|Rocky Mountain National Park - Elevation 11000ft|
Sharon and I were sitting at the kitchen table on Saturday when the phone rang and it was our son Bryan who lives in Longmont, CO. He called to tell us he was available for us to come out next weekend to chase a Baird's Sparrow that was nesting in Colorado. It was around 3pm when the call came in, so I quickly got the maps out and planned a roundabout route to get there. By that evening we were packed up and ready to go the next morning. We would drive out the northern route around Chicago, up into Wisconsin and through Minnesota to the Badlands National Park in South Dakota also visiting Custer State Park and Mt Rushmore. From there down to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in Nebraska, then to Colorado. On the way home we would travel through Kansas and Missouri back into Illinois, Indiana and Ohio and finally home. We put on 3200 miles on this route, 13 states in eleven days.
The first day's drive was a long one but we made it past Chicago. We wanted to get around the city so we wouldn't have to deal with the morning rush hour on Monday. Along the route we passed this old car and matching camper from Maryland and we kept seeing him repeatedly the next two days in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The second day we started our travels into Wisconsin and visited some small parks to look for birds. We were still getting the common eastern birds at this point but in one field Sharon found a couple of Sandhill Cranes. Good Spotting!
|Two Sandhill Cranes|
Our next stop was at Necedah NWR in west central Wisconsin. This is a very large refuge with lots of lakes and marshes. We were here in search of Whooping Cranes.
|Karner Blue Butterfly|
|Karner Blue Butterfly - Internet Photo|
|Whooping Crane Statue|
|Distant Trumpeter Swans a young|
|One of about six Red-headed Woodpeckers just in this area.|
After searching for the crane in the recommended areas we went off on our own since the visitor center was now closed. We drove about 6 miles north of the usual lakes to a road called Lupine Trail. It was quite far from the other lakes so I didn't expect to see any cranes but Sharon wanted to check it out in case any Lupines were still in bloom. We were driving along the trail not seeing any Lupines so I turned to Sharon, who had been spotting some good birds on this trip so far, I said "OK little Miss Spotty, find me a Whooping Crane." So she turned around and looked backwards past some shrubs and said "How about that bird right there?" Darn if it wasn't a lone Whooping Crane.
|Whooping Crane - The only one we saw of the eighty or so on the refuge.|