2022-05-21 Saturday in Lewistown Montana

Clay-Colored Sparrow - Spizella pallida
The snow and frozen rain made traveling hazardous, so I found a large empty lot to park on the outskirts of Lewistown Montana. I planned to work on my blogs, but when I noticed four species of sparrows and other birds nearby, I had to grab my camera.

Friday’s foul weather convinced me to find somewhere in Lewiston to settle in for the day. I found a large, unused parking area north of town, between the fairgrounds and a stockyard to settle in. The wet snow created a bit of a muddy mess there, but not so much as to set a trap for my RV. I parked near the back of the lot. Should any truck-and-trailer operators need to maneuver, I would not be in their way. No one else entered the area while I stayed.

My plan was to hunker down and catch up with the backlog of stories I’d been accumulating, but the universe dangled a temptation in front of me. Just outside the van, I could see birds feeding in the low weeds at the margins of the lot where I parked. Several sparrow species I’d not seen on this trip were among them. Like a child presented with a shiny new toy, I could not resist interacting with them. So, out came the camera, and deeper into the work-pit I dug myself.

When I finally stopped taking pictures, I’d met four species of sparrow (Vesper, Chipping, Clay-Colored, and Savannah). Additionally, there was a Swainson’s Thrush, a Ring-Necked Pheasant, a small flock of randy Brown-Headed Cowbirds, and magpies. Black-Billed Magpies seem to be a constant in this region. You can’t drive very far on the rural roads here without seeing their flashing black and white wings fluttering at the roadside.

My decision to forgo travel Saturday seems to have been a good one. Sunday’s sun peeked through the clouds and the high plains ahead were covered in white. Driving through Saturday’s storm would have been white-knuckle hell.

As of this writing, my plan is to drive north out of Lewiston and into the Missouri Breaks, where there is a camp site I hope to stop at. From there, the road I expect to follow will take me north and then west to Havre and beyond. Crossing over into Canada at the north end of the I-15 seems like a good bet.

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