Tuesday, January 20, 2015

W Knife River Rd 1/18--Bohemian Waxwing, HOARY REDPOLL

Bohemian Waxwings
Photo: Shari Zirlin
We started the day very early, leaving the hotel at 6:15 for the long trip up to the Superior National Forest--pristine boreal forest. Not much has changed up there in 200 years. Unfortunately, there were no birds to speak of. A little of this and a little of that. The highlight for me was when 4 Pine Grosbeaks landed on the road and I was able to finally get the field guide looks at them that I hadn't had before. But there was nothing new for the trip. Lots of ravens.

Kim had also been taking us to places to look for Bohemian Waxwings, but couldn't track down a flock until Sunday afternoon on the way back from Two Harbors, where we had lunch. Waxwings move around a lot, finding a food source (buckhorn berries are popular right now), stripping the vegetation of the fruit and then moving on en masse. One of Kim's friends had told him he'd seen large numbers on his property, so we drove along the road his house is on and sure enough, a huge flock of about 300 BOWA (which is probably 30 times more waxwings than I've seen altogether) were rising and falling along the distant tree line at the back of his land. They finally swirled around close enough for us all to get good scope looks at them.

While we were all taking turns looking at the waxwings, there was some action behind us at the bird feeders. A few chickadees. Lots of Common Redpolls. And when Kim put his bins on them, finally, the elusive HOARY REDPOLL showed up. A great life bird to have for the trip. Especially to have the identification confirmed by an expert, because I don't see enough redpolls to have the confidence that one of them is different enough to be a another species. In the field guides the difference is obvious. In the field, not so much.

Only 5 species on this stop but 2 "quality" birds.
Common Raven  1
Black-capped Chickadee  5
Bohemian Waxwing  300     
Common Redpoll  10


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