Roy Zimmerman photos



Well, it seems that Jerry saw the face pattern, Jeff could see the spread tail was unbanded, this medium-brown falcon was larger than a kestrel…. So, naturally, after an hour or so of soul-searching, we concluded by default that the bird circling over the Wheaton sewage ponds on Friday had to be a Prairie Falcon! Of course, it was unfortunate that no one could tell for sure if it had black axillaries (which can be less than obvious on this species), and that only some of us saw it well enough to mull over and piece together its identity.


But even if you didn’t add this rarity to your list, there were other birds to count among the day’s highlights. The amazing North Ottawa impoundment hosted most of these, especially those two Snowy Egrets and what had to be a few thousand shorebirds – probably the most I’ve ever seen at one site in Minnesota – attracted to the two miles worth of mudflats. Most significant among these by far were no fewer than 60+ Hudsonian Godwits, which must have set some sort of record since just one is unusual enough during fall migration. In all, there were 15 shorebird species at N Ottawa to bring the day’s total to a respectable 18, and there were also Western, Red-necked, and Eared grebes here – all with babies (aw!).


The birding did slow down somewhat on the main Saturday-Sunday portion of the MBW, especially as the high winds blew in a cold front on Saturday afternoon and never let up. Both days recorded sustained winds of 20-33 mph with the highest gusts at 44, as we approached the all-time MBW record of 56 mph wind gusts. There were fewer highlights on these days, although on Saturday there was a nice assortment of woods birds in that farm grove along Big Stone CR 8, and that stone barn on the Stevens-Big Stone county line was a unique diversion. Surprisingly, though, Thielke Lake was almost empty, and the auto tour at Big Stone NWR was very disappointing.


Those who managed to brave the strong winds and cold on Sunday morning at the Morris sewage ponds were rewarded by unusually close views of 12 shorebird species concentrated in front of us in a relatively sheltered corner of the far pond. And we were able to find a SWELL spot out of the wind (i.e., Scandia Woods Environmental Learning Lab), where an unexpected gnatcatcher and several other passerines were sheltered. But this area and Saturday’s farm grove were the exceptions, as the passerine migration was very slow and we only came up with eight warbler species in three days. In all, we did come up with a composite total of 125 species: 111 on Friday’s pre-MBW, and a windy 101 on the main MBW.            


BIRD LIST


- pre-only = only found on Aug 21 Traverse-Grant pre-MBW (i.e., Stevens-Big Stone-

  Traverse-Grant Co’s) 


- MBW-only = only found on Aug 22-23 Stevens-Big Stone MBW (i.e., Stevens-Big Stone -

  Lac Qui Parle Co’s)


- species not annotated with pre- or MBW- were seen on both parts of the weekend


Canada Goose 

Wood Duck

Mallard

Blue-winged Teal (incl white-winged partial albino at Morris sewage ponds!)

Northern Shoveler

Northern Pintail (pre-only)

Green-winged Teal

Canvasback

Redhead

Hooded Merganser

Ruddy Duck

Ring-necked Pheasant

Wild Turkey (MBW-only)

Pied-billed Grebe

Red-necked Grebe (pre-only; with young at North Ottawa impoundment)

Eared Grebe (pre-only; also with N Ottawa young)

Western Grebe (pre-only; also with N Ottawa young)

Double-crested Cormorant

American White Pelican

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Snowy Egret (pre-only; 2 at N Ottawa!)

Green Heron

Turkey Vulture

Bald Eagle

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned/Cooper's Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Virginia Rail

Sora

American Coot

Black-bellied Plover (pre-only; N Ottawa)

Semipalmated Plover

Killdeer

Spotted Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper (pre-only)

Greater Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs

Hudsonian Godwit (pre-only; 60+ at N Ottawa!)

Stilt Sandpiper (almost everywhere; best views at Morris sewage ponds)

Sanderling (pre-only; N Ottawa)

Baird's Sandpiper (best at Morris)

Least Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Long-billed Dowitcher (juveniles at N Ottawa & Morris)

Wilson's Snipe

Wilson's Phalarope (pre-only; Graceville sewage ponds)

Red-necked Phalarope (best at Morris) 

Franklin's Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Black Tern

Forster's Tern (pre-only)

Rock Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Mourning Dove

Great Horned Owl (pre-only; near Mud Lake)

Common Nighthawk

Chimney Swift

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Red-bellied Woodpecker (pre-only)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (MBW-only)

Downy Woodpecker (MBW-only)

Hairy Woodpecker (MBW-only)

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker (MBW-only)

American Kestrel

Prairie Falcon (pre-only; Wheaton sewage ponds!)

