Two adult Barrow's Goldeneyes were present at Camp Lacupolis late this AM. For just 15 seconds the two birds were together in the scope at the same time and then one dove and we were unable to see two at the same time again due to the shifting directions they were going, the constant diving, and the trees that we were looking through to see them.
When we arrived at the area Bruce Fall was there and had been there for more than an hour. During that time he had seen one male Barrow's and said that the birds were hard to follow because of the above problems. It took us about a half hour before we were able to find the Barrow's and while watching it, losing it, refinding it, losing it, etc the two birds crossed paths for the short time. Also present were Redheads and a Black Duck.
In downtown Red Wing a Redhead and a Canvasback were with a couple of Mallards.
At the Hastings dam the Franklins Gull was present late morning after returning from Blue Lake, where Craig Mandel had found it on Tuesday. This has to be one of the most interesting birds in Minnesota this winter. Early December it was on Lake Calhoun, then it was at the Hastings dam, and about mid-December it was at Black Dog. It spent the rest of December at Black Dog and who knows where else. Then on January 2 or so it went to Hastings where it spent the entire month of January. Bruce saw it there on January 30 and nobody posted on it again till Craig found it at Blue Lake on Feb 9. Several of us looked for it last weekend with no luck. It was not at Blue Lake on Wednesday so was that the day it headed back to Hastings? Who knows!!!! It seems to take 30 plus mile flights like we walk around the block.
By the way we are presuming that all of these sightings are of the same bird. This is a first January and February record for Franklin's Gull in Minnesota. And the species is not all that common north of the Rio Grande in winter. During the 2008-9 Christmas Bird Counts only 75 birds of this species were found in the lower 48 states. And nearly half of those were in one flock in Kansas. Also remember that most Christmas counts are held in December. The number in January is undoubtedly much lower. So it seems safe to presume that these sightings are of the same bird. Several of you are Texas birders in the winter. How many Franklins are seen in Texas in January and February?
It seems to have no problem catching and feeding on shad that it and the waterfowl can easily catch at Hastings so there is every reason to believe that it will survive the easy part of winter now. It probably will be harder to find as the ice has started to open up on the river. It likes to sit on the ice between feeding flights over the water. The numbers of goldeneye and eagles seemed to be down from the past few weeks so some migration is taking place.
Dennis and Barbara Martin
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