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Subject:Mille Lacs Lake and Royalton Snowy Owl
From:Betsy Beneke <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Betsy Beneke <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 27 Nov 2011 16:36:02 -0800
Content-Type:text/plain

I spent the day driving the perimeter of Mille Lacs Lake, looking for "odd" ducks, but didn't find any - well - except for a guy named Elliott who insisted on pumping my gas for me at Garrison.  I left him in the dust when he said he didn't own a pair of binoculars.
 
I found large rafts of divers, 98% common goldeneye, with a smattering of bufflehead, greater and lesser scaup and a couple of ring-necked ducks.  From the Father Hennepin State Park entrance road I noted 7 hooded mergansers - the only ones I saw all day.  There were also many common mergansers on the west side of the lake.  Divers were mostly on the east and west sides of the lake.  There were several small groups of tundra swans on the north side of the lake, viewed from two points along Wealthwood.  There were two common loons at St. Alban's Bay.  Also found quite a few Bonaparte's gulls, mostly on the west side of the lake.  I searched in vain for scoters or long-tailed, which were my targets.  Guess I'm either blind or unlucky, because Denny and Barb Martin found several odd ducks, and none were named Elliott.
 
I zipped back toward home late in the afternoon, hoping to arrive at Royalton before dark, to look for the snowy owl.  I'd scoured the area in the morning, before heading for Mille Lacs, without luck.  As I turned south off of CR 26 one mile west of Roytalton, I noticed several cars pulled off on the shoulder - they belonged to Denny and Barb Martin, Milt Blomberg and Frank Gosiak.  Denny & Barb beat me back from Mille Lacs in time to find the owl (about 4:30), called Milt and Frank, and had the bird in the scope.  I had time for a shadowy look before it got really dark.  THANK YOU AGAIN, DENNY AND BARB!  Frank said the bird has been in the area for 5 days.  Hope it stays at least one more, as I'm hoping to get a photo tomorrow.  It was in Morrison County, but just barely.  Would be nice if it flew south to Stearns.  With my luck, who knows...
 
Betsy Beneke
Sartell, MN

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