I’ve recovered enough to send this out. Yesterday, Andrew Krenz, Trent Robbins, and I attempted to break the Big Day record for Nicollet County but only succeeded in tying it. Summary: 12 waterfowl, 3 grebes, 6 herons, 7 hawks, 12 shorebirds, 4 larids, 4 owls, 6 woodpeckers, 8 flycatchers, 5 swallows, 4 thrushes, 22 warblers, 12 sparrows, 10 blackbirds. Hours 1215-1730.
American Avocet at the Swan Lake WMA along CR12 north of Courtland
Cerulean Warbler—3 males singing at Seven Mile Creek County Park (1 at the first bridge as you enter, 1 at the rearmost parking lot, 1 down trail 8)
Eastern Whip-poor-will at a couple of locations along the Judson Bottom Road. At one point we had 2 Whip-poor-wills and an Eastern Screech-Owl calling at the parking lot of the North Star Unit of the Swan Lake WMA. This is located 0.5 miles west on CR62 from CR23 south of Nicollet.
Western Kingbird—2 individuals about 1 mile west of CR23 on the south side of CR62.
Long-eared Owl—calling along 465th Ave south of CR62 (quite the surprise!)
Commentary: The first bird of the day was a Least Sandpiper at 12:25am. It was calling overhead as I walked out of the Kwik Trip in North Mankato. Our only Lesser Yellowlegs and Solitary Sandpiper were similarly nocturnal flyovers. Listening conditions were ideal for much of the pre-dawn and we had Scarlet Tanager and Black-billed Cuckoo before 2am! Shorebird habitat was largely absent and our lone staked out location was flooded on Thursday so there were minimal mudflats to scan come Saturday. We still managed to find some here and there. We birded Seven Mile Creek County Park from 10:00-12:30 and came away with 64 species including all of our warblers except for Northern Waterthrush. If you’ve never birded that park during spring migration, I highly recommend it! You never know what you are going to find there. The other spot to look for birds in the county is along the Judson Bottom Road which extends from North Mankato to nearly Courtland below the river bluff. This road goes by a variety of names along its length, but has an awesome variety of habitats and scenic vistas. We had over 70 of our species on that road alone. The Swan Lake complex was the other significant feature on our Big Day. It has been awhile since I have birded that lake due to my interest in Blue Earth County birding and much has changed. This large cattail marsh/lake was inaccessible when I birded it in prior years; it has become even more so as the cattails have pushed out from the shore and made viewing any open water very difficult even with a scope. I’m sure it is a big draw for birds, but there are much more intimate viewing opportunities for many of the same birds in Blue Earth County.
If anyone is looking for specific locations for birds, just back-channel me.