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Field Trip Report: Exploring Bowdoin NWR

Prairie Wanderers - Photo Credit: Kathy Ross

Prairie Wanderers – Photo Credit: Kathy Ross

By Kathy Ross.

The American Prairie Reserve field trip scheduled for Friday-Sunday, May 20-22, was rerouted because of weather. The trip turned into a fantastic birding exploration of Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge for eleven prairie wanderers.

Incredible lightening and rain-filled thunderstorms in the evenings discouraged travel on the Reserve, but not on other magnificant landscapes of Eastern Montana. 15 miles, 9 hours, perfect birding weather, and 80+ species created a perfect Saturday on the Bowdoin Refuge.

Birding on Bowdoin - Photo Credit: Debra Reeves

Birding on Bowdoin – Photo Credit: Debra Reeves

Sunday we were joined by Mark Sullivan and Heather Harris from the Glasgow office of Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. They, along with Bowdoin biologist Jessica Larson, led us on a walk into the prairie grasses to look for Burrowing Owls. We found the Prairie Dog town but the Owls were elusive this day.

American Avocet and Black-necked Stilt - Photo Credit: Debra Reeves

American Avocet and Black-necked Stilt – Photo Credit: Debra Reeves

But it was worth the journey into the big sky, rolling prairie landscape. We heard Sprague’s Pipits and we got great looks at Baird’s and Grasshopper Sparrows plus 8 other sparrow species, and hundreds of shorebirds and water fowl. To top it off at the end of the day, we encountered a Redheaded Woodpecker and a Blackpoll Warbler.

Dinner with a fabulous group of bird-crazied friends at the Great Northern while a wild prairie thunderstorm blew through outside, ended that perfect day in eastern Montana.

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Apres Birding - Sketch by Clancy Cone

Apres Birding – Sketch by Clancy Cone

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