Saturday, April 19, 2008

Loon Invasion

A shot of the sunrise during my run on Wednesday...I remembered my camera!

Today was not sunny like the photo above, nor was it warm. There was a slight drizzle in the air, and it was about 40 degrees. Still, very comfortable for a long run, which is what I did.

I put in 12 miles, looping around my lake a couple of times. The running was good, but the birdwatching even better. Those of you that have been reading for some time know that my blog posts in the spring tend to be more of a birding journal, and this report will be no exception. Today was just that good.

Some new arrivals include the cute little ruby-crowned kinglet, bufflehead, osprey, northern flicker, American coot, and the beautiful fox sparrow. Already, it was a good day.

I saw a couple of loons (our official state bird) as I circled my lake. Then I saw a couple more. And even more. Eventually I stopped and counted 15 of them in a single bay! I figured conservatively that there were at least 20 loons that I saw, probably more because they are hard to keep track of when they dive underwater.

We are being invaded by loons! :) Clearly, they were migrating north to their nesting grounds, and the lake in my neighborhood was serving as a wayside rest. What a treat! Never before have I seen so many loons at once.

Could this birding moment possibly be topped? As it turned out, yes, it could. How does adding a new bird to your "life list" sound?

Rounding the southwest corner of the lake, the trail is literally right next to the water. I am chugging along and out of the water pops this duck-like waterbird with a thin beak and long neck. I stopped running, and I think I may have even said out loud, "I'll be damned!" It was a red-necked grebe!

The grebe was no more than 15 feet away from me, and he just sat there on the water. He was a gorgeous, if not somewhat unique looking bird, with a wedge-shaped head and a velvety reddish orange neck. What a spectacular find. Had I not been running by that exact spot at that exact time, I might have gone right by and missed the grebe. I just stood and watched him for awhile, and he slowly started to move away from me out onto the lake.

Today I got to check off the red-necked grebe on my life list in my very old copy of Roger Tory Peterson's A Field Guide To Bird East of the Rockies. That, along with several new spring arrivals and a display of loons unlike anything I have ever seen, makes for a very nice Saturday.

And how does one celebrate a great running and birding day, you ask? Why, with an old fashioned Norwegian-inspired dinner of fresh potato sausage from Knaus Sausage House in Kimball, along with sides of fresh asparagus and goat cheese mashed potatoes, of course! :)

Embracing my inner Scandinavian

Until next time,

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