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Subject:[mou-net] SW MN weekend: White-faced Ibis, Bell's Vireo, Blue-winged Warbler
From:Matt Dufort <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Matt Dufort <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 16 May 2011 22:08:10 -0600

Hi all,

I spent yesterday and this morning birding the southwestern corner of 
the state.  On Sunday I visited a number of sites in Jackson and Nobles 
counties, and this morning I spent about five hours at Blue Mounds State 
Park in Rock County.  I was not disappointed, with big waves of migrant 
passerines almost everywhere I went, as well as many breeding species on 
territory or already nesting.

Migrant warblers and thrushes were particularly abundant, with large 
numbers of Catharus thrushes at most sites, and 21 warbler species for 
the trip, most of them quite common.  Tennessee Warblers were literally 
everywhere, with almost every woodlot holding at least a few.  Sparrows 
were also abundant, with 13 species plus Eastern Towhee.  I found a 
number of species to be much more common and widespread than I expected, 
including Cape May Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Yellow-throated 
Vireo, and Gray-cheeked Thrush.  I also searched unsuccessfully for Blue 
Grosbeak and Great-tailed Grackle in locations where they've been found 
in the past.

The big revelation of the trip for me was Black Bridge Road near 
Jackson, where I encountered wave after wave of warblers, 4 species of 
vireos (including Bell's and Philadelphia), numerous flycatchers, 
Scarlet Tanager, ~15 Swainson's Thrushes and multiple Gray-cheeked 
Thrushes.  I clearly caught this spot on the right day, but the mix of 
habitats, right along the Des Moines River, makes for fantastic birding 
in migration.

My short list of highlights for the trip includes:
  - Bell's Vireo, along Black Bridge Road, just northwest of the town of 
Jackson in Jackson County
  - Blue-winged Warbler, at Fury Island Park on East Graham Lake in 
northeastern Nobles County
  - White-faced Ibis, at the wetland just west of the south end of East 
Graham Lake, on Town Avenue in northeastern Nobles County

For those interested, a longer list of highlights with specific 
locations is below.  This was my first birding trip to this part of the 
state, and it was fantastic!

Good birding,
Matt Dufort
Minneapolis, MN

Here's the longer list of highlights:

Jackson County

Loon Lake area (Brown and Robertson county parks)
  - Eurasian Collared-Dove - 1 calling at Brown County Park
  - Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - 4 at Robertson County Park
  - many warbler species, with Cape May Warbler the most unusual

Big Spirit Lake and surrounds
  - Caspian, Forster's, Common, and Black Terns (all mostly or solely in 
  - Bonaparte's and Franklin's Gulls (no Black-headed)
  - Wilson's Phalarope

Jackson sewage ponds
  - Red-necked Phalarope - 2
  - Spotted Sandpiper - 9
  - Purple Martin
  - Black Tern

Black Bridge Road northwest of Jackson
  - Bell's Vireo, singing and seen well, just south of the I-90 overpass
  - Philadelphia Vireo, ditto
  - Yellow-throated Vireo
  - Scarlet Tanager
  - wave after wave of migrant warblers and thrushes, with many 
individuals including Cape May and Parula
  - Willow, Least, and Olive-sided Flycatchers

South Heron Lake
  - 1 Western Grebe was about the only bird on the lake

Nobles County

Fury Island Park
  - Blue-winged Warbler - one male singing consistently and seen well
  - many other warblers, including Blackburnian, Cape May, and many 
  - Olive-sided Flycatcher
  - Yellow-throated Vireo

wetland along Town Avenue, southwest of East Graham Lake
  - White-faced Ibis - 1 adult
  - Franklin's Gull
  - Eastern Kingbird - flock of 21!
  - American Pipit
  - Least, Semipalmated, and Baird's Sandpipers

Rock County

Gravel pit ponds southeast of Blue Mounds SP
  - Snow Goose
  - Caspian Tern
  - Black Tern

Blue Mounds State Park
  - Yellow-throated Vireo
  - Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - 1 in the campground
  - many warblers, including Northern Parula and Cape May
  - tons of sparrows, including Lincoln's, Harris's, White-throated, 
White-crowned, Field, Grasshopper, Savannah, Clay-colored, Chipping, 
Lark, Song, and Vesper
  - Sandhill Crane - 1 calling near the campground
  - Eastern Towhee - hoping for Spotted, but no such luck
  - Black-crowned Night-Heron - 5
  - Marbled Godwit - 1 on the bison range
  - Upland Sandpiper - in the fields below the escarpment

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