Birding in the Midwest

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Beautiful Birds of the Midwest 

The every popular Western Meadowlark.  The western meadowlark has distinctive calls described as watery or flute-like, which distinguish it from the closely related eastern meadowlark. The western meadowlark is the state bird of six states: Montana, Kansas, NebraskaNorth Dakota, Oregon, and Wyoming.

 

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The Hooded and Common Merganser.  In most places, the common merganser is as much a frequenter of salt water as fresh water. In larger streams and rivers, they float down with the stream for a few miles, and either fly back again or more commonly fish their way back, diving incessantly the whole way. In smaller streams, they are present in pairs or smaller groups, and they float down, twisting round and round in the rapids, or fishing vigorously in a deep pool near the foot of a waterfall or rapid. When floating leisurely, they position themselves in water similar to ducks, but they also swim deep in water like cormorants, especially when swimming upstream. They often sit on a rock in the middle of the water, similar to cormorants, often half-opening their wings to the sun. To rise from water, they flap along the surface for many yards. Once they are airborne, the flight is strong and rapid. They often fish in a group forming a semicircle and driving the fish into shallow water, where they are captured easily. Their ordinary voice is a low, harsh croak, but during the breeding season, they (including the young) make a plaintive, soft whistle. Generally, they are wary, and one or more birds stay on sentry duty to warn the flock of approaching danger. When disturbed, they often disgorge food before moving. Though they move clumsily on land, they resort to running when pressed, assuming a very upright position similar to penguins, and falling and stumbling frequently.

 

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High Power Monocular Smartphone Holder 

 

 

The Ruffed Grouse.  Ruffed grouse have two distinct morphs: grey and brown. In the grey morph, the head, neck and back are grey-brown; the breast is light with barring. There is much white on the underside and flanks, and overall the birds have a variegated appearance; the throat is often distinctly lighter. The tail is essentially the same brownish grey, with regular barring and a broad black band near the end (“subterminal”). Brown-morph birds have tails of the same color and pattern, but the rest of the plumage is much more brown, giving the appearance of a more uniform bird with less light plumage below and a conspicuously grey tail. There are all sorts of intergrades between the most typical morphs; warmer and more humid conditions favor browner birds in general.

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The ruffs are on the sides of the neck in both sexes. They also have a crest on top of their head, which sometimes lies flat. Both genders are similarly marked and sized, making them difficult to tell apart, even in hand. The female often has a broken subterminal tail band, while males tend to have unbroken tail bands, though the opposite of either can occur. Females may also do a display similar to the male. Another fairly accurate sign is that rump feathers with a single white dot indicate a female; rump feathers with more than one white dot indicate a male.

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The red-necked grebe is a migratory aquatic bird found in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Its wintering habitat is largely restricted to calm waters just beyond the waves around ocean coasts, although some birds may winter on large lakes. Grebes prefer shallow bodies of fresh water such as lakes, marshes or fish-ponds as breeding sites.

The red-necked grebe is a nondescript dusky-grey bird in winter. During the breeding season, it acquires the distinctive red neck plumage, black cap and contrasting pale grey face from which its name was derived. It also has an elaborate courtship display and a variety of loud mating calls. Once paired, it builds a nest from water plants on top of floating vegetation in a shallow lake or bog.

 

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   National Geographic Birds               Birds of the Midwest

 

The barred owl, also known as northern barred owl or hoot owl, is a true owl native to eastern North America. Adults are large, and are brown to grey with barring on the chest. Barred owls have expanded their range to the west coast of North America, where they are considered invasive.

The common loon or great northern diver is a large member of the loon, or diver, family of birds. Breeding adults have a plumage that includes a broad black head and neck with a greenish, purplish, or bluish sheen, blackish or blackish-grey upperparts, and pure white underparts except some black on the undertail coverts and vent. Non-breeding adults are brownish with a dark neck and head marked with dark grey-brown. Their upperparts are dark brownish-grey with an unclear pattern of squares on the shoulders, and the underparts, lower face, chin, and throat are whitish. The sexes look alike, though males are significantly heavier than females.

