The 400 Bird Quest - Long overdue update

Count Update: 387 / 400

It has been a busy summer. But mostly I have been busy neglecting this blog. Some large work projects have consumed the summer. Birding has been here and there as time allows. Here’s a recap of the species added to the Big Year list:

Went on an annual fishing trip to Northern MN with some college friends. “Elective” detours found these four species :

#374 Yellow-billed Cuckoo at Rice Lake NWR, June 09, 2018 - I heard several singing on their breeding territories along the automobile tour route.

#375 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Sax-Zim Bog/ St. Louis county, June 12, 2018

#376 Canada Warbler, Sax-Zim Bog, June 12, 2018 Both species were heard singing in the mosquito infested bog one early hot muggy morning. It was one of the worst mosquito environments I can remember.

#377 Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Essentia Health-Duluth Miller-Dwan Hospital Building parking Ramp, , Duluth, MN, June 12, 2018. I stopped in Duluth and located this very rare MN visitor. Perched on a parking ramp fence. It spent the summer in Duluth and had been reported by many birders that had come to see it, before and after I did. This guy was a “lifer” for me.

#378 Prothonotary Warbler, William O'Brien State Park, Scandia MN, June 17, 2018. Another Lifer for me! They are uncommon but not rare in MN. I was lucky to get him. I first heard him sing from an island in the river. Not far across the water from where I stood without a boat. I listened for some time. Finally he flew into view for just a few seconds, and then resumed singing from the cover.

#379 Blue Grosbeak, Flying Cloud Fields, Eden Prairie MN, Jun 24, 2018. It took me 2 trips to these ball fields to find this often reported “stake out”. Blue Grosbeaks are regularly in only the very SW corner of MN. This individual spent the summer way out of range in the SW metro area. Strangely, last year, there was one in Ramsey, MN (Anoka County) equally far from its normal range.

On a separate trip to northern MN with my Mom in July we added these:

#380 Boreal Chickadee at Big Bog State Recreation Area, Near Red Lake in Beltrami County, July 08, 2018. I encountered a small group of Boreal Chickadees on the 1 mile board walk through the bog. Very cool bog walk. If you are every in that area this walk is very interesting. Thompson Forest Road in Beltrami County was also buried in fresh, ripe blueberries. What a treat!

#381 Nelson's Sparrow at Agassiz NWR, Marshall County, MN July 09 2018. Heard in the cattails, in full daylight. Agassiz NWR is another, don't miss spot for waterfowl and other birds if you are in that area.

#382 Western Kingbird , Hwy 10 and Armstrong Blvd., Ramsey MN July 10 2018. During 2 trips to Western and NW MN, I had Western Kingbird on my mind. I failed to find one until we returned to our own “back yard”. Some one reported them at this location in Ramsey. So I talked Mom into a 5 minute detour on our return home. Mom was skeptical about the "5 minutes” . There were 3 Western Kingbirds perched just as reported days before. We found them right away and were literally back on the freeway in 5 minutes. So take that Mom!!

#383 Whooping Crane, Minnesota Valley NWR, Hennepin County, MN Aug 15 2018. Whoopers in MN…what!? I really wish I could say I found this pair. But these were stake outs that many other birders had reported. This pair is really special. They were so close to extinction. Wikipedia says that in 1941 there were only 23 left on the planet! Now there are 800+. Still not many, but better than 23.

#384 Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Jirik Sod Farms, Dakota County, MN Aug 17, 2018. Another stakeout reported on ebird.org was worth the trip on a beautiful August evening. Buff-breasted are another lifer for me!

#385 Baird's Sandpiper, Jirik Sod Farms, Dakota County, MN Aug 17, 2018 I found this bonus species among the other misc shore birds on the same wet field. A “two-fer” ! Time well spent.

386 Rusty Blackbird, Old Government Road, Rush City, MN Oct 12, 2018, Sitting in a tree with a flock of Red-wing blackbirds.

387 Cackling Goose, Pine City WTP, Pine County, MN Oct 14, 2018 “All the best things in life happen at sewage ponds”. This stakeout bird was reported by others for 3 days in a row. So we drove up there, sorted through 50 plus Canada Geese with the scope at a long distance, and finally spotted one. But the best part of it was fresh waffles and chicken brunch with good company! Thanks Joe and Joyce!

So that brings us up to date. For those of you that have not been following this Big Year story on CNN, I’m sorry for the long gap in coverage. I’m sure it is a huge relief to know that my birding expeditions have not ceased due to a fatal attack by mosquitoes, poison ivy, or a red fox.

I did not get any quality photos of the species listed in this post, but here are a few others from along the way.