Friday, April 24, 2009

Mid trip Update

Pics soon.

Nebraska has been great, despite the turn in the weather.

I updated totals from my visit to Valentine National Wildlife Refuge today.

It is a great location, and I wish I had more time to spend, and a bit less wind to contend with. Even so, I tallied 36 species and updated my lists and pictures nicely. I really am amazed by how well birding by car works. Keeping only one window open minimizes the wind impact, and on lightly traveled roads I can creep along and use the car as an effective blind.

I had a couple of surprises, a Forsters Turn and both Vespers and Baird's Swallows. I also picked up a couple of area common species that I haven't seen in Colorado, but saw frequently growing up in Minnesota. They were the Eastern Bluebird and Great Egret.

Last night driving across northern Nebraska I saw a pair of Ring-necked Pheasants on the side of the road. It felt good to finally pick up that species. Last winter driving from Minnesota to Iowa I watched every ditch going and coming to see if any would turn up, and was totally skunked. Much better to have them in the bag.

I can't express how much my impressions of Nebraska have changed by taking an alternate route across the state. I have cut between interstates several times and have always been struck by the scenery in the dunes - yes, much of Nebraska is a major dune field covered by shortgrass prairie growth. Taking the time to stop at a few key locations has been that much better.

I made stops at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, (and had the park to myself on a beautiful 80 degree day), Toadstool Geologic Park, (where I spent far less time than I would have liked due to a looming thunderstorm which chased me from Chadron to Valentine last evening) and now Valentine National Wildlife Refuge. Wow, what a great mix of geology, history, paleo-mamology and of course fauna and photo ops.

2009 Count: 95
Lifetime: 117
(more updates and species to be added from Wednesday and Thursday)

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