Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Conclusion of North Dakota Trip

Saturday, June 7th was my final day at the Potholes & Prairie Birding Festival. It was a windy, sunny day, but warm and perfect for the "Birdwatching for Beginners" tour I was signed up for. Our leaders for this trip were Bill Thompson, III, Katie Fitzmier (from Eagle Optics) and Sharon Stiteler (the Birdchick). (That's me with Sharon and Katie in the photo below--you can tell by our smiles that we had a great day of birdwatching!)

I got several life birds on this tour including Black-Crowned Night Heron, Virginia Rail, Marbled Godwit, and Chestnut-Collared Longspur. We missed seeing Whooping Cranes by one day (they had been spotted out on the prairie the day before.)

Marbled Godwit

Chestnut-Collared Longspur

When our bus arrived back at the festival headquarters (The Chieftain Conference Center), a bunch of us got to do the "Lifebird Wiggle" out in front of the giant Chieftain statue. I kind of got hidden in the back row, but the arrow should help you locate my head and left arm.
Before the evening's banquet, I prevailed upon Julie for a photo. She and Bill worked non-stop during this entire festival, which definitely helped make it such a wonderful experience for me and the other birders. Having "met" them through blogging, it was really neat to meet them in person and also their kids, Phoebe and Liam. Me, Julie Z, and Susie O'Quinn (who knew both of us through our blogs!)
(Photo taken by Phoebe L. Thompson)

Oh yeah, and one more thing, remember the shawl I knitted and donated for the silent auction at this festival? The last I saw it was draped around the shoulders of young Miss Phoebe Thompson as her dad Bill got the winning bid. It was nice for me to know this shawl was going to a good home!

I departed for home early Sunday morning and got to enjoy some fabulous sunrise views of birds and wildlife on the North Dakota prairie. For reasons unknown to me, the railroad tracks were very attractive to many of these early morning birds.

Railroad Rooster

Railroad Turkey

There were lots of deer out and about early this morning also.

And I was lucky enough to catch one more view of a lovely white-tail doe with her tiny little fawn trying to follow its mom through the tall grass.

I also got one more life bird for this trip: Short-Eared Owl hunting the roadside ditch. I was able to stop the car and get out for a closer look, but the owl preferred not to be photographed!

A few hundred miles later, I pulled into my driveway shortly before 4 PM, exhausted, but thankful for the amazing sights, sounds, and birding fellowship I had experienced for the last 4 days on the North Dakota prairie.

Oh yeah, and did I also mention that I got 30 life birds on this trip? As I keep saying over and over, it was an amazing trip.....


Anonymous said...

I just turned on the computer and found you had just finished posting. I can't imagine all the things you saw and heard on this wonderful trip to ND. I've been rereading all the ND posts and listening to the videos and looking over the pictures. Not only did you have life birds but you had a lifetime trip, with birds you may never see again. Thanks for taking all of us along, it's a "lifer" for me.

Mary said...

Oh my, Ruthie. I have two posts to read. I'm amazed and so delighted to see the photos and lifers! I'll need to spend time tomorrow to read them all... It's past my frumpy old bedtime already :o)

How tall are you? You tower over Julie and Birdchick. I'd look like a munchkin next to you.



Anonymous said...

Oh I forgot to mention that little fawn, it looks like a newborn. It seems to be struggling to get up, precious. When grass is that long it's hard to navigate.

cindy said...

What a great adventure! How many miles is it to Carrington? We've never been to North Dakota. It's on our list. Totally different world up there. A place to unwind and breath. I'm sure you probably wished you could spend more time exploring. Great place for a cycle trip. Hope you are above the water table there. Our sump pump is running. The weather guy said anywhere from 2-4 more inches tomorrow. I sure feel for the people of Houston county. If you have anymore to tell about your trip...please do.

Jayne said...

