I was finally able to see the Louisiana Waterthrush at Banning State Park in Pine County instead of just hearing him. In past years I have heard him along the Kettle River but have not seen him. He was singing and had the bright pink legs which make him quite obvious. He was located near the dead-end of the Wolf Creek Trail as it hits the cliff(not that high of a cliff but enough of one that makes it impassable) at the Hell's Gate Rapids. He was feeding along the rocks that run along the shore on the trail side of the river. Unfortunately by the time Wolf Creek Trail gets to this point, there isn't much of a trail left. It is not the safest, and if you're not careful you could fall anywhere from 5 to 20 feet down into the river as you are walking on this trail. Also, once you get to the dead-end your only 2 options are to go back the way you came or climb up the bluff which can be tricky. I climbed up, as I had already lost patience for backtracking. Once you get to the top of the bluff there is trail that you can follow.
Had I not seen the Waterthrush, I still would have been very satisfied with my morning. I arrived at slightly before 5 this morning(up at 2:30. Tell me 5 years ago that I would be getting up that early to go birding and I would have laughed in your face.). Taking the trails from the picnic area and immediately the forest was alive with the songs of Ovenbirds, Red-eyed Vireos, Least Flycatchers, Alder Flycatchers, Veery, and Wood Thrush. The number of Veery at the park was amazing. I saw 11 without having to really try(they would just pop out into overhanging branches) and heard an additional 15-20. I was surprised as well be the number of Wood Thrush. I saw 2 but heard another 4. There was a fledgling Hermit Thrush that could not have been out of the nest for long at all with both of his parents nearby scolding me to keep moving along. 2 male Scarlet Tanagers were singing on territory, but I did not see any female.
Warblers in addition to the Waterthrush for the day were 5 Golden-winged, 4 Black-throated Green, 4 Chestnut-sided, 4 Black and White, 4 American Redstart, 3 Yellow, Common Yellowthroats(in areas with suitable habitat), 3 Canada, 2 Mourning(males singing on territory), and 1 Blackburnian.
I finished the day off walking on a trail I had never walked on before(I think it's the Catawalk Trail). I walk around a bend, and 30 feet in front of me are 2 Sandhill Cranes feeding in the middle of the trail. I figured I might as well end the day and turned around.
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