Sunday, January 10, 2016

Northern MN Birding: Part 2

After our successful search for the Northern Hawk Owl on January 3rd we were in great moods having added a few lifers and freeing up an extra day to spend in the Duluth area.

Day 2: January 4th  

Taking photos is not the time to figure out a new lens. As
requested no photo of Shawn Z is online, magically removed. 
We had returned to Staples and my parents for a bed on the 3rd and departed on the 4th for Duluth/Superior in search of the Ivory Gull and Gyrfalcon. Our first stop at Conner's Point in Superior was unsuccessful, but the immature Ivory Gull was hanging out at Canal Park when we arrived. It sat on the break wall for most of our visit as we studied Black Ducks, searched other gulls for something interesting, and talked with a others. After a short while the Ivory Gull flew closer to the observers and ate the salmon offerings. Many grabbed their camera and started taking photos, myself included.

Ivory Gull

After the short photo op we tried again unsuccessfully for the Gyrfalcon at Conner's Point and continued on to the Superior Landfill. Although the sun was out and the temperature was near 30 degrees Jack was a bit chilled and I convinced him to put on additional cold-weather northern clothing. He loved the Ice King boots and threatened to keep them on forever. Personally I am glad to see they are once again available for purchase.

With warmer clothes we were able to scan the Landfill for gulls and picked out Glaucous Gulls, Thayer's Gulls, and an adult Iceland Gull. The Iceland Gull is one I have been searching for over the past five winters and tickled me silly with joy as this lifer (#427) gave us good views in binoculars soaring over our heads in great light. Leaving the Landfill we also came across one of our few mammals on the trip, a porcupine that was a bit camera shy for Terry.

Jan 4th was spent driving around the twin ports area.
With gulls in hand we searched berry trees for Grosbeaks and Bohemian Waxwings. While we did get better views of Pine Grosbeaks we were unsuccessful in our search for Bohemian Waxwings and decided to check for the overwintering Golden-Crowned Sparrow. As was the case with the Waxwings this bird avoided us.

Clinton finished work mid afternoon and we planned to meet him at Conner's Point in search for the Gyrfalcon again. While on the phone he calmly stated, "It just flew in" and we jubilantly arrived in time to see it in the scope. For the second day in a row the target bird was seen late afternoon, a lifer for the three of us and my second of the day (#428)!

With the remaining light we searched Superior for Snowy Owls, finding one and a couple of Ruffed Grouse for Terry. While we dipped on Waxwings and the golden-crowned Sparrow we did see both target birds for the day and picked up most of Jack's gull wishlist. I survived my two days as the guide and was looking forward to having Clinton take over. I made many wrong turns but lucky we found birds. We ended the day at Applebee's with shortened wish lists and planned the next two days together.

The search for Boreal Chickadees and Spruce Grouse will wait for the next blog post.  

Day 2 Recap of Wish List
Pine Grosbeak (Seen again but added the first day)
Ruffed Grouse (Terry)
Gyrfalcon (Jack and Terry)
Thayer's Gull (Jack)
Iceland Gull (Jack)
Glaucous-winged Gull (Jack)
Ivory Gull (Not on the initial Wish List but added for Jack's life list)

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