One day we'll all have to converge somewhere and meet up! So nice to see you with Birdchick and Julie. So happy to hear Ms Phoebe herself got that beautiful scarf! 30 life birds? I'd say that was a great 4 days indeed!!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Your photos are superb Ruthie. I can tell what a good time you had by looking at the pictures.

Wow 30 lifers. That alone would make any trip fantastic. Congrats.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mom,
It was amazing how much birding can be crammed into 4 days. I had such a good time and great memories to last forever. I'm glad I could share the stories with you.
P.S. I think it was close to a newborn fawn too--the poor baby had really slow going in that tall grass.

Hi Mary,
The big thing here in North Dakota is that "east meets west" as far as birds go. Not only did I get to see shorebirds and waterfowl, but Western birds too.
I'm about 5'8". Katie and I had to tease Sharon about being a squirt!

Hi Cindy,
I logged 1126 miles for the entire 5-day trip. Fortunately the Toyota Corolla rental car I drove got excellent gas mileage, plus it had a GPS unit.
I would encourage you & Vern to plan a ND birding trip ASAP! Check out the Birding Drives Dakota website (http://www.birdingdrives.com/) for more information and routes.
P.S. Not much flooding that I've heard about in Olmsted County, but a couple people I work with in Mower and Fillmore counties had 10" over the weekend. UGH!

Hi Jayne,
It's so neat to meet blogging friends in person. A convergance would be great! Maybe West Virginia next spring???

Thanks Lisa, I glad you got to "come along" on my trip too.
I was happy with most of the pics I took during the trip, but I definitely need to work on my camera skills and I'm thinking very seriously about getting a new, longer lens for optimizing the 'distant' shots.

Julie said...

Okay, I want to go next year! What are "life birds". Where might I find a list?
Loved all the posts, wish I could have been there.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Julie,
Next year for sure! Plus there are discounts when multiple people sign up as part of a group.
The life bird list is created by YOU! Take every bird you have seen (alive & in the wild) and put it on a list, then whenever you see a new bird (3-toed woodpecker, for example) you add it to your life list. Some people actually carry the list with them in a notebook, or log it in a file on their computer (mine is just in my brain). You might be surprised by how many life birds you already have on your list.

Debbie said...

Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful trip, Ruthie! What a great experience. Do you go on birding trips often? I used to do more birdwatching, but somehow my five kiddos seem to keep me pretty busy. A trip like you just went on would sooo fun.

Love all the pictures. The Chestnut collared Larkspur is grorgeous and the little fawn is so cute.

Shellmo said...

loved hearing about your trip and seeing the photos - I have read birdchick's blog so nice to see her photo too! (P.S. Is your railroad rooster a pheasant? He has the beautiful markings of one - if not - neat rooster!)

jan m said...

What a great trip for you, and all those new birds to add to your life list!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Debbie,
This is only the second "away from home" birding trip I've ever gone on.
Are your 5 kiddos interested in birds at all? Maybe you can try taking them along on some nature hikes? My mom used to take us 4 kids out when we were younger--didn't get much out of it at the time, but now that I'm grown and she's no longer able to go, I can appreciate what she taught and showed us at a young age & I can still share my trips with her through my blog.

Thanks Shelly, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Have you been on any birding trips with Sharon? She's a lot of fun, but also incredibly knowledgeable about birds!
Yes, it is a pheasant (I'm just used to calling them roosters).

Thanks Jan. I sure had a great time and would love to go west again someday for more birding adventures (I could combine birding with a visit to my brother in California!)

Julie Zickefoose said...

FiFi loves her shawl, Ruthie--it is so gorgeous. I am definitely going to borrow it from time to time. It was very kind of you to donate that. You will be interested to know that she has already claimed my alpaca hat. I suppose I will share it, if she'll share her shawl.

Funny--the only picture of yours that wouldn't load for me is the one of us together! Could you email it to me?

