Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Terning Point

It is quickly becoming obvious I am going to have to change the way I have been birding, especially now that it is fall migration and breeding birds are no longer singing or on territory. All summer I've been spoiled. I was able to simply go to an area where a target bird was nesting and, more often than not, I could find them. Now, that strategy isn't working.

With that in mind, I have been birding a lot the past few days. I had four targets that would have been nice, two of which I thought I had a decent shot at. The targets were Common Tern, Philadelphia Vireo, Connecticut Warbler and Black-billed Cuckoo. The first two on the list were birds I thought I could turn up. My hope was that with the violent storm that came in from the west, mixed with a cold front dropping temps nearly 20 degrees, Wisconsin Point might be dripping with migrants.

So, on 8/31 I left St. Paul very early. First stop was Mille Lacs Lake, one of four places in the state that Common Terns nest. After scouring every possible vantage point of the lake on the east side, I finally got on some Common Terns. They were pretty distant so I resorted to digiscoping.

Common Tern
After slaying my first target, I moved to Wisconsin Point. Because I had already enjoyed the Jaeger show that continues there (5+ Parasitics), I decided to look for passerines. It was really hot but I was able to find a few scattered migrant flocks that held 14 species of warblers. I then moved to Park Point where I picked up another two species of warbler, but not much else. I did some lakewatching in the evening and saw at least two distant Jaegers... and then the storm rolled in!

My friend Skye and I then caught up, got some dinner, and hung out with Erik Bruhnke.

Today, we birded Wisconsin Point bright and early. We started lakewatching and had a Franklin's Gull come in close. Hearing the warbler call notes from the woods behind us, I couldn't help it and had to go passerine birding again. Were there Connecticut Warblers and Philadelphia Vireos to be had?

The woods weren't as birdy as I had hoped. There was certainly no fallout. I kept bumping into small migrant flocks when an interesting warbler popped up. I got a good look, and some pictures, and finally concluded it is a Mourning Warbler with a pretty bold (but still broken) eye ring.

Not a Connecticut Warbler
I have one more day before I start fall classes. Tomorrow, I'll spend the morning birding just outside the cities. There has to be a Philadelphia Vireo around here somewhere!

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