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10/10/08 - Crosby Farm & Vadnais Lake, MN

Posted Saturday 11th October 2008 at 01:11 by bkrownd
My last day in Minnesota is over, sadly. I'm getting on the plane to the second leg of my grand tour - Lincoln, Nebraska. Forecast is mixed for Lincoln, but I hope to get a couple of days to visit the prairie restoration projects and saline wetlands.

Today started cold with sprinkles, and some of the most dramatic and wonderful clouds I've ever seen. It was like looking up at the frozen surface of a roiling ocean. Big waves and lots of splashes and structures. Since I had lunchtime plans I had to miss a few hours of exploration and made no big trips. I concentrated on the reliable locations - Crosby Farm Park and Vadnais Lake.

Crosby Farm was a bit muted by the cold and wet morning weather, but things picked up by the time I had to leave. I didn't see any new species, but plenty of birds came out to get their photos taken, so it was fun and productive. The best part was stalking a shy wren through the marsh grasses. After about 20 minutes of patience watching the grass blades twitch here and there he finally stuck his head between a couple of clumps of grass to get a look at me and I managed to get a lucky 'clear' photo manual focus through the carex grasses. Pretty much every species I saw there this week made an appearance this morning, plus a couple others. An unexpected exception was once-numerous yellow-rumped warbler, though I didn't get to the part of the park where I saw most of them Wednesday. I flushed the same small ground bird I saw at Bald Eagle Lake yesterday, and still have no idea what it is.

An odd thing I finally noticed is that the mammals playing in the pond at Crosby Farm aren't muskrats this time - they're otters! I just assumed they were the same muskrats as I saw on previous trips.

After lunch the weather changed completely, and it was clear and warm. I went back to Vadnais Lake. Found the vocal red-breasted nuthatch(es?) in the same location right away. Managed to get a better but still too distant photo - unfinished business. Stalked fox sparrows and catbirds in the bushes. Tried to photo a distant loon on the lake. One new species was mourning dove. As with Crosby Farm, the hundreds of yellow-rumped warblers were totally gone. The waxwings and most of the kinglets were also missing. Still, there was plenty to see.
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