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Alder/Willow Flycatcher (pre-only)

Least Flycatcher

Eastern Phoebe

Great Crested Flycatcher (MBW-only)

Western Kingbird (pre-only; Jerry-only)

Eastern Kingbird

Warbling Vireo

Philadelphia Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

Blue Jay

American Crow

Purple Martin

Tree Swallow

Bank Swallow

Cliff Swallow

Barn Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

White-breasted Nuthatch

House Wren

Sedge Wren

Marsh Wren (heard-only?)

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (MBW-only; a SWELL bird spotted by Linda)

Eastern Bluebird (pre-only)

American Robin

Gray Catbird

Brown Thrasher (pre-only)

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing

Northern Waterthrush (MBW-only)

Black-and-white Warbler

Tennessee Warbler (MBW-only)

Nashville Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

American Redstart

Yellow Warbler

Wilson's Warbler (MBW-only)

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow (pre-only)

Vesper Sparrow (pre-only)

Savannah Sparrow (pre-only)

Song Sparrow

Northern Cardinal (MBW-only; heard-only?)

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (MBW-only)

Bobolink (pre-only)

Red-winged Blackbird

Western Meadowlark

Yellow-headed Blackbird (good no's at many locations) 

Brewer's Blackbird (pre-only)

Common Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird (pre-only)

Orchard Oriole (MBW-only)

Baltimore Oriole

House Finch (MBW-only)

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow

Roy Zimmerman photo




*          *          *



STEVENS-GRANT-TRAVERSE-BIG STONE MBW SUMMARY

July 25 - 26 - 27, 2014


(....And we detoured a bit into Lac Qui Parle County along the Big Stone NWR auto tour.) But keeping track of the counties we visited didn't seem to matter as much as having the North Ottawa impoundment on our itinerary on both Friday and Sunday. Indeed, this weekend could just as well be renamed the North Ottawa MBW! 


With mudflats for shorebirds almost non-existent due to high water levels at practically all the wetlands, I was not optimistic about our prospects. But North Ottawa certainly came through for us on Friday's pre-MBW and produced no fewer than 17 shorebird species, highlighted by a few American Avocets, a couple of Marbled Godwits, close Stilt Sandpipers among some Short-billed Dowitchers, several Sanderlings, nice looks at Baird's Sandpipers, and a Buff-breasted Sandpiper standing in front of us on the road. And the day ended with an impressive and quite unexpected total of 19 shorebirds, as both Wilson's and Red-necked phalaropes appeared at the Graceville sewage ponds.


Remarkably, there were 18 shorebird species at the impoundment on Sunday afternoon, with Wilson's Phalarope the additional species. There were even more avocets this time, the godwits were still there, a colorful Sanderling in mostly in breeding plumage flew in, and a Buff-breasted bathed in front of us (though its sudden appearance came after some MBWers had left for home). In all, we came up with 20 shorebirds during the MBW, with Solitary Sandpiper (species #20 on Saturday in Big Stone Co) and Red-necked Phalarope (Graceville and Morris sewage ponds) the only ones not seen at North Ottawa. And it's interesting to note that we still managed to eventually find 14 species at various other places besides North Ottawa.


Otherwise, there were some non-shorebird highlights: a flightless Common Merganser in apparent eclipse plumage that should have been much farther north; nice looks at Red-necked, Eared, and Western grebes; a concentration of about 60 Great Egrets on a Big Stone Co wetland; a lone Swainson's Hawk over a Traverse Co cropland; Western Kingbirds at a few locations, including a young bird with an adult in Graceville; and a couple of Dickcissels on Sunday en route to North Ottawa. 


BIRD LIST


- pre-MBW, July 25 = 112 species (Stevens-Grant-Traverse-Big Stone) 

- main MBW, July 26-27 = 113 species (Stevens-Big Stone-Lac Qui Parle-Grant)

- composite total = 126 species 


Canada Goose

Wood Duck

Gadwall

Mallard

Blue-winged Teal

Northern Shoveler

Northern Pintail

(Green-winged Teal / at N Ottawa just after the MBW adjourned)

Canvasback

Redhead

Ring-necked Duck

Lesser Scaup     (pre-MBW only)

Hooded Merganser

Common Merganser     (out-of-range flightless male at Clear L in Stevens Co)

Ruddy Duck

Ring-necked Pheasant

Wild Turkey     

Pied-billed Grebe

Red-necked Grebe     (N Ottawa on pre-MBW & Thielke L)     

Eared Grebe     (pre-MBW only at N Ottawa)

Western Grebe     (best at St Mary's L on pre-MBW & Thielke L)

Double-crested Cormorant

American White Pelican

American Bittern     (N Ottawa on pre-MBW & Clear L) 

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret     (~60 at the WPA by Artichoke L)

Green Heron

Turkey Vulture

Osprey     (Big Stone NWR: probably in Big Stone Co?)

