Monday, 15 June 2015

Connecticut Warbler Quest !

So we just spent a long weekend in Minnesota on a "Sunrise Birding Tour" with our prime goal to see the ever elusive Connecticut Warbler on its breeding grounds. Our short trip went spectacularly well and indeed we did get to see two different individual Connecticut Warblers singing their hearts out at the superb Sax-Zim bog. On migration this bird is extremely elusive and difficult to see and their are many birders who still need this species for their US list. What a different story it is to look for them in their breeding habitat. These birds stop becoming elusive and sing from 20 to 40ft up in Tamarack trees and even sing from open bare branches. They were still not easy to photograph as they were up high and often with the bright sky as a backdrop.

This area of Minnesota was a fabulous place and we visited several very different habitats. The bogs and marshes and surrounding grassland and scrub produced superb views of Sharp-tailed Grouse, Le Conte's Sparrow, Black-billed Cuckoos, displaying Bobolinks and showy Sedge Wrens.
Sharp-tailed Grouse
Le Conte's Sparrow
Apart from Connecticut Warbler we were also treated to 16 other species of warbler including fine views of Blackburnian, Golden-winged, Cape May, Mourning, Canada and Chestnut-sided to mention a few.
Sedge Wren
An added excursion to an area of Boreal Forest was a delight as we connected with Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee and some amazing dragonflies including Spiny Baskettail and a Twin-spotted Snaketail.

Black-backed Woodpecker - female
Twin-spotted Spiketail
We saw some fresh Moose tracks, Wolf scat and a couple of big Snapping Turtles including one that had just laid its eggs. Other highlights during this wonderful break were both Common Merganser and Trumpeter Swan with chicks, Common Loon on its nest, 3 American Bitterns flying together, a perched Bald Eagle, Black-billed Cuckoos chasing each other, Yellow-bellied. Least and Alder Flycatchers, a family of Black-billed Magpies and Gray Jays. One evening we went for a long drive and added Common Nighthawk, Woodcock and several Eastern Whip-poor-wills.
A great trip with a great guide, Chris, and some fabulous moments with a fun group.
One word of warning - only ever order a half rack of ribs and not a full rack !!!! Phew!!

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