We hope that spring is just around the corner and so is the 39th annual Salt Lake Birding Weekend. On Saturday, April 26, 2014 volunteers will guide birders around Salt Lake, Big Stone Refuge and the lakes, wetlands, and native prairies around Lac qui Parle and southern Big Stone counties. This event is free and open to all who are interested. No pre-registration is needed. Last year over 80 birders surveyed Lac qui Parle County and located 135 different species of birds. Added to the weekend total were an American Pipit on Friday and 6 new birds on Sunday, Stilt Sandpiper, Smith's Longspur, N. Rough-winged Swallow, Trumpeter Swan, Barred Owl and a Wester-Clark's hybrid (found at Salt Lake), for a total of 142. Because of the late migration last year migrating Snow and White-fronted Geese were still present and for the 1st time small flocks of Red Polls and a Snow Bunting were found.
Highlights last year included the eight American Avocets often viewed close to the road and two White-faced Ibis's. Six Black-crowned Night-Herons were found at Bolson Slough WPA and 1/2 mile west four Short-eared Owls were seen. 21 shorebird species were found including both Gotwits, Long-billed Dowitcher, Willet, A. Golden Plover, Dunlin, and Wilson's Phalarope. Other interesting birds include a Ferruginous Hawk soaring over Marietta found by Steve Weston, four Swainson's Hawks, Merlins, three Loggerhead Shrikes, and a single Sandhill Crane. The most notable birds found were the Great-tailed Grackle, the Chestnut-collared Longspur and the 13 Smith's Longspurs.
On Saturday April 26 at 7 a.m., meet at the Marietta American Legion, located one block west of the intersection of County Road 7 and State Highway 40, 11 miles west of Madison. Coffee, sweet rolls, juice and milk will be available for purchase. Guided car caravans will leave between 7 and 8 am. At noon, stop back at the Legion for a sloppy joes and cake (available at a modest cost) and to compare notes. A Saturday chicken dinner, for $10, will be served at 7:30 pm at the Sons of Norway Hall on Highway 75 in Madison. Reservations are necessary for dinner; please contact Julie Claflin by email at JulieClaflin@gmail.com . After dinner there will be a short program and then the species count for the day will be recorded. Sunday birding is on your own but you may stop by Prairie Marsh Farm for advice and directions to local sites.
Local lodging is available at Louís Lodge in Madison 320-598-7518, the Vali Vu Motel in Ortonville 320-839-2558, Prairie Waters Inn in Appleton 320-289-2500, and the Country Inn by Carlson in Montevideo 320-269-8000. Free camping is available at Prairie Marsh Farm, 1770 151st Ave, Marietta, located 7 miles west of US 75 and 1.5 miles south of 212. Contact Ken Larson for more information or to reserve a camping site - home 952-595-9265, cell 612-210-8486 email@example.com Information and map at http://moumn.org/saltlake/.