Last month I went to the Mike Hendrickson's Sax-Zim Winter Bird Festival. We got many of the northern specialty birds: Great Gray Owl, Hawk Owl, Pine Grosbeak, killer looks at the Boreal Chickadee, both Common and Hoary Redpoll, Gray Jay, Snow Bunting, Northern Shrike, Magpies. We had 20 Rough-legged Hawks, including two beautiful dark morphs, which I consider one of the most beautiful birds. The best thing I saw was a wolf crossing US 53 just before the Meadowlands turnoff. My favorite moment of the weekend: We pulled up to an empty field, and after a brief wait, 10 Sharp-tailed Grouse flew in and started dancing. Awesome!
One of our bus drivers related how she saw a "bobcat" one morning on her route. The description of the large light gray cat with a short tail was a great description of a rarely seen lynx!
This weekend I went down to the Owl Festival in Houston, MN. Our owl prowl was the least successful of the three. We found only a distant Saw-whet and a distant Great Horned Owl. The speakers were incredible and made the weekend well worth it.
Best bird was a flock of Purple Finches. One of the participants reported that he had eight singing Western Meadowlarks that have been wintering at the bluffs nearby along the Root River. Even more interesting was his report of Chriket Frogs, which would be only the second or third location in the state of this amphibian.
Spring is on its way. Many of the fields had large areas of bare ground. Still besides a few Horned Larks and a distant flight of probable Snow Buntings, the winter field birds I expected were not around.
Steve Weston on Quiggley Lake in Eagan, MN
Join or Leave mou-net: http://lists.umn.edu/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=mou-net