 

It’s National Park Week – Take a Hike!

This week marks National Park Week, where people are encouraged to go outside and explore America’s most treasured national destinations. From hiking along trails to white-water rafting, head to the great outdoors to partake in the adventure and appreciate our planet’s beauty! Check out these incredible National Parks.

Glacier National Park

Wander off the beaten path and discover the rugged beauty of Glacier National Park. Set in northern Montana, it is a photographer’s and hiker’s paradise. Let the scenery take your breath away as you look out at stretches of mountains, untouched lakes and forests. Take a drive on the “Going-to-the-Sun Road,” which is a scenic 52-mile drive or go fishing and explore the various lakes, waterfalls and wildlife.

VirginiaShenandoah National Park, Virginia

Shenandoah National Park is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia and is the perfect escape from the city life. To begin your journey, take Skyline Drive, a byway that runs along the park and offers picturesque vistas. Once you arrive, the opportunities for fun are endless – from hiking the trails to white-water rafting, you will have something to do and everything to see!

Acadia National Park

Located in Maine, Acadia National Park offers a variety of terrain and activities. From the ocean shoreline to Cadillac Mountain and the lakes in between, there are plenty of miles to be hiked, biked or explored. One of the highligh

via It’s National Park Week – Take a Hike! — BC Travel Group

For some great resources:

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America’s Best Day Hikes       Great Hiking Trails of the World

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TrailBuddy Lightweight Trekking Poles 

Hike & Go Seek – Hampta Pass – India

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Hamta Pass lies at an altitude of 4270 m (14039 ft) on the Pir Panjal range in the Himalayas. It is a small corridor between Lahaul’s Chandra Valley and Kullu valley of Himachal Pradesh, India. The nomenclature of the trek was derived from Hamta Village, located below Sethan village, as part of the trek route. This pass is frequently used by shepherds of the lower Himalayan region, seeking high altitude grasslands in the summer, when the dry cold desert of Lahaul is barren.

Numbers of wildflowers and herbs grow at the altitude between 3000 to 3800 m. Vertical rock walls, waterfalls, hanging glaciers, pinewoods, rhododendron forests, open meadows, tiny lakes and peaks rising above 6000 m are the main characteristics of this trek. The trek begins in the green Kullu valley and crosses over, through Hamta Pass, into the drier region of Lahaul.

The trek takes climbers over glaciers, fast-flowing rivers, and challenging terrain, but is nevertheless regarded as suitable for fit beginners. Beyond Hamta Pass, trekkers can choose to extend their trek towards the beautiful Chandrataal lake.

The nearest hub is Manali, in Himachal Pradesh. Most itineraries include transport from Manali to Jobri, from where the trek begins. Depending on the trek itinerary, it takes 3–4 days to complete the trek. Some of the stops are naturally done at Chika, Balu ka Gera, Chatru, etc.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamta_Pass

 

 

Trekking Arizona – Yuma AZ – East Wetland Park — Inside A Soul

East Wetlands Trail 2.7.2020

The month of February was an active one for me, as I was exploring the beauty of the Desert South West in Arizona. First weekend of February, I walked around the trails of the East and West Wetland park, an easy trail that travels through hummingbird exhibits, burrowing owl exhibits, along the Colorado river. A small piece of nature in Downtown Yuma AZ, where the city began. Check it out if you are in the Yuma Area! Great for family trips, children and grown-ups of all ages. If you go to the Castle Park, be careful with the Duck pond, as there are some geese there who are not nice! Haha, enjoy, stay tuned. Travel, hike and enjoy nature, wherever you are. Even the cities have a beauty about them, nature still exists.

Alltrails is a great app to download to look up hiking trails in your area. Just a tip!

