Reports

North Shore Sea Duck Trip
with Clinton Nienhaus

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Duluth Audubon has recently added a now staple trip to the late season field trip season: the North Shore Sea Duck Trip! This is the third year of the trip and each year we have succeeded in finding our targeted species: Sea Ducks! The sea ducks include diving ducks that are not seen regular in the US outside of the Great Lakes and the East and West coasts. The ducks include the eiders, scoters, Long-tailed, and Harlequin ducks. This trip, we were able to find a total of 6 White-winged Scoters and numerous Long-tailed Ducks. Other sea ducks did elude us, but we were able to add a couple of rarer species to the trip, including Townsend’s Solitaire (in two locations!), Rusty Blackbird (a bit on the late side), Western Meadowlark (annual in the fall, but still uncommon), and a pair of late Yellow-rumped Warblers. This long day trip, starting in Duluth and ending in Grand Marais was attended by a total of 8 folks, an average showing. Fun was had by all on a beautiful day for a drive up the North Shore! Below is the species list from the trip. – Clinton Nienhaus, Secretary and Field Trip Committee Chair

Canada Goose
Mallard
Lesser Scaup
White-winged Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Bufflehead
Common Goldeneye
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Common Loon
Horned Grebe
Bald Eagle
Rough-legged Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Iceland (Thayer’s) Gull*
Rock Pigeon
European Starling
Bohemian Waxwing
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
American Crow
Common Raven
Blue Jay
Townsend’s Solitaire**
American Robin
Yellow-rumped Warbler*
Dark-eyed Junco
Western Meadowlark**
Rusty Blackbird*
Pine Grosbeak
Common Redpoll
Red Crossbill*

Birding the Tundra of Manitoba: Churchill-Arctic Wildlife Mecca or Last Frontier on its Last Gasp? with Sparky Stensaas

November 9, 2017
Churchill, Manitoba on Hudson Bay is famous for its Polar Bears and Beluga Whales, but did you know this was once a birding Mecca?

Though the Ross’s Gull no longer nests here, it is still an amazing place for birding and bird photography.  As the most accessible tundra to Minnesota, it is home to Willow Ptarmigan, Pacific Loon, Common Eider, Arctic Hare, dwarf wildflowers and many other fascinating critters. And have you ever wanted to see Blackpoll Warblers and Hoary Redpolls singing on their breeding grounds? How about shorebirds and gulls in trees! Sparky showed some of his favorite photos of the tundra birds and even a short HD video of the Churchill wildlife and landscape.

Superior Harbor Gull Watch
with Clinton Nienhaus

Weeks 1 and 2, 2017:   This year marks the second season of Superior Entry Gull Watches, led by Clinton Nienhaus, at Superior Entry on Wisconsin Point. Gulls are a great group of birds, but often cause ID problems for many birders. Theses watches were started with the intention to teach and learn more about gulls through our observations! During weeks 1 and 2, we have had 13 total attendees and have been pleasantly surprised with great looks at lots of birds! Most exciting have been the sightings of Lesser Black-backed gull. This species is typically an early fall visitor to the area and we rarely see them outside of the month of September. During week 1, we had two individual first cycle birds, one of which continued into week 2. Other gulls that have given us some great learning opportunities have been the good number of Iceland (Thayer’s) gulls that have been seen. Week 1 had 13 individuals, representing all age classes and week 2 had 11 individuals represent all but one age class. These birds have been fun to see in comparison to the numerous Herring Gulls. We have also have been pleasantly surprised with observations of species we have not observed before at the Gull Watches, including Red Crossbill, Northern Goshawk, and a mega surprise flyover by a Short-eared Owl! Below is a summary of the species observed during week 1 and 2. The * denotes uncommon or rare species.  – Clinton Nienhaus, Secretary and Field Trip Committee Chair

Week 1
Canada Goose
Common Goldeneye
Red-breasted Merganser
Northern Goshawk*
Bald Eagle
Rough-legged Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Iceland (Thayer’s) Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull*
Glaucous Gull
American Crow
Common Redpoll

Week 2
Common Goldeneye
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Iceland (Thayer’s) Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull*
Glaucous Gull
Short-eared Owl**
American Crow
Snow Bunting
Common Redpoll
Red Crossbill*

Weeks 3 and 4, 2017:  What a difference from Weeks 1 and 2! The last two gull watches were quite different: Week 3 had only about 225 gulls present and most of which arrived about 25 minutes into our watch! However, there were some great birds to be seen. One of the two Lesser Black-backed Gulls continued into its third week of gull watches and we got wonderful looks at a gorgeous adult Glaucous Gull! Also interesting from Week 3’s observations was that no adult Iceland (Thayer’s) Gulls were seen, in comparison to adults making up the majority of the observations of Iceland (Thayer’s) Gulls in prior weeks. We also had an amazing and puzzling bird: a dark-eyed Herring Gull. Dark-eyed American Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus smithsonianus) have been very rarely documented with dark eyes, unlike their counter part European Herring Gulls (L. a. argentatus) which are frequently documented with dark eyes.

Week 4 saw about 500 total gulls, which seems large, but was nearly half as many as there were the previous day: gulls can be fickle! Most exciting this week were two Glaucous Gulls, including a different first cycle from the first week and the adult from Week 3. We also were treated with a group of Red Crossbills and pleasant gull watching weather for the end of November. A full species report for Weeks 3 and 4 follow this report. The * denotes uncommon or rare species for the date.

In total, this season saw 24 total attendees to the DAS Superior Entry Gull Watches! We observed a total of 5 species of gull. Out of the expected species for this location and season, we only missed one expected species: Great Black-backed Gull. There have been very few Great Black-backed Gulls around the Twin Ports this season, with only 2 or 3 individuals reported so far this year. We also saw a total of 23 species through our visits though we didn’t hit the greatest diversity of gulls, we certainly were able to take extra time to learn about the gulls that were present. Learning was the intention of these trips and from attendees coming back from one week to the next, that learning was further solidified.

If you are interested in learning gulls, the Twin Ports is a great area to spend some time! One further consideration to make, is that during our Bird ID 201 Workshop, we will take two days to consider the finer points of Gull ID!

Thank you to those who came out to enjoy gulls during the 2017 Superior Entry Gull Watches! We will see you next year!”

Week 3
Mallard
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Bufflehead
Common goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Bald Eagle
Herring Gull
Iceland (Thayer’s) Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull**
Glaucous Gull
American Crow
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Week 4
Common Goldeneye
Common Merganser
Bald Eagle
Ring-billed Gull*
Herring Gull
Iceland *Thayer’s) Gull
Glaucous Gull
American Crow
Common Raven
Common Redpoll
Red Crossbill

Birding Big Day at Boulder Lake ELC

May 15, 2017

Good day, good turnout and 74 species identified.

Spring Warbler Walks With Laura Erickson!

Spring, 2016

Tuesdays starting April 4 through May 30, 2016 at 7:00 a.m. at the parking lot at the northern trailhead of the Willard Munger Trail behind the Willard Munger Inn on Grand Avenue (Hwy 23) and 75th Avenue West.

Thursdays starting April 6 through May 25, at 7:00 a.m. at the parking lot at the Park Point Recreation Center (by the large building) on Park Point.