Monday, June 1, 2009

The Hope-to-See List: Part 1

Monday, June 1, 2009
The whole famdamily and I are leaving soon for the rolling prairies of North Dakota. This is an annual trip we take to be a part of The Potholes and Prairie Birding Festival, held this year in Jamestown, North Dakota. If you've never been birding in North Dakota, you are missing quite an avian spectacle: loads of rare breeding grassland birds, thousands of white pelicans, ducks on every puddle, shorebirds on every third fencepost. And more...

I have a wish list of the things I am hoping to see out there in the middle of the Great Plains. These are all things I have seen before, but like touchstones, I always want to visit them again.

Among these hoped-for sightings are the following:

A chestnut-collared longspur singing his best imitation of a western meadowlark's song.

A male bobolink showing off his pat o' butter head patch, leaning into the ever-present breeze.

An upland sandpiper keeping watch over its chosen bit of prairie. I also love hearing this species' high-lonesome whistled song.

A Le Conte's sparrow—just one of the rare sparrows of the potholes region we'll be seeking. What it lacks in musicality of song it makes up for in the subtle beauty of its plumage.

Bison in large herds. Nothing evokes the pre-settlement Great Plains more than a shaggy, dusty herd of these large mammals.

This year I think the kids will be more interested in watching these wonders with us. Phoebe has promised to start her life list, which made Liam want to, too. With all the amazing things we hope to see, how could I say no?


On June 1, 2009 at 6:53 PM RuthieJ said...

Have a great trip! I'll never forget my first birding adventure in North Dakota at last year's festival.

On June 1, 2009 at 7:18 PM Bill of the Birds said...

It's going to be cold in ND in the morning, so I think we're taking some of your work along with us to keep warm!

On June 3, 2009 at 8:05 AM nina at Nature Remains. said...

That first view I would hold in my mind for an escape destination.
I hope you are able to catch a little time "off-duty" to soak in such a lovely area.