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Subject:The 327 Willet Bonanza at Lake Byllesby ~ Dakota County
From:Conny Brunell <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Fri, 30 Apr 2010 16:03:40 -0500

Today was one of those birding days that you wish for after stormy weather where you hit the jackpot but Susan Schumacher and I in our wildest dreams could not have imagined the numbers of Willets that we discovered while we scoped Lake Byllesby in Dakota County.  I am a head counter and do not count birds in blocks so I carefully made many sweeps back and forth across the mudflats to count the Willets.  I repeated the process over and over to have an uninterrupted, continuous count and the numbers grew as more Willets continued to fly in 30, 40, & 50 at a time.  What started as the original post (thanks to Doug for posting and getting the word out for us) of 240 ended up to be my final count of 327 present and what a spectacular sight that was!  That many Willets had very loud vocals that could be heard from the parking lot, and the distinctive bold black and white wing pattern in flight was eye catching.
The joy of discovery was in high gear this morning while each sweep produced yet more amazing birds.  The 12 American Avocets were out in front of us and the 20 Wilson's Phalaropes and Willets surrounded them all feeding hungrily.  Then the White-faced Ibis a spectacular adult breeding bird appeared and was feeding voraciously.  There were 3 Hudsonian Godwits, 20 Semipalmated Plovers, and the other shorebirds that have been reported previously.  

Conny Brunell
Hennepin County

Lake Byllesby

From Randolph and MN. State 56 turn east onto Dakota County 88 (292nd St.).  Lake Byllesby is on the south side of the highway.  In .2 mile there is a driveway to your right with limited parking and a gate, do not block the gate.  Walk behind the gate, down the hill and look for an opening in the trees looking east to the mudflats.  There is also another access another .2 m east of here, pull into the Lake Side Cemetery and walk the road to the east and view the lake and mudflats.  A spotting scope would be recommended to see across the extensive mudflats.

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