Saturday, October 15, 2016

ND finally!!

(Matthew did not succeed in blowing us away we finally got our phone and power back on and we have about 1/2 the debris removed so far!  We head to NC tomorrow and I hope we don't get any flood water in our path)

I was excited to be on my way to ND mainly because I had planned some cool places to see and because I felt bad that I claimed to have been to ND but all I really did was make a quick cross over the line and turn around...NOW I can say I've traveled across, up, down, and diagonally,  thru North Dakota.  The Dakotas share something like the Carolina's where I live North and South!...I do believe most people only think of the movie Fargo when they think of ND, like they think Myrtle Beach when they hear SC. The movie did make most North Dakotan's out to seem like total idiots. One thing I do say is the lingo was pretty right on, You betcha!
(9/16/2016)  If you have never seen the movie Fargo it's a classic and you really must see it. It is not the kind of movie to watch with with  your grandkids. 

ND is vast prairie and farmland.  Now it also has the horrid job of being an oil boom state and the dreaded Halliburton has soiled her beauty with the zillion oil rigs, trucks, haulers, dirt and mud associated with that industry, scoundrels from all over, oh and pollution! I hope ND can reclaim her dignity at some point in history.  


The very first thing I did was find lodging for the night at Turtle River State Park.

They had only one loop open and it was kinda tight, but not crowded as this was Thursday...It is a very pretty park with a river running through, a big amphitheater, nice bath house, and some trails for hiking, group camps, picnic area all the good stuff!  All pull through sites too with electric and water. Kinda steep at $25 plus the Day Use fee of $5. 

The reason I chose this campground was its proximity to Kellys Slough NWR. 

Somewhere along my travels I had picked up this brochure of the Prairie Birding Routes in the Red River Valley.  It had very good directions to 15 or so areas to look for Prairie birds as well as Migrating waterfowl.  The Slough was #1 on the trail and consists of several wetlands, and mudflats and it was chock full of  gulls, ducks, and waders. The first day I had heavy clouds and some rain...

each stop gave directions to the next stop...but I spent a lot of time at the wetlands..

of course as is the rule, birds want to fly as far away from people as possible so it was a game of trying to figure out what I was are many Franklin's Gulls in various stages of life. I don't know if y'all are aware of how gulls mature.  At each stage of life say 1 yr they look totally different than they do say at 3 that's why gulls are so darn hard to figure out! The Franklin Gull has 2 complete molts each yr so that makes it even harder to ID...but it is a Prairie species and a new life bird for me! CaChing!

Once mature this gull will have a black head.  Along with the Franklin's Gulls many Northern Shovelers were around as well as American Avocets.  These I have seen before but I've yet to see one in his really pink breeding color..maybe one day I will have that privilege. 

this one has just a wee bit of pink

Other wading bird present were Greater Yellow Legs, Pectoral Sandpiper..and Least Sandpiper, I was told by some other birders on Facebook that all 3 species are in this combo shot!  (there's a Facebook page called Bird ID Please) 

2 greater Yellowlegs, on the left the Pectoral Sandpiper, and the small one in front the Least Sandpiper.
( I had these as a Gr Yellow Legs, Lesser Yellow legs and a don't know!!)

Another shot of only the Greater Yellowlegs...

and some Dunlin as best I can make out..

and some-- Im calling-- Short Billed Dowitchers.  I still can't tell them apart from long billed. 

these colorful bushes looked like candy sitting in the mud along the edge of the water...

The slough was just beautiful...

I drove some of the fields looking for sparrow and grouse also...

I did see both but the grouse eluded a this one of  Savannah Sparrow.  Kind of backlit--

and check out this huge flock of Yellow Headed Blackbirds! My first sighting of these fun to watch birds!! 

with the white wing patches and the yellow/orange head they are very colorful in motion...and when sitting!

saw many large flocks in the corn and the fields of sunflowers..

this field was ready for harvest.  I spent 2 days exploring this area and spent 2 nights at Turtle's more of the scenery in the area..most of the farms are now more like corporations and all that is left of the old ways are these decaying buildings...

My Take on corporate farming:  agriculture has been the main stay of the area for many decades so there is a lot of by gone buildings around I enjoy seeing them...the huge mechanized grain farming is mostly done to support the huge beef/chicken/pork industry in this country so I'm not a fan of it! I would much rather see small community gardens as the way we feed ourselves.

... nature was busy with her own seeds...
the milkweed was dispersing seed and there's plenty of it around too!

After leaving Turtle Rock behind I tried to see the Prairie Chicken Lek in a nearby area...but was driven back by MUD! So....I left the area headed West to Rugby, ND.  They lay claim to being the ....

yep the geographical center of North America!!  

It was a fun stop for a couple photos and then I headed North on Hwy 3, there was a special Place I wanted to see...I found lodging at Lake Metigoshe State Park right back up by the Canadian Border! 


A wedding was in progress when I arrived.  They partied till midnight..but it was never too loud to bother me, I could still hear a Great Horned Owl somewhere ....out there...
In the morning I headed a little East and North to the special place I mentioned. 

Eleanor Roosevelt: You must do the thing you think you can not.


  1. Fargo is one of my favourite films, in fact most films made by the Cohen brothers are very good. I think that ND was settled initially by many Scandinavians and British so that may account for the dialect. Some of the buildings, barns and churches particularly are Scandinavian looking. Those yellow headed blackbirds are striking.
    Good news about Hurricane Matthew, I was following its progress and wondered if you were in its path.

    1. We were in Matthews "Big Ass Swirl" and he traveled so slowly 12 mph (19ish kl) so it seemed to just be sitting there with the high winds and pounding rain! The Scandinavian influence is still alive and well in these upper midwestern regions, their festivals, the food, and the dialects are living proof. Thy lean very far right politically also--

  2. You can definitely feel good about saying you've been in ND now! Yah, For sure, you betcha. I think it was Dave Barry who wrote that South Dakota's slogan was "at least we aren't North Dakota" ... however, we found much of interest in both states! But you found more , especially all the great birds you scored! Beautiful ! Loved the whole post.

    1. I ended up staying in ND for 7 whole days a record for me! And since I was so close to the Canadian border I got to experience some of the WAY north part of the state.

  3. And also .. we have friends here on Oregon who were born in
    ND ... they still talk like that sort of. And there was an article in the paper when Fargo came out on video, some former NDans here in town had a viewing party...served jello and other Midwest treats. All for fun.

    1. Haha I enjoyed everyone I met and interacted with, and they are very warm and welcoming! I ended up buying a tire in one town and they were so helpful getting me back on the road!

  4. You sure were in water bird heaven. Great shots of the flying geese. I love the old barns too. Looks like another great adventure happening.

    1. Hi Jo, I could have stayed there another day but the weather changed so I figured I best get moving!

  5. Great bird shots. When I think of North Dakota, I think of Teddy Roosevelt and the Enchanted Highway.

    1. I didn't know about the Enchanted Highway...wish I had, but Def stay tuned for TRNP!

  6. I think I'm finally caught up on your blog! Congrats on all the lifers and good birds. I am guilty of the same thing with North Dakota- drove in and drove out. Did you go by Standing Rock at all? Seems like something that would be up your alley.


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