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Noel's Quad 30 Journal

Tuesday, June 8th
Chokio, Minnesota


TEN surveys completed! I've been flirting with rain on several counts, and I tried to will away this morning's. I did until stop 41 when a real gullywasher (except there are no gullies here in southwestern MN) struck, complete with all kinds of lightning and thunder. The survey had been going really well so I waited out the storm in the parking lot of a waterfowl production area for about 40 minutes. I was still able to complete the survey within the 5-hour window that is preferred.

It is amazing here in pothole and slough country how you can be going through mile after mile of corn and soybean fields, but then come upon a small water-filled depression - the bird life world drastically changes. The most productive pothole complex this morning yielded, in addition to the expected western MN species, Redhead and Gadwall.

However, a sighting of one species sent a shiver through me for the first time during the Quad 30 expedition. About 2 minutes into a stop, I maneuvered the car so I could use the window-mounted scope to gain an accurate count of geese. Adults and young were clustered together and for waterfowl, one is not supposed to include young in a BBS count. As I finished counting 10 adults, a large bird called and flew past - a Marbled Godwit! I knew this species was possible but did not really expect to find one. As WDNR's Steve Miller and I have discussed, wouldn't it be great to re-introduce this wonderful shorebird species to Wisconsin where it once bred.

This route was last run in 1989, and since I've yet to complete the checklist, I'm not sure of the final count. Overall, number of indivduals for most species is par or above average. A noticeable exception is Western Meadowlark - the count for 1987, 88, and 89 was 33, 34, and 51 individuals. I tallied only 7 today. This species is in real trouble in the eastern part of its range.

I'm inching my way north in MN, and it won't be long before I'll be in the company of some new, more northern species.

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