The Hockema Brothers wandered west and graciously included me in their pursuit of Buff-breasted Sandpipers in the Minnesota River Valley.
While striking out in Blue Earth County at the sod farm on the corner of CR21 and CR14 east of Mapleton (a regular observation site in fall), we did manage to find fields with mixtures of Upland and Buff-breasted Sandpipers in Nicollet and Renville Counties. In Nicollet County we found 16 Buff-breasted Sandpipers and 5 Upland Sandpipers in a field on the southwest corner of CR5 and CR12 northwest of Swan Lake. We also visited the field previously reported northwest of Renville in Renville County where we found 18 Buff-breasted Sandpipers and 14 Upland Sandpipers. At that site we also heard and saw a male Blue Grosbeak in the yard of the corner house to the south and a Western Kingbird on the telephone wire just north of this field.
We had 3 other shorebird locations of note:
1) Fairfax sewage ponds (a mile south of town and to the east): both yellowlegs, Pectoral, Least, Spotted, Baird’s, and Buff-breasted (1) Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitcher, Red-necked Phalarope, Semipalmated Plover, and Killdeer along with some assorted ducks
2) Nicollet CR111 north of Nicollet at the infamous “cattle pond” on the east side of the road: Lesser Yellowlegs, Short-billed Dowitcher, Semipalmated Plover, Least, Pectoral, and Baird’s Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plover, and Killdeer.
3) Nicollet CR21 northwest of CR15 near New Ulm. This is a bit of a tricky spot because there is not much room to park on the side of the road. Please be careful! We parked in front of a gate to a private property and walked back southeast along the road to an opening where we could scan. This is an open wetland on the southwest side of the road about halfway between New Ulm and the Harkin Store. There were extensive mudflats and we estimated well over 500 shorebirds at this site: both yellowlegs, Pectoral, Least, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitcher, Semipalmated Plover and Killdeer. Numerous Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets were present here as well.
We ended up with a total of 96 species for the day which was a pretty great total in the valley.
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Bethany Lutheran College
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