A Travellerspoint blog

Sax-Zim Bog: Day 3

St. Louis County, MN

all seasons in one day 40 °F

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31 — finally caught up on 2022 posts and will be posting a “year in birds” wrap-up tomorrow!

Our last day in the Bog! Up early again, we made a bee-line for Overton Rd as that was where the Great Grays were showing up yesterday in good numbers. The morning started with a sighting of a RUFFED GROUSE way up in a tree on the way:

Then, a second grouse joined it!

And sure enough, once we rounded the bend, a group of photographers was lined up for — our third GREAT GRAY OWL day in a row! Awesome!!!

Unfortunately, it flew away after about a minute of observation so that was the only decent shot I got this morning. But hey — at least we saw it! What an absolutely majestic bird, and it proves that timing and luck are everything up here in the Bog as it’s super easy to miss these if you don’t know their preferred time of day for hunting, their regular areas, or aren’t in the groupchat.

So, after a bit more waiting around for the Owl to reappear, we headed back to the Visitor Center for a bit more songbird photography. A bunch of AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES were on the thistle feeders:

And of course the EVENING GROSBEAKS were prolific again:


On our way out of the Bog, we picked up a nice group of PINE GROSBEAKS along the road which we were super relieved to see since we hadn’t obtained decent photos of this species on this trip until now!

And another cool sighting, right on the literal edge of the Bog’s unofficial boundary was this RUFFED GROUSE eating buds up in a tree! Super great way to end our official time in the Bog with a better look at this beautiful species.

We made an unsuccessful stop in Duluth for one last try for Bohemian Waxwing followed by a stop at the Duluth garbage dump to search for Iceland, Glaucous, and Great Black-backed Gulls. We immediately saw a Coyote walking across the ice:

And thankfully, another birder who was there pointed us in the right direction to view all of the roosting gulls on top of a waste treatment building and also pointed out an ICELAND GULL — note the white (folded) wingtips compared to the surrounding HERRING GULLS:

And I spied a behemoth immature GLAUCOUS GULL among the Herrings — note the uniformly white color overall as well as the bicolored pink-and-black bill.

This, as well as the Iceland, were both lifers for Kim and Susie so it was absolutely awesome to have this be a final stop before we wrapped up the birding for this trip and drove the long way home.

Bird-of-the-day, of course, goes to the Great Gray Owl with runners-up to the Iceland & Glaucous Gulls, all three of those birds being lifers for Kim and Susie this trip! It was an awesome trip and many, many thanks to Susie, Kim, and Bruce. Susie and Kim are fantastic cooks and kept us fed with delicious meals the entire time!!

As I missed both the Waxwing and the Sharp-tailed Grouse which would’ve been personal lifers, I lived vicariously through Susie’s and Kim’s experiences, with their lifers being: Evening & Pine Grosbeaks, Great Gray Owl, Northern Shrike (Susie only), Boreal Chickadee (Susie only), Canada Jay, and Iceland & Glaucous Gulls.

Bird-of-the-trip goes to the Great Gray Owl: it has been an awesome trip to see the Great Gray three days in a row, and those three days being the last three days of 2022! What a way to wrap up the year with such a majestic bird.

Stay tuned: more birding tomorrow with Simon to kick off 2023 with some solid year birds!

Happy birding,
World Life List: 1143 Species

Posted by skwclar 05:53 Archived in USA

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