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February 2012


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Erik Bruhnke <[log in to unmask]>
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Erik Bruhnke <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 13 Feb 2012 09:52:29 -0700
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Yesterday evening while driving around the Duluth Harbor (Garfield Ave and
the immediate shipping/industrial area), I spend almost an hour taking it
easy and looking for a Snowy Owl. As I was getting ready to leave, a
distant OWL caught my attention, flying in the distance (I was facing
southwest, looking in the direction of the Duluth entrance just off of the
Blotnik Bridge). Over the highway was this owl, lethargic-yet-snappy
wingbeats. I was sooo excited! After slamming on the brakes, I took a
second to view the bird through binocs, then started taking pictures. I was
expecting the bird to be getting closer or farther away, as I watched it.
After nearly two minutes, I realized that this heavy-bellied, large-winged
owl wasn't flying in towards/away direction, but was hovering in place!!!
It is so amazing to see birds put forth the tremendous amount of energy
when they are hovering in place, especially with the larger raptors that
have to really work against a great deal of resistance with their wings.
After the ~2 minutes went by, the owl dove down. I quickly drove over to
the lake-side of the harbor and scanned for the owl, with no luck. It was
one of those "wow, this bird is giving me goosebumps" moments! Below are
some photos of the hovering Snowy Owl. (Diving) (one last hover, just beyond
the highway)

A perfectly intact, frozen egg I found on the ground, in a grassy area
along the harbor. I think it's a Canada Goose egg. It was so weird to see
this time of year.

I showed a lady around Sax-Zim Bog all day this past friday, and we worked
hard to see what we saw. The temps just barely broke double digits, and the
windchill kept birds hunkering down in the thickets. We were treated to
Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Grosbeaks, Common Redpolls, a very brief look at a
possible female Hoary Redpoll among the Common Redpolls.Blue Jays also made
an appearance at the feeders. Throughout the rest of the bog vicinity we
had wonderful views of the fluffy Gray Jays, the Boreal Chickadee along the
Admiral Road feeders, and many views of Common Redpoll and White-winged
Crossbill flocks! Great Gray Owls eluded us, likely due to the harsh
weather conditions, as did any of the three-toed woodpeckers (both the
Black-backed Woodpecker and American Three-toed Woodpeckers have three
toes; a trait unique to only them). Regardless, it was a very fun day!
Below are some photos from the trip.

Red-breasted Nuthatch, trying to stay warm

Female Evening Grosbeak

Excitement at the feeders (the first photo includes a funny caption)

Ending the day with gorgeous views of civil twilight

Good birding,
Erik Bruhnke
Duluth, MN

*NATURALLY AVIAN* - Guided Birdwatching Trips and Bird photography
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