Wow! Such great bird goings on in far SW Rock Co., a very good place to bird
prairie sites. Makes me want to jump in the car and see it all for myself.
Obligations at home will help me save gas, so I'll bird vicariously with
Shawn's reports!

A great spot in SE Minn. for Henslow's is at Frontenac State Park. Went down
last week to take my mom and sister (visiting from Michigan for a few days)
to Frontenac and Hok-Si-La to experience migration on the Mid-continent N-S
flyway. We heard and saw several different Henslow's, mostly on the entrance
road's prairie sections at the top of the bluff, where we also listen for
woodcock on clear moonlit nights, near the entrance to the walk-in sites'
parking lot, and the picnic area at the end of the road. My mom was
especially excited, since I don't think she actually believed that we'd be
successful, she'd never seen one before!

The birds at home are going crazy with song today, after the rainstorms with
hail last night. It's been sooo dry here that I'm sure they're drinking
water off every leaf! New arrivals in the last few days have been Redstarts,
Indigo Buntings, and more Wood Peewee's (think the first batch about a week
ago were migrants). What has been very fun to watch are the 2-3 pairs of
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers that have decided to stay this year. Up until
about 3 years ago, they were migrants, or nested in other locations, but
have taken territories on either side of the house and one along the drive. 

We have 2 phoebe nests on the house this year, too, and they don't seem to
be fighting or competing for food. One set is singing their "quiet, you
don't really hear us" song right now, which means they have babies in the
nest. When that brood is gone, they will step it up again, until the next
batch hatch. This happens 2-3x all summer, so the phoebe population around
our area must be expanding.

The Ovenbirds have stepped up their songs, and the Tennessee's are still
going through, for at least 3 weeks now! Fun. The Barred Owls are calling a
lot, both day and night, which wakes up the dog, which wakes us all up. We
hear a good amount of the 'monkey' calls from the Barred's as they talk
about this n' that. I think the owl that whinnies more on the last notes of
their call is the female.

This year's resident Baltimore Orioles must be younger than the adults that
were here last year; their songs are not as loud and complete. They are more
skittish about coming to the feeder for jelly, but it's disappearing
nonetheless, filled the bowl 3x over the last 1.5 weeks.

We just began slapping mosquitoes yesterday. The 'dry' spell ended with the
hotter weather over the last couple of days... I'm sure all the rain came
because we finally had time to get out our hoses and begin watering the
yard... Watered all day yesterday with the 2 traveling sprinklers and moving
others around... !!

Excuse me, gotta go, hearing an unusual blackbird calling near the marsh.
Will report back if it's something noteworthy...

Holly Peirson
Columbus, SE Anoka Co.



-----Original Message-----
From: Minnesota Birds [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Shawn
Conrad
Sent: Saturday, May 19, 2012 8:53 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [mou-net] Rock County Henslow's Sparrows and MNBBA observations

This morning I was at Touch the Sky NWR in Rock County and heard a "hiccup"
that turned out to be a Henslow's Sparrow.  The bird was singing right on
the edge of the road directly across from the south parking lot of the To
the Sky trail kiosk (on 171st, about 2.5 miles west of 75); photos at
http://www.moumn.org/cgi-bin/doc.pl?rec_id=2810  Shortly after, I heard
another Henslow's in the tract just to the west, then found 2 more of them
singing at the north To the Sky trail kiosk along 181st.  There are very
few records for this species in far SW Minnesota.  I also heard an Upland
Sandpiper at the south To the Sky kiosk.

Surveying Breeding Bird Atlas blocks in Rock County has been interesting.
Species like Red-headed Woodpecker have been almost common (>dozen), I've
seen at least 8 Upland Sandpipers including a group of 3, Dickcissels are
all over, Orchard Orioles are frequent, and I've seen a few Swainson's
Hawks including an adult feeding chicks on a nest (photo on the MNBBA.org
gallery) along CR 10 in NE Rock.

I saw 2 male Blue Grosbeaks at locations along 231st between Hwy 23 & 50th
Avenue.

A few migrant warblers are still around, including Tennessee Warblers all
over the place, Northern Waterthrush, Magnolia, Blackpoll, & (late) Palm at
Blue Mounds SP.  I've seen several Swainson's Thrushes in the last couple
of days as well.  At the south end of Blue Mounds, I found a Northern
Cardinal nest with chicks that was constructed with a shopping bag.  A
photo will be on the MNBBA.org gallery this week.

Field puddles are drying up fast, but I have stumbled on American Pipits,
Pectoral, Least, & Semipalmated Sandpipers, and Short-billed Dowitchers in
fields.  The Hardwick sewage ponds had numerous peeps of the above species
and a few Wilson's Phalaropes and Hills sewage ponds had 39 Wilson's
Phalaropes and a Gadwall (among other waterfowl) today.

Finally, I visited the gravel pit ponds NE of Luverne tonight.  There were
~100 peeps in various-sized flocks including Pectoral, Baird's,
Semipalmated, and White-rumped.  There was also a lone Sanderling present
on the S pond.  A small flock of Black Terns was present, Franklin's Gulls
were there yesterday, and I had great looks at Barn, Bank, Cliff, and
Northern Rough-winged Swallows on the sand piles.

*Note about accessing the gravel pit ponds and the "Road Closed" gate.  To
obtain access to the WMA east of the pit, I talked to someone at the gravel
pit.  I was told that when the gate is open (and gate hours are posted),
it's OK to drive past the pit ponds to get to the WMA.  It's probably not a
good idea to scan the gravel pit ponds if trucks are hauling.  When the
gate is closed, it is OK to walk through the gate to the WMA.  (Don't block
the gate when you park!)  It's also OK to scan the ponds FROM THE ROAD.
All of the employees I encountered were really easy-going as long as I
birded from the road.  I was told that people leaving the road to get
closer to the pits will not be tolerated at all.  This should not be a
problem, since there are plenty of sandy flats on the NW pond that can be
seen from the road.

Shawn Conrad

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