Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Minnesota in Winter

Great Gray Owl
Photo: Shari Zirlin
Mike Mandracchia organized a group of Jersey and Philly birders to take a trip to what turned out to be only the semi-frozen north of Duluth, Minnesota, led by his friend Kim Risen of Naturescape Tours.

Since I hate traveling, hate winter, hate the cold and hate the wind, I had more than a few qualms about taking this trip, but the prospect of 11 potential life birds, a couple of which I knew I had absolutely no chance of scoring in the east, overrode my trepidation.

Whatever you're worrying about usually doesn't happen, so since I was worried about everything, it all worked out fine. The weather, while cold, wasn't any colder than it can get in NJ and the winds, for the most part were mild. The coldest day we had started out at about 5 degrees and warmed up all the way to 20. The other days started in the 20's and warmed up past the freezing mark.
If my coat is open, it can't be that cold. 
You can't rack up huge numbers of species in Northern Minnesota--St Louis County, for the year, has recorded about 65 species so far. Contrast that to Ocean County where I already have 79 species and the total number of species in the county is well over 100. But, we weren't going for quantity; we wanted birds that you just don't see in the mid-Atlantic region like Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, and the owls. I was hoping for two species of woodpeckers but got shut out on those. Two species of grouse were also no-shows. But of the 11 target birds we got 7 and I think that's a pretty good percentage.

We made a couple of brief forays into Wisconsin, spent some time looking at gulls on the Duluth waterfront, ran up to Superior National Forest for half a day, but spent most of time birding the legendary Sax-Zim Bog.

Individual reports can be found here:
Duluth--Canal Park 1/15--Common Goldeneye, THAYER'S GULL, Glaucous Gull
Jean Duluth Road 1/16--NORTHERN HAWK OWL
Sax-Zim Bog 1/17--Purple Finch, Evening Grosbeak
Duluth--Canal Park 1/17--Iceland Gull
W Knife River Rd 1/18--Bohemian Waxwing, HOARY RED...
Sax-Zim Bog 1/18--GREAT GRAY OWL

Our complete list for the trip: Underline=Rare; Bold Italics=FOY; ALL CAPS BOLD=Life Bird
Species                                    First Sighting
American Black Duck     Duluth--Canal Park   
Mallard     Duluth--Canal Park   
Northern Pintail     Duluth--Canal Park   
Common Eider     Duluth--Canal Park   
Common Goldeneye     Duluth--Canal Park   
Ruffed Grouse     Highway 7, St Louis County   
Bald Eagle     Hwy 53, MM14   
Rough-legged Hawk     Sax-Zim Bog   
Herring Gull     Duluth--Canal Park   
THAYER'S GULL     Duluth--Canal Park   
Iceland Gull     Duluth--Canal Park   
Glaucous Gull     Duluth--Canal Park   
Rock Pigeon     East Duluth   
Snowy Owl    Richard Bong Airport
NORTHERN HAWK OWL     Duluth--Jean Duluth Rd   
GREAT GRAY OWL     Sax-Zim Bog   
Downy Woodpecker     Sax-Zim Bog   
Hairy Woodpecker     Sax-Zim Bog   
Pileated Woodpecker     Old Vermillion Trail   
Northern Shrike     Sax-Zim Bog   
GRAY JAY     Sax-Zim Bog   
Blue Jay     Highway 7, St Louis County   
Black-billed Magpie     Sax-Zim Bog   
American Crow     Duluth--Jean Duluth Rd   
Common Raven     Duluth--Jean Duluth Rd   
Black-capped Chickadee     Old Vermillion Trail   
Red-breasted Nuthatch     Old Vermillion Trail   
White-breasted Nuthatch     Highway 7, St Louis County   
Bohemian Waxwing     1740 W Knife River Road   
Snow Bunting     Highway 7, St Louis County   
PINE GROSBEAK     Sax-Zim Bog   
Purple Finch     Sax-Zim Bog   
Common Redpoll     Old Vermillion Trail   
HOARY REDPOLL     1740 W Knife River Road   
Pine Siskin     Old Vermillion Trail   
Evening Grosbeak     Sax-Zim Bog    

1 comment:

  1. Ahhh ... birds I saw during my hiking days 40 years ago .... the hawk owl was one of the most thriling birds I ever found.