Sunday 27 December 2015 32 °F
Today was the first day on my trip to Wisconsin and Minnesota with my birding aunt Mary and uncle Mory. After having lunch with my cousins Dave and Katie, my aunt, uncle, and I visited a beautiful preserve called Buena Vista Grasslands in hopes of finding my lifer Greater Prairie-Chicken, a rare species of grouse only found in native grassland habitats - and Buena Vista is the only place to find them in Wisconsin. It was a beautiful day with mostly clear skies and temps on the chilly side, ranging from 25 to 32 degrees F.
We spent hours creeping down the gravel roads that criss-cross the grassland landscape and scanning for birds. At one point, I spotted a flock of about 25 grouse-like birds flying in the distance, but it was too quick and distant of a look to make a clinching identification. Another frustrating moment was when we flushed a small bird with white wings from the side of the road that very well could have been my life bird Snow Bunting; however, it too flew away too quickly for an identification.
AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS were, relatively speaking, one of the most common birds of the day:
We had two AMERICAN KESTRELS including this one:
My Aunt Mary had the best spot of the day with a flock of at least 15 WILD TURKEY seen in a distant field. Here is a bad photo of part of the flock:
Alas, we never found the prairie chickens (bird wise, it was very quiet overall today), but we had a good time, a lot of laughs, and at least a few birds were seen. Here is the beautiful sunset we witnessed shortly before departing the preserve:
Tomorrow my uncle Mory, his friend Bruce, and I will drive up to the Duluth area in preparation for our visit to the world-famous Sax-Zim Bog, the winter finch and owl capital of the world.
Bird-of-the-day goes to the distant flock of WILD TURKEY; not much to choose from on some days and today was one of those days. The short species list is attached below.
World Life List: 886 Species (no life birds today)
12 species (+2 other taxa)
Wild Turkey 15 Conservative count
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 50 Conservative count
Mourning Dove 6
woodpecker sp. 1
American Kestrel 2
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 15 Conservative count
Black-capped Chickadee 10
American Tree Sparrow 20
Dark-eyed Junco 1
Eastern Meadowlark 1
House Sparrow 10
passerine sp. 1