Black Terns are very capable of capturing and consuming the hearts and minds of birders. They can be seen migrating over the open ocean, far from land, or as far from the ocean as you can possibly get (such as in North Dakota). These birds can do it all! And look really good the whole time. Photographed near Stanley, ND.
The BB&B interns were getting their daily flogging today (I typically use leather binocular straps; very effective) when one of them weakly suggested that we do a post on North Dakota. As long-time readers may remember, I spent the summer there in 2010, doing Piping Plover monitoring for Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge. It was a pretty lonely summer, but I really enjoyed the job and the birding was great!
So to mix things up, here's some old photos from the vault that have not made it onto the blog yet. I didn't miss any of the area specialties I looked for there, but would love the chance to connect with some of those birds again. Shorebirds, prairie goodness, and a heavy flow of spring warblers made for great birding. I lifered over and over again...Sharp-tailed Grouse, White-rumped Sandpiper, Hudsonian Godwit, Connecticut Warbler, Baird's Sparrow...it was glorious. Definitely an underrated state for birding.
As Birder Number 7, I am happy to tell you that as your GBRS rank rises over the years, the tendency to confuse Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs for one another will fade away like a bad dream. In fact, you will have the startling realization that Lesser Yellowlegs look a lot more like Solitary Sandpipers, and wonder how often those two are getting mixed up. This Lesser Yellowlegs was at Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge.
There's nothing like getting life birds while on the clock! Baird's Sparrow, probably the most sought-after species in the state, was a great addition to my lifers-at-work list. Baird's are very local in the northwest part of the state where I worked, but not particularly difficult to see if you know where to look. Redmond Lakes, ND.
This Chipping Sparrow nested next to my trailer on the refuge. I always thought it was funny how sparrows are mostly vegetarian for much of the year, then turn into voracious insectivores for a few weeks while they are raising young. Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge.
I did not expect repeated opportunities to inflict serious damage on Cedar Waxwings while in North Dakota, but as you can see the damage was done...over and over again. There were a lot of berry-bearing shrubs next to my trailer, and the waxwings could not resist.
Yet again, I am reminded of Charley Harper somehow. Life imitates art.
The plump and wonderful Cedar Waxwing.
Eastern and Western Kingbirds alike breed in western North Dakota...it's nice to have both around all the time, but it's also nice to have 6 kingbird species on my California list. I reckon this dusky-throated creature is a hatch year bird. Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge.
Something about this scene speaks to me.
Franklin's Gulls are locally common in the northwest part of the state. This young bird doesn't even look like it's bill is done growing yet. Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge.
An even younger bird, photographed in early August. It's not every day you see a brown-hooded Franklin's Gull. If you are looking for vagrant Franklin's on the east coast or the west coast, don't be on the lookout for anything that looks like this. Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge.
American White Pelican is a bird that never gets old, no matter where you are. I've lost track of the number of times I've had to stop what I'm doing and watch in awe as a flock of these massive birds wheeled overhead. Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge.
A recently-fledged Swainson's Hawk assumes a rather strange pooping posture. Maybe this bird has not yet learned how to fire off its feces for the maximum distance. Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge.
Richardson's Ground-Squirrel is the most visible rodent in the area. Their cuteness can not, and will not, be denied...even the Red-tailed and Ferruginous Hawks who want nothing more than to consume their flesh cry a little every time they kill one. Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge.