Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Iowa Adventure

My interest is birding. Her interest is
shopping. Late March "cabin fever" has
set in and we decide to head south
towards Northeastern Iowa and the
Mississippi Valley.


As I enter my second year of serious
birding my "life list" reveals some
serious gaps. Shorebirds is one.
Fillmore County Minnesota where
Troutbirder lives is the only county
in "The Land Of Ten Thousand Lakes"
without a lake. Not exactly prime
shorebird territory. The Mississippi
Valley, an hours drive to the south
and east, might be the answer

New Albin, Iowa has a long gravel road
heading through the river backwaters
to a boat landing. It might just be the
ticket for finding shorebirds, assuming
they have arrived from their wintering

Binocs and Peterson in hand the
first pool we come to has dozens
of shorebirds along with some Herring
Gulls, geese, and several eagles watching
from nearby.

The problem becomes immediately
obvious. The shorebirds all look the same. And yet I know they are not. It reminds me of my previous rookie year experiences with sparrows and warblers.
The devil is in the details.

I note fairly quickly some have yellow legs and others don't. Some of the
yellowlegers are about 1/3 bigger than
the others. Check the Peterson. Well...
Greater and Lessers Yellowlegs. Two "lifers" right there! It's a start.

The rest proved to be the kind I could
narrow down to several species but was
unsure at that point. Still, I was happy with
the mornings work.

It was approaching lunch time so we
headed on further south down the river
road to Lansing Iowa. Lansing is your
typical small river town with one big exception - Horsfalls Lansing Variety.


There are two of them (the old and
the new store) each taking up
about a city block. It is difficult to
find the right words to describe them.
Junk stores comes immediately to mind.
To others it might be "bargains" or even
"treasures." I will stick with the word
"junk" although it's not used junk like
you find at garage sales. It's all in the
original packages, mostly direct from

The aisles are narrow. So narrow you
may have to turn sideways or hop over
boxes to find your way thru. I don't believe
the town could possibly have a fire marshall.

To the bargain hunter this is paradise personified. Mrs T loves it. Myself, perhaps,
a little less so. I'm strictly a Sam's Club kind of guy. (Just kidding!)


  1. My kind of outing! Great fun!

  2. Sounds like a fun trip - something for everyone!

  3. That first picture is a most beautiful overlook.

    The variety store I would happily skip;)

  4. No competition here for Mrs. T in the store, I would take a quick look and then even more quickly retreat out the door. Too much "stuff" for me! but that view from the overlook in that first shot,... i could hang out there for a long time! if no bench I'd tote along a folding chair and spend the afternoon!

  5. I LOVE a bargain but get a bit anxious in really close quarters. Thrift stores and flea markets- FUN!

    Shorebirds- almost a tough as gulls in my opinion. I'd really like to learn them though. I bought a wonderful shorebird guide, but they really look alike to me.

  6. Great photo's. Next time you venture to Iowa maybe go to Lake Red Rock in Knoxville. We seen nine eagles there in Nov. They were hanging out near the dam!!
    Also seen gulls and all kinds of pelicans!
    Take care and keep up the wonderful bloggings!! I really enjoy your blog.

  7. AH! Two suggestions: 1. Try Florida in the winter for amazing shore and water birds!! Sanibel Island, where every few years we go for a week just before Christmas, is half nature preserve. Birders' Paradise! Great for dolphins and alligators, too.
    2. Head to the Mississipp in deep winter, near a dam that prevents the water from freezing, for amazing eagle-watching. (Can't speak to the shopping issue along the Old Man River, but it's pretty darn good in Sanibel!)

  8. Sounds like a wonderful trip. I'm always after shorebird photos too, but living on the plains of Montana doesn't offer many chances. We have to trave a ways to get those kinds of shots! Nice post.

  9. Looks like a great trip and a beautiful area. Nothing could convince me to go into that store.

  10. I've never been to Lansing, IA. That variety store looks intriguing, but I'd probably end up staying outside looking at the birds anyway!

  11. I like to visit the antique stores, but I need it out on the shelf so I can browse. And it sure shouldn't be from china. Other than that I am in and out of a store, not much on shopping. Bird seed does make me stop at Walmart.

    Ring billed gull? Or Herring Gull? Can't see it good enough to tell. Look at it's bill real good, especially the end of it.

    The birds have got me, hands down. Notice I stop at Walmart for birdseed.

    Leedra’s Photos For Fun

    Leedra’s Greeting Cards

    Photography By Leedra

  12. That's what I call shopping!

  13. Love that first pic of the overlook. That kind of view doesn't come in a box from China.

  14. I think I would avoid buying there as it would find me a week to find what I am looking for. :) Love that first picture.

  15. Have you ever come further west to visit DeSoto Bend Wildlife Refuge in Iowa during Sandhill Crane migration? (about this time every year.) Thousands, thousands, thousands of birds. Check it out on the web sometime. :)

  16. Sounds like a great trip for everyone!

    I too love that first picture.

  17. We all have our birding learning curves.

    Shorebirds? Not yet.
    Sparrows? Not quite.
    Warblers? A ways to go.


  18. I'm in your camp. Hardly ever spend any time with the shorebirds and am woefully inept at ID with them. Shopping? Not a fan either!

  19. Look at all that wonderful and expansive views of water. It would be fun to go canoeing there.

  20. Hi there,
    I was going to post a reply to you at my site, but figured it would be more fun to come check out yours. I always wonder how someone finds my site, and usually they are googling something else! I enjoyed this post and I would love the old store. Arkansas is so full of places like that. Places trapped in time warps. I rarely capture the birds of my Ozarks because I haven't the patience. But you have inspired me to do better!
    Jeanie Oliver

  21. :)
    I can feel your pain when it comes to knowing shore birds..we are visiting nw ohio near lake erie (for husband's RC WWII airplane show in Toledo) and have seen tons of ducks that I have no idea what kind they are..taking lots of pictures and sitting in my hotel room at night staring at the computer looking up ducks in my guides!!
    I'm learning...but soooo many ducks!
    Glad you enjoyed your trip..sounds like there was something for everyone ... some birding, some shopping..always good when everyone is smiling!

    Enjoyed catching up on all your other posts!
    ain't life good..esp after 30+ years of teaching jr high and high school. Just retired myself, 35 at high school, and am still eating my lunch at 10:45 in the morning...not really but you know what I mean.

  22. I'll take that first view in a paper bag to go, please! :) I don't mind funky little stores like that, but somehow staying outdoors is way more appealing this time of year. It's been a looong winter!