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Birding

Thank you to Edie Barrett for sharing some local birding information!  We have many comment on the birding opportunities in the area; however, we did not have detailed information to share… until now!

She also attached a list of birds – and it is quite a list!
PDF File:  mnchecklist SL 15

Edie writes… 

On Saturday, April 25, William Peterson of St. Cloud, and I participated in the 40th annual Salt Lake Bird Count. There were at least 100 people who showed-up in Marietta (at 7 AM!), most came from far reaching areas across Minnesota to help identify and count the migrating birds of Lac Qui Parle County and Big Stone County. I have to say, it was a hoot of a good time (pun intended). The group divided into various car caravan tours, each assigned to a birding guide. Our caravan had four cars; our guide was Mark Lystig of Eagen, MN. Mark was exceptional in his knowledge and his enthusiasm to help educate all of us regarding the different species of birds. It also was a tremendous asset that he had a fantastic scope which allowed us to observe birds at a distance. I felt like I was on an African Safari in my own backyard. He and his wife Becky have birded on all seven continents. Becky has been attending The Salt Lake Bird Count since the beginning. It was really fun to experience the culture of avid birders. I also felt a sense of pride that these people came to our region, and define it as an important and significant location to migrating and resident birds! I look forward to the adventure next year.

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Edie also included other stories that have been shared from this event:

by Ken Larson
Last weekend the 40th annual Salt Lake Birding Weekend took place in Lac Qui Parle, Big Stone, and northern Yellow Medicine counties. Over 90 birders from around the state met at 7 AM at the Marietta American Legion. Over the three day weekend we found 143 different species, 133 on Saturday, adding four from Friday and 6 from Sunday. Lots of waterfowl, grebes and shorebirds were around the area, with Miller Lake having the best shorebird habitat. For the second year in a row a Say’s Phoebe was found by Jim Ryan and on Sunday a Wood Thrush was found by Cindy Broste in a woods near Prairie Marsh Farm. We were able to relocate it on Monday. This is the first Wood Thrush found by the Salt Lake Birding Weekend and an early sighting for the state. A complete list is available which will be available on the MOU web site soon or you can email me directly atmailto:prairiemarshfarm@comcast.net .

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By:  Steve Weston
On Quigley Lake in Eagan, MN
sweston2@comcast.net

I returned last night from a full weekend of birding in western Minnesota with lots of great birds and wonderful companions watching them.  For those who are not familiar with this festival it is one of the oldest in the state and one with essentially no budget and few costs.  The local community is welcoming and supportive as approximately 100 birders hit the local roads.  Meals are supplied by the local service groups (Marietta VFW and Madison Sons of Norway) at very reasonable prices (sloppy joe ($3.50), all you can eat chicken dinner ($10.00)).

Highlights included Miller Lake in northern Yellow Medicine Co. with a changing cast of Avocets, both Godwits, Dunlins, Phalaropes, Dowitchers, thousands of Yellowlegs and Pectorals, an Upland Sandpiper found on Sunday, and a rich assortment of waterfowl.  Of course, the schedule of birds did not always mesh well with the observers, but everyone saw some of the featured stars.  My favorite bird was discovered after the majority of birders had left.  Our group was just about finished when Jim Ryan got to try out a high end pair of binoculars.  He turned away from the lake and focused on the cars and was surprised to find perched on a car, a Phoebe, but not just an Eastern Phoebe, but a Say’s Phoebe.  For the second year in a row he was able to find one.  And, it allow most, if not all, to view its salmon colored breast and belly.

We checked out a location in Lac qui Parle county where a group of birders had found a large shorebird that they identified as Long-billed Curlew a few days earlier. Many have visited the site, but the bird is either long gone or not cooperating with the public.  But, we were serenaded by winnowing Snipe that flew around us as we watched their singing flight.  Awesome, spellbinding… the kind of experience that I and others marked as one of their most memorable birding experience.

Salt Lake was a little short on shorebirds, but waterfowl was abundant.  Both Tundra and Trumpeter Swans were conclusively ID’d, but probably not by any of the same people.  At least 25 species of waterfowl were found including a Ross’s Goose and Dancing Western Grebes.  Sandhill Cranes were heard there on Sunday and a several other locations.  On Friday someone had a good look at a Glossy Ibis.

For me, the best bird there was several hundred yards from the lake.  We were watching flocks of Cormorants flying past, when someone spotted a Peregrine.  As we searched for the falcon, a crow began to harass something in the bare dirt field by us and he kicked up an owl, which we probably would have missed even though it had to be in plain sight.  Even though we all saw it and it was quickly ID’d, it was amazing how hard it was to describe.  It appeared to be larger than the crow, although it’s color and flight immediately generated an ID of Short-eared Owl.  Luckily there were enough cameras clicking to support the ID and confirm its similar size to the Crow.

Also, near the lake were a pair of Swainson’s Hawks, a very cooperative female light morph and a more wary dark morph, presumed a male.  There were many other good finds, some lifers, and good company.

Steve Weston
On Quigley Lake in Eagan, MN
sweston2@comcast.net

THANK YOU EDIE FOR SHARING!

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