Friday, October 26, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
The main reason I signed up for this trip was to see the Sandhill Cranes. Several thousand of them use a field in Crex as a staging area on their migration south. Every evening in the fall the cranes come from about a fifty mile radius to this field to spend the night. To say it was a remarkable sight would be a gross understatement.
If I scanned the tree line with my binoculars I could see lines of the sandhills flying in from all directions.
Sandhill cranes stay in family groups throughout their migration. As they flew in they were constantly calling to each other. The sound was musical- a combination of yodeling, trumpeting, and trilling.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
I drank it all in, like a tonic.
I couldn't take my eyes off the ever-changing sky.
Were there birds?
Friday, October 19, 2007
I have a hard time telling females from immature purple finches. Is that a fox sparrow watching from above? There were many fox sparrows in the thickets- they were reluctant to come into the clearing.
A new lifer for me!! Pine siskins! I've had glimpses of pine siskins before but this day I got to watch them up close for quite a while.
A purple finch and two pine siskins on the feeder gave me a chance to compare their sizes and bill shapes.
In among the many juncos was this lones sparrow. My first thought was that this is a chipping sparrow but it didn't seem small enough compared to the juncos.
It doesn't seem to have the dark eye-line.The beak is pinkish and it has a white eye-ring.
Field sparrow? Am I off the mark?
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
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!
Monday, October 08, 2007
Mike is an awesome birder and was terrific in calling out everything he saw. I'm quite sure I was the least experienced birder of the bunch and I really appreciated that Mike and the other better birders would call out birds that were probably "old news" to them.
Everyone in the group was asked to bring popcorn which Mike would toss into the water "chumming" to attract gulls.
You can see I was drenched from about mid-thigh on down. That, combined with strong winds and temps in the low 50's made for a chilly morning. But I'm not complaining. I saw :
White-winged Scoter (lifer!)
Caspian Tern (lifer! and a beautiful look)
American Black Duck (lifer!)
Belted Kingfisher -one of the best looks I've ever had
That was an exciting trip and I'd love to go again. If you're interested, check out Mike's webpage for his spring and fall Lake Superior boat trips and if you have time, stop over at Mike's blog Colder by the Lake Birding and read his hilarious account of this trip.
But wait! The day's not over yet. After Deb and I got a hot lunch in a warm restaurant where our pants and feet could dry, we headed out to Park Point and we saw...
Thursday, October 04, 2007
After we left Hawk Ridge we headed down to Park Pointe to look about. Someone spotted a plover and Sharon got her scope out to get a better look.
We narrowed it down to either a Black-bellied or American Golden-Plover in winter plumage. Stan saw it take flight and noted the black "armpits" which made it a Black-bellied Plover! A lifer for me!
That wraps up my 50th birthday birding weekend. I'll leave you with one more look at those red-tailed hawk feet.
A rabbit nightmare!
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Isn't she gorgeous?!
I caught her nictitating membrane in this shot.
Click to enlarge and check out those feet.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Here's the view from inside the blind. It is set up on the edge of a large hay field. I was lucky to be inside when a sharpie flew into the nets. They had caught and banded two sharpies before we arrived. It was a terrific learning experience to be able to see these birds up close and have them described in such detail.
Here Sharon is holding the adult male for closer inspection. She let us all have a sniff of the sharpie. I thought it smelled like warm, brown grass- clean and outdoorsy.
Then Sharon did the sweetest thing- she handed the sharpie to ME! I couldn't have asked for a better gift. Thank you, thank you Sharon!
Now, people who know me know that when I'm really happy my eyes disappear behind little slits. You can barely make out my pupils in this picture that Sharon took.
( does Photoshop have a tool to remove double chins?)
I was thrilled! They have a lottery to choose visitors to release the banded birds. Don't those ladies look excited? Frank is giving them directions to count to five and then gently let them go while Sharon is lying on the cold, wet ground to photograph the release from the best angle.
The day isn't over yet...