A Travellerspoint blog

Sax-Zim Bog: Day 1

St. Louis County, MN

overcast 30 °F


Kim and Susie picked me up bright and early at 5am for my most-awaited Christmas present: a three-day trip up to the Sax-Zim Bog northwest of Duluth, MN! We of course were hoping to photograph Great Gray Owls, the most famous Bog bird, and two lifers I wanted were Bohemian Waxwing & Sharp-tailed Grouse.

On our way, we picked up my friend Bruce B and we continued our journey up to the Bog! After about eight hours on the car, we arrived at our first Bog location: Nichols Lake Road to search for Boreal Chickadees and Bohemian Waxwings. Though we came up empty, we did find the Boreal’s more-common cousin, the BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE which must be the most common bird in the Bog. Apologies for the bad focus — I didn’t exactly put in a lot of effort for this one, hah!

We were also relieved to be birding in the relatively-balmy temperature of 30F, possibly the warmest I have experienced up here in northern Minnesota during the winter!

Our most interesting sighting on the road was of this WILD TURKEY hen which flushed into a tree:

Then, I got a message on the Telegram app that a Great Gray Owl was being seen on McDavitt Rd so we immediately raced the twenty-five minutes over to the road to try to find this majestic species, my second favorite species of bird, period. And it seemed like everyone else had the same idea!

Could it be?!!!

YES!!!! GREAT GRAY OWL!! It’s the first one I have seen after the pandemic, and super exciting as I have only seen it a small handful of times before: once as my lifer in Idaho, and twice or thrice also at the Bog. Plus, this was a lifer for Kim and Susie!

Most of the time it was turned away from the crowd…

…meaning that the few times it glared directly at us, it was faced with a chorus of camera shutters.

Then, after admiring the owl for a while, we headed down to Kolu Rd where an American Porcupine was reported, and sure enough there it was near the top of the tree — looking like a bird’s nest! A mammalian lifer for me.

This immature NORTHERN SHRIKE was the only interesting bird at the Admiral Rd feeders — another lifer for Susie and Kim.

And before we knew it, it was dark so we wrapped things up for the night and headed to our VRBO in Hibbing. A wonderful, and productive day! Bird-of-the-day to the Great Gray Owl with runner-up to the Northern Shrike.

Happy birding,
World Life List: 1142 Species

Posted by skwclar 03:15 Archived in USA

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Thank you for the Great Grey Owl photos! A classic!

by Mary McCutchan

Great pics, Henry! What a wonderful trip - so many lifers!

by Susie Nies

I shriek for shrike!!!!!😁

by Poo

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