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West Bend, WI 53095

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Noel's Quad 30 Journal

Thursday, June 10th
Oklee, Minnesota


I knew I was in the same area of MN, the western part, as I was serenaded to sleep by a Western Meadowlark, but I knew I had moved north when I emerged from my motel room in Red Lake Falls and heard a Wilson's Snipe "winnowing" overhead. For once I knew that I didn't have to worry about rain as I drove the 28 miles to the starting point, which I found with ease. Unlike for some routes, there were terrific descriptions for each stop, and I only had to add a couple of updates - no longer bee hives at one stop and the large cottonwood is gone from another. The Oklee route was last surveyed in 1997.

I actually jumped at stop 2 when a couple of magpies awoke and started screeching. I was hopeful that I could add this species to my cumulative species list for the Quad 30. And although these flew out the backside of the aspen stand, I did see 3 others at other stops. I sure wish this species made excursions into WI more often.

For the 50 stops, I tallied 59 species, about par with past counts but did manage 4 new species for the route - loon, Hooded Merganser, Y-thr Vireo, and the Bird of the Day, whose selection was tough to choose. I tallied an amazing 383 Cliff Swallows, primarily from 2 colonies using large concrete box culverts. Have you ever tried counting a swarm of 250 swallows when they are in a flying swirling mass? I couldn't either and just tried to estimate them as they all protested loudly and some quite closely.

I had 2 human encounters that were at the extremes. One 35-year-old fellow in a pickup stopped by and made the comment that it appeared that some "scientific process" was underway. He seemed quite pleased with his assessment when I told him I was doing a breeding bird survey.

And then there was Roy. He had pulled out of his long driveway, and when he saw me stop, he slowly backed up about 300 yards and stopped next to me. He appeared to be about 70 and was beyond description in appearance. I told him 4 times that I was doing a bird survey and after the 3rd time, he wanted to know if I wanted to know his name and then told me that his name was Roy. I finally dropped the word "survey" and just said birds, and after 2 more times, he caught it and smiled. He then proceeded to talk about eagles in some sort of rambling way. I told him that I had seen no eagles but had seen a few cranes, which seemed to please him. I guess that was enough as he just started to drive off but killed the engine 3 times. As I drove past his driveway, his name, Roy Nurmi, was on the battered red box.

Later, at Cindy's Cafe in Plummer as I was having my daily pancake, yes only 1 again as Cindy said they were big when I ordered 2, and coffee, one of the "regulars" asked Cindy if Roy had been in for his daily breakfast. Cindy said no, and the fellow said that he would go check. Seems like he has discovered 2-3 deaths by checking upon folks when they haven't been seen at times and locations as expected. For some reason, I was hesitant to ask if he was talking about Roy Nurmi. Guess I'll never know.

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