Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Birding the Potholes

Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The sparrow formerly known as Nelson's sharp-tailed sparrow is now just Nelson's sparrow.

In about a month, on the wide open prairie of central North Dakota, one of the most charming and wonderful birding festivals will be in full swing. Carrington, North Dakota will be invaded by bands of excited birders for the annual Potholes & Prairie Birding Festival, one of my favorite events every year.

If one or more of the bird species listed below sounds appealing to you (or remains unchecked on your life list) you should consider coming to Carrington for the 2010 festival, which runs from June 9 to 13. Among the target/highlight species: Chestnut-collared longspur, Sprague's pipit, Nelson's (sharp-tailed) sparrow, LeConte's sparrow, Baird's sparrow, gray partridge, sharp-tailed grouse, ferruginous hawk, white-rumped sandpiper, plus large numbers of waterfowl and shorebirds.

A prairie pothole, left behind after the last glaciers receded.

There are reasons other than the birds to come to this festival:
  • The P&PBF is a relatively small event, so field trip groups are small too, with expert local leaders.
  • It's hard to get lost in a place where all the roads run at right angles to one another.
  • You can stop to look at birds along most of these roads and rarely have to worry about oncoming traffic.
  • Spending time on the wide-open prairie does one's soul good.
  • So does the delicious soup and pie at the local cafes where we often eat lunch.
I'll be in North Dakota again this year for the Potholes & Prairie Birding Festival. Good spots are still available for this wonderful event and I hope you'll consider joining us.


On May 11, 2010 at 10:14 AM Anonymous said...

I love birding in ND. The bird activity can be non-stop. While you are waiting for the secretive sparrows hiding in the grass you can be watching the waterfowl (many w/young), wrens, black terns, grebes, hawks and so on. There is always something to see and you can pull over just about anywhere. I spent an afternoon at Lostwood N.W.R. and had over 26,000acres all to myself. Just me, the wind, the prairie flowers and the birds.

As far as getting lost goes, I'd say it can still happen because some of the roads haven't even been named yet. But getting lost can be an adventure in itself.


On May 11, 2010 at 5:43 PM Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I'll be there! Can't wait-

On May 11, 2010 at 11:18 PM Anonymous said...

Yeah, Lynne! TIme for a flock reunion?

On May 12, 2010 at 11:29 PM Marianne, aka Ranger Anna said...

The potholes region is my second favorite place in North Dakota--the Badlands being the first. Which means, I love all of North Dakota! We did the drive across today, and my son had fun trying to spot birds along the way.

On May 13, 2010 at 10:05 PM cindyzlogic said...

We always called them "buffalo wallows"...prairie potholes...very clever! Wishing you great birding in ND!

On May 16, 2010 at 8:37 PM Kathi said...

All those birds you mention would be Lifers for me - and I will expect you to find me at least one of each of them when I see you in ND next month. (I'll be the one suffering from BTPDS - Boston Terrier Puppy Deficiency Syndrome.)