Friday, September 14, 2007

Bird watching

I went out to the Bay Area for a memorial gathering for the cousin who died in March. I may write about that later. My brother came back to the Twin Cities with me. Wednesday Patrick and I and my brother drove down along the Mississippi. As we crossed the river at Red Wing, we saw a flock of large white birds on the water. Patrick saw one clearly; it was a pelican. We got down to Lake Pepin and stopped at an overlook. The lake was bright blue under a bright blue sky and dotted with white pelicans.

Yesterday we drove to Crex Meadows, a wildlife preserve in western Wisconsin. It's a mixture of marsh, prairie and scrub forest, which is being restored to its original (pre-European) condition.

The sky was overcast, and we ran into some rain, but it had stopped by the time we reached Crew Meadows. The clouds broke apart, though the light remained silvery, which meant it wasn't entirely easy to identify birds.

As we entered the preserve, we saw a large dark bird fly down into the bushes by the road. We stopped. It was an immature bald eagle, which flew up and perched in a nearby tree, where it stayed while we got a very good look at it.

We continued along the road and saw trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes, yellow shafted flickers, vesper sparrows, marsh hawks and red tail hawks, as well as many ducks and little, brown birds which we could not identify. The little, brown birds moved too quickly; and we couldn't make out the markings on the ducks, due to the light.

All in all, a satisfying couple of days.

I hope Patrick and I make it back to Crex Meadows later in the fall. At the height of migration, there are thousands of sand hill cranes and other birds present. I would not mind seeing 5,000 sand hill cranes, though a dozen or so is also nice.


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