Anticipating Florida

Forster's Tern_MerrittIslandNWR-FL_LAH_4279

Pete and I have been invited to visit friends in Florida next month. Of course, we accepted the invitation! I’ve arranged time off from work, I’ve made my packing list, and our house sitter is all lined up (with instructions on keeping the feeders filled). Now I’m eagerly counting the days until we leave.

While there are plenty of logistics involved in escaping winter for a couple of weeks, I’m also trying to prepare for birding in a relatively unfamiliar location. Yes, I’ve been to Florida before—twice, in fact—but it’s not my usual birding location, and those aren’t my usual birds.

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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

ShiawasseeNWR-MI_LAH_4434

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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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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Neither snow nor rain…

Chico Basin cows 4922

Last Saturday promised to be a great day. We were heading to Chico Basin Ranch. The ranch describe itself as a:

… 87,000-acre family-run, working cattle ranch that operates on the high prairie 30 miles southeast of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Its sprawling ranges of shortgrass and sandsage prairie, spring-fed lakes, creeks, and pools are home to diverse populations of birds, pronghorn, deer, fish, prairie dogs, coyote, badgers, and much more. … In addition to our cattle business, the Chico offers education, farming, recreation, sporting, arts, and hospitality programs.

It’s one of the best birding sites in our area, well worth a trip any time. In addition, they were hosting a “Birder Brunch” on Saturday, a free breakfast for those of us who bird there. I was eagerly anticipating good food, good company, and a day of exceptional birding. However…

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