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Subject:Glenwood BBS results (long)
From:Robert P Russell <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Wed, 20 Jul 2011 17:17:07 -0400

And then there was Glenwood.  I look forward to this count more than any other due to the high species diversity or maybe the spectacular view from my motel on Highway 28 of Lake Minnewaska spreading out far below you on the Pope County landscape, one of the finest viewpoints on the entire Great Plains where city planners permitted an A&W Root Beer drive-in to grab the choicest view or maybe it's the gas station/car wash across the street that has the best view.  Anyway on 15 June I had a riproarer of a BBS survey, perhaps my most memorable of my 50 something I've run the past decade.  76 species and 746 individuals is among the higher totals for this count but 2 species made the day.  The count starts on the Grove Lake State Wildlife Area near Sedan where cranes, loons, and passerines try to drown each other out with a cacaphony of sound, making it hard to distinguish among species.  Things then calm down as you head west but this year a few birds really stood out along the way.  Nine Verries was an all-time high and the wet year seemed to favor their presence in small willow and alder stands all over west-central MN this June.  The route runs through Glacial Hills State Park and although I had no shrike (seen earlier in the year) the meadowlarks, Grasshopper Sparrows, Field Sparrow, Dickcissel (4), and Bobolink (2) all showed up although Bobolink numbers have been disturbingly low on this count ever since one farmer plowed up and over what was until recently a sandy, ungrazed prairie hillock full of Bobolink and Sedge Wrens--guess he couldn't resist the high price of corn but such hills should never have been plowed.  After a long fog delay I got going again and between stops saw an answer to one of Minnesota's oldest questions--"where do Turkey Vultures breed?" for there in a hayloft of a very old roadside barn was a vulture just sitting there looking out at the scene, very likely his nesting location.  Riding a high through the state park I crested the last hill south of the park and noted 2 eagles soaring together.  I had seen 2 eagles between stops in the fog and presumed they were these same birds, now soaring in the building thermals and partial sunshine.  Bald Eagle was a new bird for this route so I was pleased to record them but imagine my surprise when I stopped to check them out and saw the glistening golden/yellowish napes of 2 adult Golden Eagles soaring only a few hundred feet away and heading slowly to the southwest.  Perhaps late arctic breeders since the arctic was still iced in on that date or maybe birds displaced by the western states/Texas fires but for whatever reason they were there, a nice first for a MN BBS route.  Bob Russell USFWS

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