“East Wetlands Interpretive Trail is a 2.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Yuma, Arizona that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail. ” Quote from Alltrails

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Common wild life include: Wild cats, coyote, variety of birds, Beaver, and more. Not often you’ll see a coyote or bob cat though!

The East trail follows along the Colorado river:

Beginning of trail is Prison Hill

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Colorado river view from visityuma.com

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Pivot Point

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There is also the West Wetlands park, that has a Castle park and an easy walking path along the duck pond, where you can fish too.

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There is an easy path to follow along the Westland park as well, that leads you to humming bird and burrowing owl exhibits:

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via Trekking Arizona – Yuma AZ – East Wetland Park — Inside A Soul

A Step-by-Step Guide to Yellowstone, Because It Is A Behemoth National Forest — Tim’s favorite Camping Blog

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy a camper, which is kind of the same thing.”

— Somebody that is not me.

Yellowstone is a behemoth National forest. There is a lot to check out in the park as well as luckily lodging in Yellowstone abounds. Yellowstone has more National forest hotels within park boundaries than any other park, as well as camping areas are plentiful as well. Behind Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone is regularly the second-most popular national park for outdoor camping. Currently you are most likely assuming, “plan in advance …” And also yes, while planning in advance is essential in aiding you optimize a Yellowstone National forest holiday, if you are intending an eleventh hour get-a-way you may still have the ability to grab a first-come, first-serve outdoor camping area or hotel room. Last month, I did just that. Utilizing Yellowstone’s online tools, which we’ll discuss in this article, I had the ability to obtain a last minute camping site with my Sprinter Van with no ahead preparation.
In this article, we’ve created a guide to aid you find campsites in Yellowstone National forest, in addition to other lodging options. If you can’t obtain an area in the park, you’ll discover some practical ideas for lodging outside the park also.

Crucial Notes to Consider Concerning Yellowstone Accommodations

  • Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins are the only interior lodging options open year-round.
  • Roosevelt Lodge & Cabins are the earliest to close at the end of the summertime season. They are only open very early June to very early September.
  • None of the lodging choices in Yellowstone have tvs. We only say this to remind you that you are staying in a lodge in a National Park. Expect it to be a little rustic!
  • And don’t get as well caught regarding trying to determine which lodge/cabins are the very best. They are all run by the exact same park concessionaire, Xanterra. The facilities from one lodge to another just differ slightly. Again, exact same advice as selecting campgrounds– concentrate on the area of the park you wish to stay for the night.
    It is worth checking out a few of the lodges during your Yellowstone journey if just for a pit-stop, as a few of them are National Historic Landmarks. Below are our favorites for scoping out:
  • Lake Yellowstone Hotel has a lovely sun area that ignores Yellowstone Lake with many comfy sofas as well as chairs readily available to absorb the view. Outside you’ll typically locate classic Yellowstone touring cars. The resort is among the nicest in the park as well as features a large bar, which makes for a great place to get an alcoholic drink as well as take a little break from exploring.
  • Do not miss the renowned map space at the Mammoth Hot Springs Resort. It features a map of the USA built from numerous types of timber.
  • Old Faithful Inn is a should go to; it is just one of one of the most historical and famous resorts in the whole National Park system. You can not miss its grand existence behind Old Faithful. The Inn is the biggest log hotel in the whole globe. They provide FREE trips daily when the hotel is open, call or inspect online for excursion times. Expert Tip: There is a great little coffee stand tucked away upstairs as well as there is also a bake shop in the hotel if you are desire a sweet reward.

via A Step-by-Step Guide to Yellowstone, Because It Is A Behemoth National Forest — Tim’s favorite Camping Blog

Hike and Go Seek – Petrified Forest

Petrified Forest National Park

Although a bit west of what is considered the tradition Midwest,Petrified Forest National Park is an American national park in Navajo and Apache counties in northeastern Arizona. Named for its large deposits of petrified wood, park covers about 230 square miles, encompassing semi-desert shrub steppe as well as highly eroded and colorful badlands.

