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Noel's Quad 30 Journal

Sunday, June 13th
Cass Lake, Minnesota


I was looking forward to doing the Cass Lake route because not only is it number 15, but the map indicated that the habitat would be primarily forested - no agricultural fields, no starlings, no House Sparrows, etc. My prediction was true, and the weather was the best I've had since I started the Campaign. I also demonstrated that I didn't need Carl along to make a wrong turn, which cost me 3 stops before I realized that things weren't right. When this happens, there is nothing to do but to turn around and make the correction, erase data from the columns, and pick up from the last correct stop. This route did not have the stop locations described, which helps immensely when one tries to follow a route for the first time. As I do the routes, I'm filling out the stop description form provided by the BBS office and updating those that have stops described. Tomorrow, I'm really on my own since the route has never been run before so I don't know what to expect species-wise.

I also predicted the most common species to be Ovenbird and Red-eyed Vireo - -right again - 83 and 77 individuals, respectively. Warblers, my favorite group, accounted for 18 of the 67 species. The few wetlands I passed weren't too exciting bird-wise. In villages here, the lilacs are at peak bloom while wild geranium and wild columbine are blooming along the roadsides. Daisies are still in bud. I can't explain the dearth of butterflies I've been seeing all month. Today there were oodles of a brown dragonfly and a few Canadian tiger swallowtails. The "friendly" flies also made their first appearance and covered all the dung piles along the gravel road instead of having to compete with the butterflies. I've now crossed the Mississippi River twice - once at LaCrosse on the way to MN and today at stop 28 where it runs between 2 lakes. A large Cliff Swallow colony was using the bridge. Since more than 90% of the bird encounters along a route, especially in forested habitats, is aural vs. visual, it was especially neat to watch a singing Golden-winged Warbler foraging in a willow next to the road and later a second one that was silent but foraging in low shrubs next to the road.

I also found myself wondering why fishermen pulling boats always seem to be in a big hurry when I thought fishing was supposed to be relaxing. I guess they are hurrying so they can relax when they are on the water. One 60-year-old with his Indian girlfriend rubbing elbows with him in his pick-up stopped to talk 3 times and tell me that they had just seen a group of Turkey Vultures - red heads and all. I'm staying at a hotel at an Indian casino, but I promise I'm not spending any Quad 30 funds (nor any of mine for that matter).

I did see 1 Turkey Vulture and also added Brown Creeper, 2 species added to the cumulative list of 125 species for this route. One raven near a stop at the lowest pitched "croak," while just up the road a group of 4 was having a great family discussion.

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