Walked yesterday at Kathio State Park (northern Mille Lacs County), "Touch
the Earth" trail near the interpretive center. It features a small bog,
have found summering (presumably nesting) Connecticut Warblers and
Yellow-bellied Flycatchers there in the past. Rationale for the walk was
the possibility of winter boreal species.
The walk was OK - single WW Crossbill, Raven carrying nesting material - and
I would soon bump into five Ruffed Grouse on the exit road. However, as I
was standing on the boardwalk, ready to return, a loud call, booming even,
erupted. I counted 14 calls that reverberated throughout the woods.
While I've been birding 17 years or so, there are still new calls to be
heard, particularly season-sensitive or unusual ones. Thoughts ranged from
owl to moose (they were that loud). However, as I started walking towards
the call, a large dark bird erupted from distant trees and flew directly
away from me, giving virtually no diagnostic marks.
Discussed this with Nate upon my return, he played the Great Gray Owl
"getting ready to nest" call on his computer, nice match.
Great Grays are reported sporadically from Kathio, and Aitkin CR 18 is only
55 miles or so north. I have seen one at Kathio in the past, but it was
during the irruption year(s).
So...one is left wondering if a Great Gray is going to attempt to nest
there...or if they have occasionally done so in the past.
Only other reportable incident from the morning was a Blue Jay doing an
excellent Broad-winged call along the western Mille Lacs lakefront.
Good birding to all!
Mille Lacs & Sherburne Counties
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