lake is the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River) about 7:30 to find that the road we needed to drive down was still not open. My wife agreed to stay with our truck since there was no parking area at the closure location. I took off walking down the closed road to reach the Bohall trail which was about a mile away. I enjoyed birding along the way, mostly by ear, and was at the trailhead in 20 minutes.

I had not walked more than 400 yards down the trail when I heard a woodpecker. I looked around to find a fine male black-backed woodpecker working its way up a tree trunk. It flew to a second tree and continued to hunt for food. I wanted to watch it a bit longer, but was concerned about my wife waiting back at the truck, so in my haste, I took off back down the trail before thinking about getting a photo. On my way back I saw 2 yellow-bellied sapsuckers. I arrived back at our truck at 8:30, and we started our 2+ hour drive to Agassiz NWR.

We arrived about 11 AM and the wind was blowing very hard. We chatted with the ranger, picked up a key to unlock the gates, and headed off to see what might be around on such an inhospitable day for birding. The photos above are of a male blue-winged teal, and a group of white pelicans that we flushed coming around a turn (remember to click on the photos to enlarge them). We saw many birds, including a few sparrows, but no nelson's sparrows which had been reported at the refuge in the past week. The high winds did not help matters.

We finally departed from the refuge area about 3 PM to make the drive over to Grand Forks, ND. I am going out now to a place near here called Kelly's Slough to see what might be about. For the 1st day of week #25 we have already seen or heard 62 species, and the black-backed woodpecker raises the YTD total to 615. Stay tuned!

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