The Petrified Forest is known for its fossils, especially fallen trees that lived in the Late Triassic Epoch.  The sediments containing the fossil logs are part of the widespread and colorful Chinle Formation, from which the Painted Desert gets its name.

The park’s seven maintained hiking trails, some paved, vary in length from less than 0.5 miles (0.8 km) to nearly 3 miles.  These named trails are Painted Desert Rim, Puerco Pueblo, Blue Mesa, Crystal Forest, Giant Logs, Long Logs, and Agate House.  Hikers and backpackers may also visit the park’s wilderness areas.

1000px-Shortgrass_pano_Petrified_Forest_NPPanorama of shortgrass prairie near Dry Wash in the southern section of the park.

Some of the larger animals roaming the grasslands include pronghorns, black-tailed jackrabbits (hares), Gunnison’s prairie dogs, coyotes, bobcats and foxes. Bobcats and bullsnakes hunt smaller animals, such as deer mice and white-tailed antelope squirrels in the park’s riparian zones.  More than 16 kinds of lizards and snakes live in various habitats in the park.

 

The once Historic Route 66, of the most famous roads in the United States that ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona and ended  in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covered a total of 2,448 miles.  It has always been iconic for roadside stops….dinners…antiquing…and many historical sites.  Although it longer exists, you can still “get your kicks” on the path it took through the United States on other highways and roads.  In this series, I will highlight the many places you can stop to explore nature along this route….focusing on spots in the Midwest.  Looking for more stops….check out this guide.

And here are a few other great resources.

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America’s Best Day Hikes       Great Hiking Trails of the World

How to enjoy winter in the Midwest

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It might be frigid, but don’t let a snowy forecast stop you from setting aside time for a enjoying the great outdoors.  Head to the woods for a peaceful hike, snow shoeing or cross country skiing.  Here are some fun spots to explore.

 

Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

For picturesque views!

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You’ll marvel at the natural geologic wonders of this beautiful park as you hike along its famous trails. Nestled along State Road 47 southwest of Crawfordsville, the park offers the chance to explore deep, sandstone ravines, walk along stands of aged forests, and enjoy the scenic views along Sugar Creek.

Chicago, Illinois

Skating with the Chicago skyline as your backdrop!

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With its twinkling tree lights and stunning skyline backdrop, the iconic ice skating rink in Millennium Park is a must-stop each winter season.

More than 100,000 ice skaters glide, spin, twirl — and undoubtedly, stumble and fall! — on the downtown ice rink each year. Take to the ice yourself or just soak in the views. Right above the rink is Millennium Park’s famed Cloud Gate sculpture. Snap photos of your reflection in the shiny, snow-dusted “Bean” and watch the crowds below during your winter holiday visit. If you’re in need of a warm-up, head into the Park Grill Cafe on-site for hot chocolate and other snacks.

 

Door County, Wisconsin

Sightseeing along frozen Lake Michigan

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Many people call Door County the Cape Cod of the Midwest, and that’s no less true in winter, when snow covers the picturesque northeast Wisconsin peninsula. Shops, galleries and inns stay open for visitors who come for cozy shopping and peaceful walks along frozen Lake Michigan beaches. Sleigh rides, trolley tours and wine tastings round out a romantic weekend.

 

Interstate State Park, Wisconsin and Minnesota

Hardy hikers can snowshoe on fresh white snow

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Interstate Park comprises two adjacent state parks on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, both names Interstate State Park.  The staddle the Dalles of the beautiful St. Croix River, a deep basalt gorge with glacial potholes and other rock formations.

 

Southwest Lake Michigan shore

A stunning winter lighthouse road trip landscape!

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Every winter, lake-effect storms leave southwest Michigan’s lighthouses and sand dunes cloaked in ice and snow.  From South Haven to New Buffalo and beyond winter is the perfect time to  take a road trip  along Lake Michigan, especially since the beautiful scenes of winter are in full force now.