Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Boreal Weekend

This past weekend I ventured into northern Minnesota, leaving very early on Saturday morning. I first stopped at the Sax-Zim bog. Battling snow squall after snow squall, I finally made it just after sunrise. Given the conditions, it was still overly dark. Almost immediately after getting into the bog, a Snow Bunting jumped up from in front of the car, landing back on the road. I got out and did what I could to photograph this bird in dismal conditions.

Snow Bunting
I continued down the road and it wasn't long before I ran into another of my targets; 2 Ruffed Grouse were feeding along the road. A quick look in my rear-view mirror revealed another car coming up behind me. I pulled over as quickly as I could scrambling to get a few shots off before the other car flushed the birds. Not cool...

Ruffed Grouse
These two were easy... easier than I anticipated. Feeling productive, I drove the roads again looking for Great Gray Owls. One had been reported in the area 9 days ago, but I couldn't find it.

After finishing the Sax-Zim Bog, I took a drive to Hawk Ridge. I made a quick stop at Page Pond, west of Hawk Ridge, to look for the Winter Wren that was reported from there on eBird. It only took me a matter of minutes before this Winter Wren came in to investigate some pishing.

Winter Wren
At Hawk Ridge, I saw one Northern Goshawk but failed to photograph it. I'll be going back soon for another try. I didn't stay long as I wanted to get further north. My destination was the Pagami Creek Burn near Isabella Lake.

On my way to the burn I had a Spruce Grouse fly right in front of me. I pulled over and started investigating the trees where it looked like it landed. I couldn't see it, but it started making some growling sounds at me and then flew off further into the boreal. Yet another bird I'll have to track down later.

Shortly after the Grouse incident, while driving on Tomahawk Road leading to the burn, I found this Northern Hawk Owl. It was content hunting from alongside the road and didn't mind me at all. Unfortunately, the light was tough and I couldn't get a great picture. This was the highlight of the trip, and it wasn't even a new photo bird for the year!

Northern Hawk Owl
I was able to poke around the burn for about an hour before dark. I found 3 Black-backed Woodpeckers but no American Three-toed Woodpeckers. I found a nice place to camp and called it a night.

On Sunday (10/20), I woke at sunrise and spent 3 hours in the burn. Again, I failed to find any American Three-toed Woodpeckers but came up with at least 7 Black-backed Woodpeckers and tons of sparrows.

It was getting time for me to make the long drive back to St. Paul, but I wanted to make one more stop at Wisconsin Point/ Superior Entry to look for the Thayer's Gulls that were being reported. Luckily I arrived just as another group of birders started throwing moldy bread to the gulls. It wasn't long before an adult Thayer's joined the crowd.

Thayer's Gull
Thayer's Gull
Shortly after the Thayer's excitement, a juvenile Sabine's Gull showed up. What a great way to end the weekend! When I see this bird on one of the Great Lakes, it is usually very distant and through a scope. This one almost came too close!

Sabine's Gull
This was an excellent weekend! I added 5 new photo birds for the year, missed a few that I will have to track down later, had some unexpected sightings and got to explore some new areas in the state.

1 comment:

  1. Super nice photograph of the winter wren - such a fast moving and sneaky little bird!