Your pix are fantastic. I'm going to send a link to your and Laura's blogs to Ann Haffert-she'll be so thrilled to see the good press y'all are pumping out!

xo jz

LauraHinNJ said...

Hi Ruthie! Gosh - I finally made it here to say hi. It was great meeting you in ND and having a couple hours to bird together!

I'm thrilled to read that you got 30 new birds - wow! I missed the longspur and a couple of the others you got, but tallied 12 or 13 new ones.

I think it'll take me a week or two to post all the pictures from the trip - I loved seeing all the places I missed here on your blog. Thanks and I hope we can do it again someday.

Mary C said...

Way to go, Ruthie! 30 lifers? Wow! I'm so glad you shared your trip with us. I'll have to keep this festival in mind for next year.

RuthieJ said...

Thanks for your kind words, Julie. I've got so much knitted stuff in my closets, that now much of what I knit is donated or given as gifts....paying it forward in fiber!
The pic is in an e-mail sent to you a few minutes ago. I also sent a note to the Birding Drives Dakota ladies with a thank you and a link to my festival posts too.

Hi Laura,
I'm glad you made it back home safely. North Dakota was beautiful wasn't it? It was great to meet you also and have the chance to explore the wonders of prairie birds and blossoms with Julie.

Thanks Mary! It would be fun if you could make it to this festival next year....I would really enjoy birding with you (unless I make it out to California sometime in the next 12 months or so!)

Beth said...

I have really enjoyed going on this trip with you. What an experience--and good news that the beautiful shawl is well loved.

Meggie said...

So glad you had a great time, Ruthie. Your excitement permeates your post. That life list sure is growing!

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading all the ND blogs for the 4th time, they are so interesting and scenery is perfect, even listened and watched the videos, it was just like being there. I can imagine being there thru your pics. THANK YOU!

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

Now I'm really sorry I couldn't be there. I hope next year--or maybe West Virginia?

I'm pleased you had a great time and posted such good photos.

Robin at Bumblebee

Susan Gets Native said...

How did you get swallowed up back of the crowd? You was robbed.

Sharon is a tiny little thing, isn't she? But a lot of personality packed in that dinky frame.

As I said on Laura's post, I have so many bird trips to save for.
North Dakota, Cape May, some thing that Mary wants to go to in West Virginia. DANG.

me ann my camera said...

It sounds like a great trip and a wonderful and so successful birding experience. I love the photos of the White-tailed deer you took on your way back home.

nature tales and camera trails

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Beth. I'm glad you enjoyed the trip. It's neat to make something and know the recipient really appreciates/enjoys it.

Hi Meggie,
I suppose some day I should actually document my life list--as my memory has become a little faulty at times!

Hi Mom,
I'm glad you enjoyed the trip so many times!

Thanks Robin, I'm sorry you couldn't make it too. As I was experiencing all these sights, I was thinking about all of my blogging friends who couldn't make it and wishing you were there.

Hi Susan,
I have already started my savings plan for next year! I think everyone needs to experience North Dakota birding at least once in their life. And West Virginia? Oh yeah, Mary's got me on board for that too--especially since I found out Chet Baker is going to be there (and he's bringing the Thompson/Zickefoose family along too!)

Thanks MAMC, my pictures aren't as great as yours, but I enjoy practicing.

Mel said...

Envy!! ;)

Debbie said...

Ruthie...yes, the kids do enjoy watching the birds and we have a lot of feeders and houses around the yard.

We do like to hike and I always bring the binocs, although five kids from 5-15 aren't very quiet! We like to go . Have you ever tried it? It is a great way to get the whole gang out on the trail.

I know the kids grow so quickly and then I'll have time to do more real birding. For now, I catch some time when we go camping or hiking and call it good.

Debbie said...

Well, that didn't work very well...oh well, what I was trying to say is geocaching. It is a lot of fun.

Larry said...

30 lifebirds! That's outstanding! I would love to see the Longspur, Great photos-sounds like a great time.