[mou] Salt Lake Festival

Steve Weston sweston2 at comcast.net
Tue Apr 29 01:44:11 CDT 2008

We drove out on Friday night to Goody Larson's Prairie Marsh Farm near Marietta, MN, 5 miles from the South Dakota border in Lac Qui Parle County.  We left the cities at 5pm in a light drizzle.  By the time we reached Olivia, it was snowing.  By the time we reached Granite Falls, it was starting to accumulate on the road.  From Monteveido the last 30 miles was through a blowing snow with the road crusty with ice and small drifts blowing across the road.  Still, the car was handling well.  Turning off the highway, we held our breath for the last mile and a half to the farm.  Shortly after we arrived the snow was measured by Ken Larson at eight to ten inches.  

The next morning the roads were dicy and the wind was hard and cold out of the north.  By afternoon travelled roads were almost dry and the infrequent roads were passable and the weather was beautiful.  Still on Sunday we did encounter one drift that turned us back.

The over twenty participants found at least 131 bird species compared to 132 last year.  The most interesting birds included a Great-tailed Grackle that Bill Unzen had steaked out for about a week and a Little Gull that was found by Bob Williams.  The Grackle was not relocated Sunday afternoon.  The Little Gull was seen Sunday morning, but not Sunday afternoon.  Twenty-two species of waterfowl were found including Cackling Geese, and all the Grebes, except Clarks.   Thirteen species of raptors were observed, including a Merlin (unusual out there), probably in excess of a hundred Harriers, Red-shouldered Hawks, Rough-legged, and several Swainsons Hawks, including a kettle of four. 

Fifteen species of shorebirds were found including Semi-palmated Plover, both Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, Marbled Godwit, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Bairds Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, LB Dowitcher, Snipe, Woodcock, and Wilson's Phalarope.  Snipe were quite numerous.  One concentration of 25 were found.  They were calling in many locations.  We found the first of three Marbled Godwit in the Plover Prairie standing on one leg on a rock about fourty feet from the road with his head tucked in.  After we watched him for a while, he pulled his head out, looked us over, greeted us in his dialect, and stretched his wings.  He then tucked his head in and we drove off.   

Also in Plover Prairie we found a Sharp-tailed Grouse in a tree and a few saw a couple of Prairie Chickens.   We probably saw over a thousand Ring-neck Phaesants during the day.  We found fourteen species of sparrow, including Lark, Fox, and Lincoln.   Other birds of note included Black-crowned Night-Heron, Franklin Gulls with pink blush breasts, a Shrike, four species of Swallows, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Orange-crowned Warbler,  Palm Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Hermit Thrush, and Brown Thrasher.    

On Friday, a Pine Siskin was seen.  On Sunday, additional finds included Peregrine Falcon, American Avocet (both at Salt Lake), Willet, and Marsh Wren.

Mammals seen included Richardson's Ground Squirrel, and a River Otter.

Steve Weston on Quiggley Lake in Eagan, MN
sweston2 at comcast.net
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