Bald Eagle

Northern Harrier

Cooper's Hawk     (Graceville on pre-MBW & the Morris cemetery)

Swainson's Hawk     (pre-MBW only in Traverse Co)

Red-tailed Hawk

Virginia Rail     (mostly heard but seen by a few)

Sora     (heard-only)

American Coot

American Avocet     (even more Sunday at N Ottawa: at least 10?)

Semipalmated Plover

Killdeer

Spotted Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper     (shorebird #20 for the MBWeekend in Big Stone Co!)

Greater Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs

Upland Sandpiper     (heard at N Ottawa on pre-MBW; fly-by there Sunday)

Marbled Godwit     (2 at N Ottawa)

Stilt Sandpiper     (best at N Ottawa)

Sanderling     (N Ottawa: incl one Sunday in mostly breeding plumage)

Baird's Sandpiper     (N Ottawa)

Least Sandpiper

Buff-breasted Sandpiper     (close at N Ottawa on pre-MBW & Sunday; also distantly by Graceville sewage ponds)

Pectoral Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Short-billed Dowitcher

Wilson's Snipe

Wilson's Phalarope     (incl N Ottawa Sunday; not here on pre-MBW)

Red-necked Phalarope     (Graceville & Morris sewage ponds)

Franklin's Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Black Tern

Forster's Tern     (pre-MBW only)

Rock Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-Dove     (all 4 counties)

Mourning Dove

Great Horned Owl     (pre-MBW only)

Common Nighthawk

Chimney Swift

Ruby-throated Hummingbird     (pre-MBW only)

Belted Kingfisher

Red-bellied Woodpecker     (pre-MBW only at Niemackl Co Park)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker     (Big Stone State Park)

Downy Woodpecker     (pre-MBW only)

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

American Kestrel

Merlin     (pre-MBW only: brief fly-by at Niemackl Co Park)

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Empidonax, sp.     (probably a Least at Clear L)

Western Kingbird     (Traverse Co & adult w/young in Graceville)

Eastern Kingbird

Yellow-throated Vireo

Warbling Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

Blue Jay

American Crow

Horned Lark

Purple Martin

Tree Swallow

N Rough-winged Swallow     (pair at Big Stone NWR in Lac Qui Parle Co)

Bank Swallow

Cliff Swallow

Barn Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

House Wren

Sedge Wren

Marsh Wren

Eastern Bluebird     (Big Stone State Park)

American Robin

Gray Catbird

Brown Thrasher     (pre-MBW only)

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing

Common Yellowthroat

Yellow Warbler

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow

Field Sparrow     (Big Stone State Park)

Vesper Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

(Grasshopper Sparrow / probably heard by Brad in Big Stone Co)

Song Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

Northern Cardinal     (Niemackl Co Park on pre-MBW; also at the owl-less cemetery) 

Rose-breasted Grosbeak     (pre-MBW only)

Indigo Bunting     (pre-MBW only: heard-only at Niemackl Co Park)

Dickcissel     (2 near Herman Sunday afternoon)

Bobolink

Red-winged Blackbird

Western Meadowlark

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird     (pre-MBW only)

Common Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

Orchard Oriole     (mostly in Grant Co on pre-MBW)

Baltimore Oriole

House Finch

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow







Also see the 2015 and 2014 MBW summaries

following the summary of the 2016 MBWeekend


__________



MORRIS MBWeekend SUMMARY

August 19 - 20 - 21, 2016


Well, some of us (myself included) are content to just make lazy, wild guesses about stuff. Others take a more calculated approach….


"Out of curiosity, I counted the PUMA on the wire in the photo below. This was the last section of wire and the picture was taken after the birds had settled down after we had been watching the shorebirds for a while. I came up with 660 birds in the photo between the two poles. There were six section of wire. Although the last section was the mostly densely packed, it was also significantly shorter than the other five sections. So, if we assume that the other sections had a similar number of birds, the total on the wires would be 3960. This, of course, doesn’t include all the birds that were flying over the ponds, which had to be in the hundreds. So, I say your estimate of 4000 as a minimum was pretty good.”  -Howard Towle



*          *          *



MORRIS MBWEEKEND SUMMARY

August 21 - 22 - 23, 2015



….So, there you go! It seems the easy-way-out, wild-guess approach works after all. Anyway, it was a most impressive sight (or “Huge!” as The Donald might say), and 4,000 represents the second-largest concentration of Purple Martins ever recorded in MN, according to the MOU website. 


