Monday 28 December 2015 25 °F
"Welcome to the land of arctic temperatures, windswept, snowy landscapes, and biting wind," the Sax-Zim Bog seemed to tell us as my uncle Mory, his birding friend Bruce, and I entered the frozen, northern Minnesota winter. What a change from the warm Caribbean Sea just over a week ago!
The drive was pretty good for birding (although we missed the Snowy Owls in Superior, WI); we saw about twenty BALD EAGLES, I got my only life bird of the day which was an unphotographed flock of SNOW BUNTINGS that flew away from the road (Bruce confirmed my identification on that), but the clear highlight was this beautiful light-phase ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK that all three of us enjoyed photographing. Here are my photos of this beautiful bird:
Once we arrived at the Sax-Zim Bog, we had an hour before darkness would set in so we birded Admiral Road where we learned we had missed a Great Gray Owl, one of our primary targets for the trip, by fifteen minutes! How aggravating! Here is an example of the winter landscape we entered today:
Apart from a few BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES (although no Boreals like we were hoping), as well as this RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, the Admiral Road feeders were disappointingly quiet:
The bird-of-the-day came at the end of the day when Bruce spotted this RUFFED GROUSE which appeared right in front of the car as we were slowly driving down a road in the Bog. It froze, motionless in the glow of the car's headlights:
Stay tuned - tomorrow we will be searching thoroughly for the Great Gray Owls, with other targets being Sharp-tailed Grouse, Northern Goshawk, Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, Pine Grosbeak, and Hoary Redpoll.
World Life List: 887 Species (1 life bird today: Snow Bunting)