2022-05-18 Lovell WY to Bridger MT

Common Grackle - Quiscalus quiscula
A few miles north of Bridger Montana, I found a rest area where I found my second location of the day to meet Common Grackles.

In my last episode, I told of leaving Cody on Tuesday, the seventeenth, and driving a few miles north to Ralston Reservoir, where I found birds to enjoy and a place to park for the night. Wednesday morning I drove north through the rural farmlands and micro-towns, reaching Lovell Wyoming, where I found a small cafe for breakfast. After my meal, I drove just southeast of town to a couple of water-bodies called Lovell Lakes. It was there that I met my first Common Grackles as they shared the marshy borders of the lakes with Red-Winged and Yellow-Headed Blackbirds.

These birds seemed neither as big nor boisterous as the Great-Tailed Grackles I’ve had most of my ‘grackle’ experiences with. Yet they employed many of the same postures, shared some of the same mannerisms, and had the same “V” shaped tail. Being early spring, all the grackles and blackbirds were highly focused on getting dates with the neighborhood girls. I enjoyed their antics.

When I finished with the birds at Lovell Lakes, I continued my journey north, passing through the community of Frannie Wyoming, at the border with Montana. Only a few miles into Montana, I passed a small swampy pond with a large bird in the middle sitting on a nest. It was a Sandhill Crane. I stopped long enough to take a few pictures of the sitting bird. I could hardly believe my good fortune. I never thought I’d ever meet a nesting crane.

Less than 30 miles north of the border of Wyoming is the tiny town of Bridger Montana. When I first entertained the idea of this expedition, I looked at the map and thought it would be fun to pass through this town. During the Fall-Winter-Spring of 1969-70, I lived there while working on a crew building pole barns across southern Montana and northern Wyoming. Being a kid from sunny southern California, it was a huge cultural change, and I have the fondest of memories about the places and the people I met during this time. As one would expect, the town was still small, but the changes it has gone through over the past 50 plus years, rendered it unrecognizable to me.

I located a rest area on the map, less than three miles north of Bridger. And thought I’d pull in and spend time catching up with the ever-present blogs about my journey. But when I arrived there, I found it was closed for repairs. I spoke with the workmen as they were leaving to gather more tools, and they said it would be OK if I parked just outside the locked gate. As I settled in to zero in on the job of image-processing and yarn-spinning, I saw more grackles cavorting in the trees and on the grass below. Of course I had to switch to Plan B and gather more images, which is a lot more fun, anyway.

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