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.
I 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.
Sometimes 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.
I can’t tell you how thrilled I am. Last night our daughter sent us the following text about two of our granddaughters, currently aged 4 and 6:
G: Look W–! A chickadee! (Gasp!) Two!
W: Yeah! Aww, they flew in the tree. (Runs to another window.)
W: I found them!
G: A chickadee! Two chickadees!
and so on…
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…
Birding travel. Recent sightings. Ornithological news. Most birding blogs cover these and similar topics. That’s fine—it’s always enjoyable to hear about someone else’s birding adventures. But Birder’s Rules, written by Nicholas Lund, takes a totally different approach.
For years, whenever I’ve gone to Pueblo to go birding, I’ve headed to Lake Pueblo state park. How can any place else compete with a large reservoir surrounded by arid open space, watered picnic areas, and, along the Arkansas River below the dam, a birdy stretch of riparian trees and bushes. Pueblo Reservoir gets its share of rarities as well—out-of-state gulls in particular. I’ve picked up a number of lifers there.
This time, however, we went to Pueblo and didn’t go to the state park! I’d heard that there are other places in Pueblo where you can find birds. Well, maybe.