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Posts Tagged ‘Yellow-headed Blackbird’

I left Minot yesterday morning and headed to Lostwood NWR as planned.  I loved the quiet and solitude of the gently rolling grasslands.  I did not see anyone on the entire 8-mile wildlife drive.  The only sounds were birds and the gentle breeze.  I didn’t see anything unusual there, but I am enjoying the common western birds.  Meadowlarks are everywhere and they seem to sing non-stop.

Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

After Lostwood, my day did not go as planned because I could not resist more birding.  I soon saw a little lake on the side of the road with 150 Franklin’s Gulls.  How could I not stop for these beauties?  Many had the beautiful pink blush of fresh breeding plumage and all were gorgeous.

Franklin's Gull

Franklin’s Gull

This little lake also contained about 100 Ring-billed Gulls, ducks, grebes, and phalaropes.  Yellow-headed Blackbirds were busy singing and nest building on the side of the lake closest to where I stood.  And, none of the birds seemed to mind my presence at all.  The weather was absolutely perfect, sunny and just the right temperature.  It was one of those magic moments and I could have stayed there forever.

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Yellow-headed Blackbird

So, now I was behind schedule and I really needed to drive to Glasgow, Montana. But, no.  I passed the entrance to Medicine Lake NWR and I just could not drive by without doing another 9-mile wildlife drive.  Again, I did not see anything unusual, but it was enjoyable.  This time I saw one other vehicle on the drive.  It was fun to see a bird in breeding plumage that I usually see only in winter, Forster’s Tern, right by the side of the road.

Forster's Tern

Forster’s Tern

It was turning out to be a long day, but I was determined to check out Bentonite Road outside of Glasgow when I arrived.  This would be my best opportunity for Mountain Plover and I wanted two chances to drive the road.  It was 7:15 PM when I started down the rough gravel road.  And, I would have to drive 17 miles on this road to get to the first place that the plovers are usually seen.  It was difficult to even be sure that I was on the right road, but I managed to do it.  And, just at mile 17, a lovely, graceful Mountain Plover flew in close to the side of the road.  I had a great look and then he was gone.  I drove another mile and then turned around, hoping to be back at the hotel by dark.

I was thrilled to have seen the plover on my first attempt, but my luck for the day was not over yet.  While hurrying to get back, I flushed a female Greater Sage-Grouse from the side of the road.  She flew just a little way and then froze, so I got photos.

Greater Sage-Grouse

Greater Sage-Grouse

Greater Sage-Grouse

Greater Sage-Grouse

This was another bird on my most wanted list and I could not believe my luck in getting it right away.  Just as I was almost back to town, I saw a pair of Ring-necked Pheasants right on the road.  What a day!  I fell into bed very tired and very happy.

This morning, I drove Bentonite Road again and saw two plovers today.  This time, I got photos.

Mountain Plover

Mountain Plover

Wilson's Phalarope

Wilson’s Phalarope

Wilson’s Phalaropes are very common out here I enjoyed close of views of several on my way back to the hotel.  Like all phalaropes, the females are the pretty ones.

I checked out of my Glasgow hotel at 11:00 AM this morning and drove north to Canada.  After crossing the border, I drove through the East Block of Grasslands National Park over to the west side, where I am staying.  My targets here may prove more challenging – Sprague’s Pipit and Baird’s Sparrow.  The birds are plentiful here, but not easy to find.  Also, McCown’s Longspur was not as easy as I’d hoped, so I need to find it here also.  But, I will be here for four nights and I am sure that I will enjoy my time, whether I get my target birds or not.  What will I see here?

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