Unexpected Pleasures: Auroras and Shorebirds

Two days ago I blogged about Gas Station Cuisine, and failed excursions. The forecast for Northern Lights was a G2 Storm Watch, and I also included a birding trip to a nest I had been monitoring. Everything was a failure. Lady Aurora did not dance, and my nest was empty.

Last night when I went to bed, the weather forecast was for clouds plus light rain … and obviously no Aurora Borealis. Waking up at 1:15 am I was surprised to see stars (i.e. clear skies) and numbers from NOAA indicating the Northern Lights might shine. By 1:30 am I was out the door, and by 2:00 am I was standing in the Knife River (water temperature 40F) with the “green glow” beginning to build. At 3:00 am I capture this image … “Dipping into the Green Glow”!

Returning home the expected clouds. wind and cold weather (39F) came by sunrise. Thus, birding looked bleak. By early afternoon the winds were blowing off the lake at 28 mph with light rain and sleet … in sort perfect birding weather!!! I drove down to the end of Park Point, and walked the sand dunes over to the Lake Superior shore. Waves were crashing ashore, but I also found hundreds of shorebirds migrating up to the Arctic. One wonders why these birds don’t just hang in northern Minnesota. It’s plenty cold enough! For 45 minutes I walked the beaches dancing away from the waves till the sleet became unbearable. Here are a few photographs from my horrible day of birding. I was particularly pleased with the flight shot … it was dark … horrible camera conditions.

The moral of the story … expect the unexpected. Two days ago I was set up for what I expected would be a great 24 hours in the Northwoods. It wasn’t. Starting with last night, I expected nothing and had some great experiences!

Ruddy Turnstones

Dunlin

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