Is that a Northwestern Crow?

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I spent Thanksgiving week in the Pacific Northwest, visiting family (granddaughters!) and friends. Somehow, in the midst of tickles and snuggles, craft projects, and a delicious turkey dinner, I managed to squeeze in an hour of birding—and it wasn’t even raining.

Since we were in Federal Way for lunch that day, we headed for the tiny Dumas Bay Sanctuary. And I do mean tiny. If you walk north along the narrow beach, you quickly run into signs warning of private property. And if you head south instead, the park boundary markers stop you after only a few yards. At least the birds have permission to trespass, and we birders have binoculars.

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Birding Niagara Falls

2017-08-29 14.54.40(If you’ve just tuned in, this is the fourth post in a series about our 2017 trip around the Great Lakes.)

By the time we left Grand Rapids, I had spent some enjoyable mornings birding Michigan while my husband, Pete, had attended a number of successful meetings. We had also visited two of the four states I had been missing, moving me that much closer to my goal of visiting all fifty. The trip was going well. And  now it was time for Pete to check off his own bucket list dream.

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Birding Michigan, Part 2: Shiawassee NWR

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On the bank of the Shiawassee River, in central Michigan, Shiawassee NWR was touted as “a critical migration stopover site for waterfowl.” We were there on the last day of August, just over a year ago. With habitats ranging from marshes to forests to prairie, and a long list of bird species, some of which I’ve rarely (if ever) seen, I was hoping to see more than just waterfowl.

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Michigan in September (part 1)

Mallard & ducklings_Muskegon-MI_LAH_4858I was excited to finally be going to Michigan, my 48th state. While the trip wasn’t exclusively a birding trip—we also had people to see—it was new territory for me. I was sure to get at least one lifer, and hopefully many more. On the other hand, my expectations had been tempered by the less-than-spectacular birding at Magee Marsh a few days earlier. At this point, I just wanted to see birds, any birds.

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Hot Day, Cool Birding

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It was another hot day. Usually by now, the weather has moderated, but we’ve been in the middle of an unseasonable heat wave and I was completely wilted. I was yearning to go birding—my new job had kept me indoors far too much lately—but the only time available was from mid-morning through early afternoon—the hottest time of the day. As much as I wanted to get outside, I had to ask myself, why bother?

Often, I think the birds are smarter than the birders. When the heat gets oppressive, they don’t stand out in the sun with binoculars. No, they adapt. Most migrating birds fly at night, feed in the early morning hours and just before dark, and rest during the heat of the day. Birders know this, which is why most field trips start early. But sometimes, our schedule just doesn’t allow us to do what we know is optimal. We have to take what we can get and make the best of it.

Still, I thought, maybe I could emulate the birds, and manage to both enjoy nature and stay cool at the same time.

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Magee in August

MageeMarsh-OH_LAH_3754Sometimes you take a birding trip and it’s everything you ever dreamed about. Our time in Australia two years ago was like that. And sometimes, you try your hardest and things just don’t work out the way you anticipate, such as the trip we took exactly one year ago. Pete had arranged a series of work-related meetings in Michigan and Ontario, and I had never been there, so we decided to make a vacation out of it and drive around the Great Lakes. In the process, I visited my last four states, culminating in North Dakota as number 50.

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A PPB&NF Weekend

I don’t go to many birding festivals. They cost money and they attract crowds. I’m not a big fan of crowds. But I make an exception every year for the Pikes Peak Birding and Nature Festival, held right here in the Pikes Peak region of Colorado. In fact, not only do I go to the festival, I’m a volunteer.

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