By Rob Pendergast
On April 30th, 6 birders met up at the historical marker in Buena Vista. Conditions were less than favorable for grassland birding - wind, rain, temps in the 30’s, it seemed much more like November than the eve of May.
At the historical marker we noted a lone GREATER PRAIRIE-CHICKEN hunkered down in the grass trying to stay warm. An UPLAND SANDPIPER called a few times from the same field, but never came into view. A distant TRUMPETER SWAN and NORTHERN HARRIER were noted flying to the south.
Elm Rd yielded an AMERICAN KESTREL actively hunting, while WESTERN MEADOWLARKS and a HORNED LARK called in the background.
Next we checked the flooded field on Townline Rd, northwest winds and diminishing habitat unfortunately vacated all of the waterfowl from this location other than a few Mallards and a pair of TRUMPETER SWANS, which were joined later by two more.
The W Ponds had a bit more diversity waterfowl-wise: a few GREEN-WINGED TEAL and a pair of RING-NECKED DUCKS were gracious enough to hang around for the group. A handful of TREE SWALLOWS were working their way north against the wind and a singing BROWN THRASHER was quite cooperative.
We headed to Townline north of Co W next, a few EASTERN MEADOWLARKS were singing here and a flock of 70ish BREWER’S BLACKBIRDS were in the corn stubble.
An effort for Henslow’s Sparrows on 130th north of W was futile, a RING-BILLED GULL was a brief fly by among a few other common species.
A challenging day for birding in the grassland, but we made the best of it. Thanks to all that came out and braved the weather and thanks to Gerry Janz for helping out.
Before the trip I did make a quick pass down Tower before sunrise. Highlights were: EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILL, AMERICAN WOODCOCK, WILSON’S SNIPE, and a HENSLOW’S SPARROW.