The local forecast for today was temperatures near 90 here in Morris,
MN, and I can hear my daughter Laurel telling us of the cold weather
and snow from Morris last winter. She is attending Univ. Minnesota -
Morris here in the flatlands of western Minnesota. The route starts
near town so I was able to sleep in until 4:15 a.m. this morning.
The route apparently was changed a few years ago because of the
preponderance of low maintenance roads of clay that are difficult to
drive when wet. The route was last run in 1995 and appeared to have
some nice wetlands along it, something I didn't see today. It was
mostly corn/soybean habitat - mile after mile - stop after stop. I
did manage to find 48 species, which is about par for when the route
was last surveyed in 1993 and 1995. I did find a small flock of 7
turkeys, a Cooper's Hawk, Willow Flycatcher, and a House Finch - all
new for the route.
The only cat was at a farmstead where the owner stopped to chat - the
stop was quite amazing as I tallied 24 species from in front of his
house! He mentioned that I might be licked by his dog, and I noted
the presence of a cat. The conversation went like this.
Yes, we have a whole herd of them and the birds probably don't like
it very much.
Me - yes, they are pretty efficient predators
He - yes, that is why we have them as he laughed and took off down
Another vehicle pulling a trailer with 2, 4-wheelers with small
trailers attached, stopped and inquired what I was doing. I told him
"doing a bird survey" and noted that it appeared that he was going to
pick up stones from fields. He said yes and suggested that we could
exchange jobs. I said that I knew how to pick up stones, but I bet
he couldn't identify birds; he laughed and agreed.
The wind was stronger that I would have liked but in this mostly
treeless country, it is less of a problem than in wooded habitat. At
least I encountered no barking dogs. After redwings and grackles,
the 2 most abundant species were Vesper Sparrow and Horned Lark.