Thursday, October 11, 2007

After the Boat Ride From Hell

Since Deb and I were still soaked and chilly from the pelagic, we decided to duck in to a restaurant for a hot lunch. Neither of us had to get right back to our families so we decided to drive along Park Point to see what there was to see. Not far along we spotted a group from our trip with binoculars and spotting scopes focused on this group of water birds. (that's what you call easy birding- looking for other birders!) We got our field guides out to id what we were looking at. Thank you to all the other birders who were happy to point out and help id the birds in this group. there were:
Redhead- lifer
Greater Scaup- lifer
Surf Scoter- lifer
Black Scoter- lifer
Common Goldeneye
Common Merganser
Horned Grebe- lifer
Red-necked Grebe- lifer
Can you tell I don't know water birds? It's easy to get lifers when the majority of your birding is in your backyard. And note, not all of these birds are in this picture. We saw more water birds along the harbor side at another stop. Kim Eckert, a noteworthy Minnesota birder id'd a Barrow's Goldeneye but my inexperienced eyes couldn't see the difference between the Barrow's and Common Goldeneye so I won't count it.

After birding the harbor side Deb and I decided to check out the beach house on the lake side. It's a good spot for scanning for rare gulls and shorebirds.

Thank you to Mike Hendrickson for the help in identifying these Sanderlings and Dunlins. I am painfully inexperienced in identifying shorebirds- and even worse than shorebirds are GULLS. When we got to the lake side Deb and I ran into Mike and a couple of other birders. The group was thrilled to see this rare Sabine's Gull.
We watched as it snuggled into a footstep in the sand to rest. Later we got a good look at the gull in flight and Mike pointed out the distinctive black, white and gray upper wing pattern. Beautiful.
We stayed on the lake side, scanning and chatting birds with Mike for a while. He's a nice guy and he REALLY knows his birds. Mike has a bird guiding business for northeastern Minnesota. Check out his website. He's been working hard putting together a new winter birding festival in the Sax-Zim bog area for this coming February. Sax-Zim if well-known for winter boreal species. I've been there a few times and it's an amazing place. Thanks to Mike for all of his help on this remarkable day of birding.
The power of the waves and the constant high wind was hypnotic- and exhausting.
Deb and I called it quits and started back, driving into the thickest fog I'd ever seen. When we got back to her car, sweet Deb gave me a bottle of Malibu Rum! When I got home to Hasty Brook, Art and I each had a big glass (tumbler!) of orange juice with a liberal slosh of Malibu to fight off the chill. All in the interest of good health!


Linda said...

I find that many birds all kind of look alike until someone points out the differences. Once they do that, you can spot them easily from then on. That's why I love these birding blogs. That's why going with someone experienced would be so great. I'm hoping to get into a birding group at some point in the future. I sure wish I lived closer but I'm sure there are good groups around here, too.

Deb said...

Glad you enjoyed the Malibu! :)

Your title made me laugh out loud. I've been on many boat rides, mostly in smaller boats, but I think I came nearest to death on this one!

I just love your wave pictures; I didn't really have a good angle on the ones I took. And the one of the flock of shorebirds is nice too!

I don't know if I commented before, but I drove down Highway 23 on the way home, and didn't get out of the fog until just north of Bruno, about 6 miles from home. It was sunny and ten degrees warmer there!

Lynne, you are so fun to go birding with, and I think we'd have a great time even if we were not birding. I'm so glad you want to do my county Christmas Bird Count this year--it'll be a blast!

mon@rch said...

Wow, so many great birds and congrats on the many lifers that you ended up finding! You should be hooked now and get out more to find more lifers!

Susan Gets Native said...

Jeepers! Awesome trip!
I think Sabine's are the prettiest of the gulls.
Nestled into a footprint. That is so precious, I want to slap someone.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Lynne,
What great pictures! I actually said "cool!" to my monitor screen when I got to the photo of sanderlings and dunlins.

Thanks for the link to Mike Hendrickson's website. I'd definitely be interested in coming up for the winter birding festival if he gets that arranged.

I'm glad you and Deb had such a good time in spite of weather conditions.

Anonymous said...

Lynne & Deb:

I had a wonderful time meeting you both! The Sabine's Gull was a great find! For some reason the jaegers are being seen in good numbers east of us at Whitefish Point this fall season. We should of seen at least one that weekend.

The Winter Festival is pretty much wrap up. We got the brochures finalized for the MOU newsletterm I have to get stuff to the web designer so we can get the website announced amd all it looks like this festival is goingt obe a success and I will ask you guys soon about linking the website to your blogs.

I have a ton of ideas in my head for next year and yes I am stil thinking about workshops.

Have a wonderful day!!


Lynne said...

Linda- I love birding with more experienced birders. It's such a gteat way to learn.

Deb- I'm really lookinf forward to the CBC too!

Mon@rch- I sure did get alot of lifers that day!

Susan- the Sabine's gull was gorgeous.

Ruthie- I'm pretty sure I'm scheduled to work the weekend of the Sax-Zim festival but maybe I could do some trading...
It's such an awesome place.

Mike- thanks for visiting my blog. I'm excited to see the Sax-Zim festival web page. I'll gladly link to it when it's ready. Thanks again for helping out on such an unforgetable day.

Mary said...


I'm so happy for you. Like you, shorebirds are foreign to me. You must have been in bird heaven to see so many lifers in one day!

Great stories from a wonderful weekend. After a cold and exhausting day, that bottle of Rum really hit the spot, didn't it?

HellZiggy said...

Wow! You've just been a birding fiend lately haven't you? :) First the hawks, then the lake birds, and now the sandhill cranes next weekend! I'm so excited about going to see them. If you wanna carpool I'll drive this time.

~other Sharon

Mary C said...

Congrats on your lifers, Lynne! Nasty weather, but a fun time with fun birding friends. Can't get much better than that. I think most of us seem to struggle over identifying most shorebirds - but the more we do it, the more it gets easier to ID them. :o) You'll have a great time with lots of experts at Cape May.

Q said...

Dear Lynne,
I was chilled as I rode "hold on to the table" with you in the boat. Brr...Well worth the wet and the cold! You saw many birds that would be lifers for me too.
Going out with other birders must be very fun and exciting.
I am looking forward to your next bird adventure.

Susan said...

those would all be lifers for me too!

Larry said...

I had an experience last winter when an experienced birder led me on a tour that brought me a buch of lifer waterbirds.-Glad to hear that some nice birders helped you out.