2022-05-17 Two Days in Cody Wyoming

Green-Winged Teal - Anas carolinensis
During my two-day stay in Cody Wyoming, I paid two visits to nearby Alkali Lake and enjoyed the waterfowl, shorebirds, and gulls I met there.
Marsh Wren - Cistothorus palustris
When I said my goodbyes to Cody, I drove north and stopped by at Ralston Reservoir. There were several species of new migrant arrivals that were setting up nesting territories.

I spent my first night in Cody at the Walmart parking lot. I’d been having difficulty getting clear focus in my camera when taking long shots of large mammals. Modern dSLR cameras can be calibrated to compensate for accurate focusing on various lenses. I’ve only been using the Nikon D850 since beginning this trip last February. While it seemed to work well for the birds I like to shoot, the fur on the larger mammalian subjects doesn’t have as much contrasting lines as the birds do, and so the focus algorithms aren’t as reliable for getting the best results. I set up a target and shot a long series of test-shots. I found a setting that seemed to deliver the best results, and now I seem to get more “keeper” shots.

Near Cody’s southeastern boundary, and near their airport is a low plain hosting several lakes. One of these is called Alkali Lake, for the obvious reason of its high mineral content. Of all the water bodies in the basin, this one was preferred by the widest array of bird-life. I saw phalaropes and other shorebirds, alongside waterfowl and gulls. I spent an afternoon there and returned the next morning to enjoy them again.

When I finished with my afternoon visit with the birds, I drove back to town and spotted a Verizon store. My old faithful cell phone had been shutting down prematurely for the past week, and I suspected the battery was failing. The best option for getting past the issue was to replace the device with a new phone. Finding someone to replace the battery seemed unlikely here, and an upgraded device seemed to be my best option.

The gals in the Verizon store were very helpful and made the experience of transferring all my apps and data an easy ride. Setting up my new phone and learning where to find all the new features is a tedious endeavor. I use several specialty applications, each requiring their own permissions and access to data and to features in the phone. I spent the entire rest of the day parked next to the Verizon store, making repeated visits inside for help from the girls who worked there, and overcoming problems I had trouble solving on my own.

I spent the night parked in the Verizon store’s parking lot, then I drove to the nearby Granny’s Cafe for another fine breakfast. Then I ventured out to Alkali Lake for an early morning visit with the birds. Had I waited a few more weeks before I showed up, the timing of my visit to this region would have been better for meeting many of the birds that find their way here. But in the back of my mind, I held hope of pushing my way into Canada to revisit the far north, and the birds that only nest in that region. I had to choose, and I chose to be early for the northern tier of the Lower Forty-Eight, so I might be on time for the birds on the road ahead.

I chose a road out of Cody that leads north past a noted birding location called Ralston Reservoir, 19 miles away. I arrived mid-morning and had the place to myself; just me and the birds. Some of the singers I met were no doubt recent arrivals. I count among these as the Yellow Warbler, the Marsh Wren and the House Wren. Yellow-Headed and Red-Winged Blackbirds probably hadn’t been here long either.

After enjoying the birds for a few hours, I realized I still had a mountain of blog-work to catch up with. My parking place here was remote and quiet, so I decided to settle in and spend the night right there. My next day’s adventure would carry me north into Montana and through the small town of Bridger, where I spent a Fall-Winter-Spring season in 1969-70. I was curious about how it may have changed.

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