Thief River Falls to Jamestown
Our first birding of the day was near Crookston to search for Greater Prairie-Chicken. Unfortunately, the chicken did not appear. Most of the species we saw were ones we had previously seen. Only Northern Pintail was new for the trip.
We then headed west, crossing the Red River of the North at Grand Forks, and on to Kelly's Slough National Wildlife Refuge. Suddenly we were surrounded by new trip birds. Waterfowl were particularly prominent, including Ruddy Duck, Redhead, and Green-winged Teal. We also found Eared Grebe and our first American Coot of the trip.
One person in my van spotted a Gray Partridge. We radioed to the other van, which was able to return before it left. Shorebirds were also present at Kelly's Slough. I was the only one to see a White-rumped Sandpiper, but everyone got to see the American Avocets, Wilson's Phalarope, and Red-necked Phalarope. The last was a big surprise. We had initially assumed it was a Wilson's, but the plumage just didn't make sense to me. Fortunately, we had photos and a closer look revealed its true identity.
Kelly's Slough was not limited to waterbirds. We also found Swainson's Hawk, Western Kingbird, and Bank Swallow. Our last stop in the area was near a house with feeders. A pair of Orchard Orioles showed up in the trees, and I found a Spotted Towhee near an outbuilding. The towhee was our second surprise bird of the day as it is not usually found in this area. The bird had a full set of spots, showing no sign of hybridization.
We continued west to Devil's Lake. On the way we found a Moose. The skies opened up at Devil's Lake. In spite of the heavy rain, we found several new species while driving the roads between the overflowing lakes. While Pied-billed Grebe, Western Grebe, and Franklin's Gull were nice, the stars were the 3 Snow Geese (2 blue, 1 white). These were not even on our list of possibilities.
Our last birding location for the day was Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge. We spotted Wild Turkey and Say's Phoebe from the road. Those in my van saw a displaying Horned Lark high overhead and Purple Martin was present at the visitor's center. The auto loop had been washed out, so we birded the picnic area. This produced Willow Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, and Lazuli Bunting. The latter was a rarity here, and was only seen by two of us. The color of the head and the wing bars rule out other possibilities.
Our current totals are 161 bird species and 12 mammal species.
Day's Inn, Jamestown, ND