March 2014 Recap

In one of those odd occurrences I saw the same number of species in Johnson County in March of 2014 as I did in March of 2013 – 85 species.  The difference being 10 different species between the years.  Here are the differences:

2014 2013
Ross’s Goose Mute Swan
Cackling Goose Double-crested Cormorant
Blue-winged Teal Northern Harrier
Northern Pintail Pectoral Sandpiper
Long-tailed Duck Wilson’s Snipe
Common Goldeneye Barred Owl
Northern Bobwhite Hairy Woodpecker
Common Loon Merlin
Herring Gull Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Eurasian Collared-Dove Purple Finch

The highlights this March were the Ross’s Geese, Long-tailed Duck, Common Loon, Herring Gull, and Eurasian Collared-Dove.  Misses that might not be seen again in 2014 were Mute Swan (Tom had one on Lamb Lake in late March), Merlin, and Purple Finch. Merlin and Purple Finch are still a possibility in April and again in the fall. Mute Swan is a topic for another day as we have a year-round pair in Johnson County.  But are they countable?

Bufflehead pair that never swam close enough to get in the same picture as the Ross's Geese.  Franklin 03/30/14
Bufflehead pair that never swam close enough to get in the same picture as the Ross’s Geese. Franklin 03/30/14

Par, the number of birds I expected to see for the month, was 75.  I might have set that a little low but the continuing waterfowl bumped up the total species seen.  I will have to evaluate that next year.

March 2014 was still cold with only a few of the weekend days not cold and blustery.  And the continued freeze on the Great Lakes could be seen around the state with Red-necked Grebes and Red-throated Loons being seen inland.

Red-necked Grebe in Shelby County. Never did see one in Johnson County. 03/28/14
Red-necked Grebe in Shelby County. Never did see one in Johnson County. 03/28/14

And it was dry towards the end of the month so shorebird spots were dry. I can also tell I didn’t get out as early on the weekends by missing Barred Owl.

Hours in the field were comparable (5 weekends):

March 2013 – 2210 minutes – 36.8 hours in the field.

March 2014 – 2057 minutes – 34.3 hours in the field.

The big difference were miles driven:

March 2013 – 515 miles

March 2014 – 333 miles

So I saw the same number on 182 less miles (7 gallons of gas in my car).  So that begs the following question.  Would I have seen more species driving more miles or seen even more driving less?  I would never have seen the Eurasian-collared Dove driving and probably missed the Ross’s Geese. But I would never have got to Driftwood to see the Common Loons.  So there is a balance there I will need to explore.

Still not as many miles walked/biked as I would have liked because of the weather. No pounds lost but none gained. Hopefully more miles walked/biked with improved weather in April.

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