I had finally had enough sitting at my computer this week and used a couple hours of comp time to get out and go birding. We have had a fair amount of rain and snow over the last few days and with the soils around here I am unable to get anywhere close to a sage-grouse lek without tearing up the roads pretty bad (if I could get there at all). Not a neighborly thing to do. Being stuck in the office isn't so bad when it is 2o below and the wind is blowing but when field season comes around and I am really looking forward to getting out and this happens it makes it even worse to sit at my desk.
I took some back roads to get home from work and about half way home found my Dad coming down the same road so I pulled over and waited for him to catch up. As we visited a bit I noticed a Short-eared Owl foraging over a nearby CRP field. We sat and watched him for a while and pretty soon noticed that there were at least 4 more individuals in the area and possibly 6 more. We watched them foraging over the field with their necks stuck out and faces pointing down when things looked interesting below them. There were also a number of aggressive interactions between the owls and we watched one wing clap display. Dad and I had a good visit sitting there in the middle of the road watching the birds flying back and forth. There were a number of Red-tailed Hawks of all morphs stacked up in the area waiting to head north along with large flocks of American Robins. It is a bit depressing hearing of the migrants to the east and west of us - White-throated Swift this week and a few species of swallows west of us and Yellow-rumped Warblers in North Dakota. Nothing that eats insects here yet, which is probably good considering what has happened to a number of insect eating birds in the mid-west with the arrival of this blast of cold weather. See here.