Thursday, June 8, 2006

North Dakota Day 2

Thursday, June 8, 2006
Chilly and drizzly today--could not have picked a worse day to burden with a bunch of hopes for digiscoping. But, hey, being out on the open prairie, even in the cold and wet, beats stubbing your toe three times in a row. Or waking up dead on a stranger's car windshield--like this leopard frog I found on my car this morning.
The weather was not going to prevent my adventure today, though the lack of bright sunshine would render most of my digiscoped shots too soft to salvage...

First I headed north out of Jamestown, toward the charming prairie village of Pingree, home of the world famous Pingree Cafe (you MUST have the knefla soup). I planned to save my cafe stop for lunch--more on that later.

En route to Pingree, near the throbbing metropolis of Buchanan, I stopped, as I do every June, to take a picture of the giant cow that is slowing rotting away. I believe it was once meant to be a stage for live music. Not sure why THAT idea didn't take off....

Everywhere you look here in the prairie pothole region life is exploding and active. Birds are singing, grasses blowing in the breeze, insects humming. But there are also signs of former lives in the many abandoned homesteads. Tucked into an enveloping shelterbelt of trees, these skeleton buildings are all that remain of someone's hopes and dreams and hard work and tears.
Yes, I did see a few birds today. Even found a pair of chestnut-collared longspurs that REFUSED to be photographed. But I still managed a few shots--again pardon the distance and softness. Am hoping for some better luck on Saturday when the weather is supposed to keep on the sunny side.

Several pairs of western grebes were courting on the lakes in Chase Lake NWR.

I must have seen 2,000 American white pelicans during the day, in flocks of 15-25.Here's a distant shot of one part of the world's largest white pelican nesting colony, at Chase Lake NWR. That white line on the island is all pelicans.

Marbled godwits are such great-looking birds. I especially love their cinnamon wing linings (not shown)

I looked at so many Savannah sparrows today that I developed yellow lore spots myself. Not a single one of the 'vannahs morphed into a Baird's sparrow, not even after I ate those mushrooms I found on a cowpie.

Tomorrow we're up and outta here at 5 am headed on a big bus to Chase Lake again hoping for better weather (not likely according to the forecast) and good birding (guaranteed, no matter what).


On June 9, 2006 at 7:02 AM Julie Zickefoose said...


Your shelterbelt lady made me cry, but then what doesn't?
I hit the books and think that's a Great Plains toad on your windshield. The greater mystery--how did it get there? Is Jeff Bouton around?

Much love,


On June 9, 2006 at 9:03 AM teageeare said...

Your Western Grebe picture brought back a recent memory. We saw a pair doing their mating dance across the water at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah a couple of weeks ago.

On January 24, 2008 at 3:14 AM meldrou said...

I'm not sure about the species but it's definitely a toad on that windshield.
Frogs have dorsal lines on the back, and this guy looks all chunky and full of pimples, whereas frogs don't.

On June 24, 2009 at 8:07 AM Artlife said...

This is a Western Toad, Bufo boreas.
To the other commenter- not all frogs have dorsolateral ridges.

On September 7, 2009 at 9:53 PM Matt "Furryscaly" Reinbold said...

Your previous commenters are half right. This is not a leopard frog, it is a toad. However, we do not have western toads in North Dakota. This is a great plains toad, Bufo cognatus.

It's a shame he died. I have been searching for this species for some time, but it is not as common as it once was.