Saturday, September 28, 2013
Autumn begins - NW Wisconsin & N. Minnesota
Having said "Good Bye" to friends in NE Wisconsin, we drove west stopping for the night in Buena Vista where evening birds heralded this beautiful sunset. We then headed north and found a state park we had never visited before - Brunet Island near Cornell on the Chippewa River.
These Trumpeter Swans can be heard calling over the marshlands of Crex Meadows in Western Wisconsin. Mix in the bugling of hundreds of Sandhill Cranes descending into the refuge and it made a symphony of sound.
Palm Warblers were migrating in great numbers in many of the places we stopped: Stone Bridge, Pattison State Park, and the Gordon Wildlife Area where we also found 3 Sharp-tailed Grouse.
Our last state destination was Wisconsin Point which juts out into Lake Superior. Over the years this has been one of our favorite birding hot spots.
Thousands of Ring-billed and Herring Gulls feed in this bay, and this is what brings in the Jaegers from the Arctic as they migrate south.
This spectacular sunrise set the stage for a week long, 10 hour day, jaeger vigil.
This Parasitic Jaeger (one of seven) is exhibiting it's notorious behavior of intimidating the gulls into regurgitating their full crops of food providing a stolen meal. Another rare treat was three Long-tailed Jaegers that made fly-bys several times.
Every day birders came to the Point to see the fantastic show. Over 100 people joined the Wisconsin Society of Ornithology's field trip dubbed "Jaegerfest". It was a fun time seeing both birds and birders.
This Bald Eagle also became part of the bird pageantry stirring up hundreds of gulls from the lake. Our "Point" list was well over 100 species - the best being: Sabine's, Franklin's, and Lesser Black-backed Gulls; Black & Surf Scoters; Western, Red-necked and Horned Grebes; Common & Red-throated Loons; Merlins and 17 species of warblers.
We crossed the St. Louis River to Duluth and made a stop at Hawk Ridge. The weather was "too beautiful" for hawk migration but we enjoyed the view from high above.
We drove north to Sax-Zim Bog and spent the night on a deserted road where early morning mist enveloped this handsome bull moose.
On the way northwest to our next Boreal destination, we found a pair of Black-billed Magpies.
Happily we also added Boreal Chickadees, Gray Jays, a Black-backed Woodpecker, Spruce Grouse and Rusty Blackbirds at Pine Island State Forest.
We drove to Red Lake State Recreation Area and Campground where we walked the trails and Ty climbed the 100+ foot fire tower. On his way down he came eye to eye with this Red-breasted Nuthatch.
This area is part of the 1.3 million acre Big Bog where we walked the 1 mile boardwalk into the Tamarack and Black Spruce habitat with it's complement of unique bog plants.
We concluded our N. Minnesota adventure with a stop at the Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge north of Thief River Falls. Here we found a wonderful variety of waterfowl, adding several to our year list which now stands at 357.
As we left the refuge, the sunbeams rained through the clouds like a waterfall. It reminded us that God's light always shines through the darkness.
God's blessing to all,
Ty & Ida Baumann