Indeed, I’d have to say that the highlights on this MBW were mostly modest until we made it to the Morris sewage ponds. Before then, our best finds were a curious-looking leucistic Canada Goose in Big Stone Co, a fair assortment of shorebirds (14 species Friday-Saturday plus a 15th at Morris; there were no large mudflats, with the North Ottawa impoundment especially disappointing), an unexpected E Screech-Owl heard by day in Stevens Co, and a few migrant passerines of note (e.g., Olive-sided Flycatcher, Northern Waterthrush, Palm, Black-throated Green and Canada warblers – but only 10 warbler species in all). 


But then came those thousands of martins crowding the wires by the sewage ponds, and even more eye-opening were the shorebirds waiting for us at the last pond. Foraging nearly at our feet only some 30 feet away in perfect light were all four Minnesota peeps: Baird’s, Semipalmated, Least, and White-rumped sandpipers – the latter quite rare in fall migration. (The only thing missing was Western, which is only Casual in MN.) Never before had I seen these four together anywhere for such close study at one time!


“No Refunds”, indeed! In fact, maybe it’s time for a new MBW slogan this fall, one that is more in line with this election year: "Make MBWs Great Again”.  



BIRD LIST (118 species total, plus Blue Grosbeak in Swift Co Sunday afternoon)  

        

PRE = found on pre-MBW only, August 19 (92 species; Stevens-Big Stone-Traverse-Grant

           counties)

MBW = found on main MBW only, August 20-21 (105 species; Stevens-Big Stone-Traverse-

             Lac Qui Parle counties)

(species not annotated PRE or MBW were found on both portions)


Canada Goose            

Wood Duck

Gadwall

Mallard

Blue-winged Teal

Northern Shoveler

Green-winged Teal

Redhead

Hooded Merganser

Ruddy Duck

Ring-necked Pheasant

Wild Turkey      MBW

Pied-billed Grebe

Western Grebe      PRE

Double-crested Cormorant

American White Pelican

American Bittern      MBW

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Green Heron      PRE

(Plegadis ibis, sp. - we couldn’t relocate the one seen on Thursday in Traverse Co)

Turkey Vulture

Osprey      PRE

Bald Eagle

Northern Harrier

Broad-winged Hawk      PRE

Red-tailed Hawk

Virginia Rail (heard-only)      MBW

Sora

American Coot

Semipalmated Plover      MBW

Killdeer

Spotted Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper      MBW

Greater Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs

Stilt Sandpiper

Baird's Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper

White-rumped Sandpiper      MBW

Pectoral Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper

dowitcher, sp. (probably Short-billeds) 

Wilson's Snipe      PRE

Wilson's Phalarope

Franklin's Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Black Tern

Forster's Tern

Rock Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Mourning Dove

cuckoo, sp. (a fly-by in Stevens Co)      MBW

Eastern Screech-Owl (heard-only)      MBW

Common Nighthawk      PRE

Chimney Swift      PRE

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

American Kestrel      PRE

Olive-sided Flycatcher      MBW

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Least Flycatcher

Eastern Phoebe      MBW

Great Crested Flycatcher      MBW

Eastern Kingbird

Yellow-throated Vireo      MBW

Warbling Vireo      MBW

Red-eyed Vireo

Blue Jay      MBW

American Crow

Purple Martin

Tree Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow      PRE

Bank Swallow

Cliff Swallow

Barn Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

White-breasted Nuthatch

House Wren

Sedge Wren      PRE

Marsh Wren

Eastern Bluebird

American Robin

Gray Catbird      MBW

European Starling

Cedar Waxwing

Northern Waterthrush      PRE

Black-and-white Warbler      MBW

Tennessee Warbler      MBW

Common Yellowthroat

American Redstart

Yellow Warbler

Palm Warbler      MBW

Black-throated Green Warbler      MBW

Canada Warbler

Wilson's Warbler

Clay-colored Sparrow      MBW

Field Sparrow      MBW

Savannah Sparrow      MBW

Song Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow (heard-only)      MBW

Rose-breasted Grosbeak      MBW

(Blue Grosbeak - the Swift Co stake-out seen by 7 of us Sunday afternoon)

Indigo Bunting      MBW

Bobolink      PRE

Red-winged Blackbird

Western Meadowlark      PRE

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird      PRE

Common Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

Baltimore Oriole

House Finch

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow




All four Regular MN peeps (left to right: Baird’s, Semipalmated, Least, White-rumped),

Morris sewage ponds (Roy Zimmerman photo)



White-rumped Sandpiper, Morris sewage ponds (Roy Zimmerman photo)



Purple Martins, Morris sewage ponds (Roy Zimmerman photo)



Blue Grosbeak, Swift County (KRE “digiscope” photo)



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