Saturday, June 11, 2022

06/11/2022 50! A milestone in my USA travel.

 At long last, I have now been in all 50 states of these United States of America. It took over 30 years to get this last one - North Dakota - and well worth the wait. I have been very fortunate and greatly appreciate the opportunities to travel, whether for work or recreation. 

I had gone on a bird watching tour and it was a great experience. It was a small group with some very expert birders, so there was a lot for me to learn and absorb from this group. The trip started in Minneapolis, Minnesota and extended into western Wisconsin, the western shore of Lake Superior and Duluth and then a cross through upper Minnesota into North Dakota. If you cross the state line 4 times, does that mean I have been to North Dakota four times?!

The trip did start on a hectic note with several flights cancelled and my flight delayed by over an hour. That cut it so very close to make the connection, which was boarding while we were landing in our connecting flight. A good test of nerves. But I made it and more impressive, so did my luggage.

Did you know the mighty Mississippi River has its origins in Lake Itasca, a small glacial lake approximately 1.8 square miles in area? The lake is notable for being the headwaters of the Mississippi River, and is located in southeastern Clearwater County, in the Headwaters area of north central Minnesota. We drove past it, but our tour guide was not too interested in seeing the lake itself. We saw the remarkable change in the wide fast-moving river to a very small stream as we drove north.

It was good to get out of the office and work and stretch my legs on a few hikes. Days start early - if you want to see the little warblers you must be ready to roll by 5 AM. So, this was a vacation without much sleep. But then that is what the plane ride home is all about - right?

Here are a few bird pictures. I hope you enjoy them.

Nelson's warbler.

American bittern. You have to look closely to see this camouflaged bird.

Ruddy duck. Not the clearest picture as it was taken through a window with the van motor running. But he is a handsome duck so I am including him in this blog.

Nesting Western Grebes. They were nesting on one of many ponds in North Dakota. 

Turtles and eggs. Just checking to see if you are paying attention! No birds in this picture!

Can you find the piping plover eggs in the middle of this road?

Female crackle with insect in bill. A very common bird but this was one of the few days we had blue skies. Most of the trip was done in the rain or with heavy winds or substantial cloud cover. I could not resist the opportunity for a bird in clear view with blues skies!

Gray partridge hiding in the grasses.

A handsome grey owl. Look at the claws under her feathers.

We were fortunate to see a pair sitting on one tree branch. This picture gives a good view of the back of one of the owls.

The owl on the far end of the branch flew to another tree and was partially obscured.  I do like this picture of his eye visible as he is peering at us. He is telling us he can still see us even if he is rather hidden in the trees.

Here she is in all her glory. A gorgeous grey owl, very accommodating to the viewing eyes of us birders.

Philadelphia warbler.

Baird's sparrow.

Pied billed grebe.

He, too, is a handsome waterfowl.

Closer views of the partridge. Also a handsome bird.

It was a great trip and I added many birds to my life list. My list is really incomplete as I lost the original one with over 300 birds on it. But this is a chance for me to add some previously viewed birds. 

One day I would like to take a photographic birding trip so I can learn some techniques for photographing birds. These photographs are mostly hit or miss as we walk or take them through the van windows, and I feel lucky to have a couple of nice ones. I hope you enjoy them!

And of course, the boys missed me. Fionnegan is recovering well from Lyme disease and Gunnarr will have his operation for bladder stones in just over a week. Shorty is watching over everyone!

The gardens are beautiful and the peonies were just blooming when I came back home.

One pink rose that just started growing in the yard last year. It will bloom once.

Pink Mountain Laurel.

White Mountain Laurel.

The irises were gorgeous. And they proved to be the protective home of a momma rabbit and her two bunnies. O what fun the boys are having when they pick up their scents in the garden. I am cheering for the bunnies to stay just a few hops ahead of the dogs. So I make a lot of noise to warn the bunnies to run before the dogs are let out. They seem to know to run through the fence, yet they keep coming back to sleep in one garden in particular. Dumb bunnies!

Mock orange blossoms are sweet smelling.

I do hope you all are well and enjoy these photographs. Will try to post more often as I have time. Shorty needs to write his blog and he has a few stories to tell. But now they want to go to sleep upstairs.

To be continued..............