Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Top Gun Birder

I had an interesting day yesterday. Got to meet a "top gun birder" actually. My birding mentor, Mr Science, brought one of Minnesota's birding "uber-gurus" John H. by for a "consultation." Now what would a pro like John be doing being
hitched up with a raw rookie like me?
To begin with Mr. Science was helping
John plan a Fillmore county birding tour
for the Zumbro Valley (Rochester)
Audobon Society. As a side issue, I was
to familarize John with "ebird". Ebird, for
those not attuned, is Cornel Universities
birding website and the home of the Christmas
Bird Count. I had been using it for over a year
as my "listing" repository.
I had just finished that job when I began
demonstrating a few of the birding posts on
this blog. One of them involved a line of
pelicans floating on the calm waters of
Lake Pepin. It had turned out they were
not floating but standing on a sand bar in the
middle of the lake. They had saved my
butt from crashing into the sandbar, when
racing towards it, I realized the birds were
standing, not floating.
John had been intently looking at the various
bird pictures, when suddenly he asked me
to magnify the Pelican picture. "What are
the little ones to the right," he asked.
"Some kind of seagulls," I ventured. "Draw
it up closer," he suggested. I took a stab. "Er
Ringbills?" "Yes, but not those two on the
right. Caspian terns are what they are."
Even Mr. Science was amazed.
According to the Minnesota Ornithological
Societies records John has the most birds
ever listed in Fillmore County. He is also
high on the list in many other counties in
the state. He is also approaching the top
record for the state as a whole. Given the
fact that he is also at least ten years younger
that all those ahead of him on the lifetime
Minnesota list..... well, with his great skill
and a little luck someday...
Yup, yesterday March 2, 2009, I was
fortunate to be in the presence of one of
birdings All-Stars!


  1. Hey Troutbirder,
    you forgot to mention that John's a genuine "Minnesota nice" guy too! He's not all "full of himself" like some of the top gun birders I've encountered and he takes the time to explain how and why he arrived at the bird ID--especially on rare or uncommon birds.

  2. What a great blog. I especially loved your post on old #10 from Yellowstone - one of my favorite places. I remember him as well. Here in Utah, we have national parks all around us within less than a day's drive (five in-state, and Yellowstone and Jackson Hole, among others), so I take advantage of that at every opportunity. I will enjoy seeing photos and writings of the country where you live - an amateur birder and nature lover myself.

  3. You have such interesting posts and good photos. It's great fun to visit this blog!

  4. How exciting, to have someone with such great expertise in birding,to consult with.

    It is obvious by your writing how much you enjoyed this time with him.

  5. Troutbirder: Thanks for visiting my blog again. I think Ft. Peck is "one" of the largest earth-filled dams in the world. It used to bear the distinction of being the "largest" when it was first built. But now, I think there are at least two that are larger (if not more). One is Aswan Dam, which I think is in Egypt, and another one is Tarbela Dam in Pakistan. I'm not really up on this stuff, but I just googled it!

  6. Yikes!! How fun to spend time with a big time birder!!

  7. I had commented here earlier, but don't see it. Anyway, my husband's father worked on Ft. Peck Dam when it was being built. He still has a lunchbox buried in it and a pair of shoes. He was running for his life when a big chunk of the fill started to slide out into the lake. There's 6 guys still buried in there, among other things.

  8. It is great to meet these people. You gain so much from their knowledge sometimes. Yet on the otherhand, amatures sometimes see things from a different angles and can add a whole new perspective to things.

  9. Excellent! I have yet to make full use of eBird. It's nice to be around birders who know their stuff, isn't it? BTW, I will be helping to lead my first birding field trip this spring!

  10. Wonderful post and pictures!!

  11. Thanks for checking in on Write On every now and then, and for sharing your sons' pictures. I so enjoy your writing and pictures, and happy you have time to continue sinking in to Nature. Are you aware of HERON DANCE? Wonderful publication, on line and hard copies, etc. It's snowing today but the fat robins and gold finch are flocking the old mountain ash berries! Star