Traveling resumed

We were on the road ten days. The weather was great, clear sky most mornings, scattered clouds afternoon and evening. It rained in the night once and light rain fell as we drove one morning. The temperature was in the 70s most days, 80s a couple of days, 50s at night. The motorhome ran well, the refrigerator, stove and everything else worked though I had not used it in a year and a half.

It was a great trip, except for the birds. We saw birds but neither the species or the flocks I told Laura to expect. We did see gulls all along the way but except for a few herring gulls they were all ring-billed and there were not that many. The only ducks we saw were scattered mallards, black ducks, blue-winged teal and one flock of about eighty red-breasted mergansers. As for shore birds, we saw two greater yellowlegs and heard a few killdeers.

Waders, we saw great blue herons and great egrets.  The egrets were a surprise to me. They were more numerous than the herons.  I thought the range of great egrets didn’t extend that far north. Turkey vultures were another surprise to me. As a boy in northern Iowa I never saw a turkey vulture. I thought of them as southern birds. I knew the species has been expanding its range north, that they’re now common in northern Indiana, but I didn’t know their range now included northern Michigan.

Little birds were another surprise. We saw one flock of red-winged blackbirds and that wasn’t until the last day of our trip when we were just a few miles north of the Indiana-Michigan line. We saw two robins. Not two flocks of robins, two birds. We didn’t see one warbler. In the forests where I expected to see warblers we saw black-capped chickadees, downy woodpeckers, white-breasted nuthatches and one pileated woodpecker. The pileated is another bird I’ve always thought of as a more southern species but again a species that I know has been extending its range north.

Hawks were the most scarce of any birds we saw. We did see three broad-winged hawks and we saw two bald eagles. But we didn’t see a single kestrel and we saw only one red-tailed hawk. That bird, like the flock of red-winged blackbirds, was near the Indiana-Michigan state line.

So we didn’t see the birds I thought we would. But we saw the beginning of fall color and some birds and I got “on the road again.”

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