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Bird Report

Bird Report

BIRD & WILDLIFE REPORT for March 1, 2018

Boreal Owls have not been seen for the last 3 days. It is likely that they are returning north already.

Great Gray Owls continue in several locations…Try CR7 north of Sax Road and Owl Avenue has been good lately. Dawn and dusk are always best. Your best bets are on cloudy, calm, “warm” days (temps in 20s or 30s F). Cruise slowly…or look for other photographers who’ve already found one. But remember…When joining other photographer/birders who have already found an owl, don’t drive or move in front of them. They were there first. Ask to join them, or stay respectfully back a ways.

Northern Hawk Owls have been harder to find lately. Check Stone Lake Road and McDavitt Road near the parking pad in the bog stretch.

Sharp-tailed Grouse continue at the lek north and east of intersection of Racek Road and CR29/229 (marked on birding map). Amazingly they have been seen “dancing” on this lek all winter! (weather dependant…and early in morning). They are also seen at the feeder at the house just north east of this same intersection. **Watch respectfully from the road…DO NOT WALK OR DRIVE INTO Mr Racek’s DRIVEWAY! Several birders have been seen doing this. We do not want to jeopardize our good standing with Mr. Racek’s amazing tolerance towards birders.

The best way to see a Ruffed Grouse is to stay in the bog until dusk and then scan tops of alder, aspen trees for silhouetted grouse eating buds. They like to feast at this time since their mortal enemy, the Goshawk, is going to bed. Nichols Lake Road, CR7 south of Arkola, Owl Avenue are all good roads to check.

American Three-toed Woodpecker & Black-backed Woodpecker continue at the Warren Nelson Memorial Bog (marked on our birding map). Walk in on the path near the big sign and listen for them as they flake bark off beetle-infested Black Spruce and Tamarack. Keep voices low as you search. Black-backeds have also been seen at two of our other tracts….Wintergreen Bog (must snowshoe in on trail near sign) and East Stone Lake Bog (hike/snowshoe from where road ends). This woodpecker could be anywhere in the Bog this year…It is an irruption year for both species.

Boreal Chickadees have NOT been coming to the Admiral Road feeders this winter. Several have been heard and seen near the feeders though.

Gray Jays can be seen near the feeders or along Admiral Road occasionally. They have been seen gathering nesting material during this last week. They are early nesters and can be on eggs in March!

Mary Lou’s feeders on CR444 are always better before lunch time…She continues to host many Evening Grosbeaks and now a regular group of Pine Grosbeaks that are often at the feeder on her backyard arbor. Several guides have also reported Hoary Redpolls here. Don’t forget to park in her driveway please…and DO NOT point binoculars or camera at the house across the street! That is not a birder-friendly location. Also, please DONATE GENEROUSLY to Mary Lou’s efforts (there is a donation box at the entrance to the driveway). She puts in so much of her own money to make this spot a pleasant experience for visiting birders…including a heated port-a-potty!!

Loretta’s FORTY-ONE (!) feeders along Kelsey-Whiteface Road have been hosting a regular flock of Pine Grosbeaks, including many males. They often feed at eye-level. Please DONATE GENEROUSLY to Loretta & Mark’s efforts (there is a donation box at the entrance to the feeder trail). She puts in so much of her own money to make this spot a unique and productive spot for visiting birders/photographers.

The Welcome Center on Owl Avenue is a great place to see Gray Jays and Common Redpolls. There have also been several Hoary Redpolls (male and female) here all winter. **Note that the Welcome Center closes for the season on March 11.

Note that Pine Grosbeaks are one of the first of our winter visitors from the North to head back. Most are gone from the Bog by the end of the first week in March.

Northern Shrikes have been seen in many places across the Bog. There are a couple more tolerant shrikes that hang out along Stone Lake Road. Usually shrikes fly the instant you step on the brake pedal!

Watch the new feeders on both sides of Arkola just east of Owl Avenue for …anything! They are new and not much has been seen there yet. But this is a historic site for Boreal Chickadee. White-winged Crossbills have been spotted on the road gritting/salting recently.

These species have very rare or non-existant in the Bog recently….Snow Bunting, Rough-legged Hawk, White-winged Crossbill, Snowy Owl. But this could change as birds begin to head north. But Clinton and Kristina saw 2 Rough-legs today in the Bog…They may be coming back through on their way to the tundra.

Redpolls will often linger until late March/early April before heading back to the taiga/tundra. Great Gray Owls are year-round residents but become very hard to find as they start their courtship & nesting in late March/April/May.

**Safe viewing is crucial…Please pull over on shoulder (but not too far so you get stuck!). Don’t park across from another parked car…Local folks need to be able to get around as well. If pulled over on a paved road, please put on flashers. And watch for traffic! If a car is coming, please get well off on to the shoulder or beyond.

Mammals: It has been a great winter for mammal sightings. A Bobcat was seen on Feb 27. The most amazing was probably the Lynx photographed a few weeks ago. They do not regularly inhabit Sax-Zim Bog and there are only a few records from the last 30 years. One visiting birder saw THREE Bobcats together in December (likely mom and 2 kits). Fisher and Marten have been seen, as well as an Ermine at the Welcome Center (though not observed for the last 3 weeks). Muskrat have been VERY COMMON above the ice this winter. They do not store food like Beaver and so are wandering in search of food now. They must have had an exceptional breeding season last summer!. Moose, wolves, deer, Porcupine, and even a Star-nosed Mole out and about above the snow, have all been seen this winter.

Lets all be kind and courteous out there! …to both the birds and other birders.

**Reminder: There have been recent reports of photographers getting way too close to Boreal Owls, causing the bird to flush. Please use restraint and try not to interfere with the daily routine of any owl or other wildlife. In this harsh season of cold and deep snow, these critters NEED to hunt…and rest in order to survive. Stay back and enjoy the show as these owls go about their natural routine. Trust me, it is far more interesting to just have patience and watch their behaviors…and who knows, maybe you’ll capture an unbelievable moment or rarely seen behavior!

 

BIRD & WILDLIFE REPORT for FEBRUARY 23, 2018

Boreal Owls have been popping up in various places in the Bog. Drive slow on backroads early and late in the day. With the snow getting deeper each day, these tiny owls may be finding it harder to catch voles so they may be hunting more in the daytime (**Please read reminder above).

Great Gray Owls continue in several locations…Try CR7 north of Sax Road, Owl Avenue, Nichols Lake Road. Dawn and dusk are always best. Great Grays don’t often appear on bitterly cold (below zero F) days that are windy and sunny. Your best bets are on cloudy, calm, “warm” days (temps in 20s F). Cruise slowly…or look for other photographers who’ve already found one. But remember…When joining other photographer/birders who have already found an owl, don’t drive or move in front of them. They were there first. Ask to join them, or stay respectfully back a ways.

Northern Hawk Owls have been harder to find lately. Check Stone Lake Road and McDavitt Road near the parking pad.

Sharp-tailed Grouse continue at the lek north and east of intersection of Racek Road and CR29/229 (marked on birding map). Amazingly they have been seen “dancing” on this lek all winter! (weather dependant…and early in morning). They are also seen at the feeder at the house just north east of this same intersection. **Watch respectfully from the road…DO NOT WALK OR DRIVE INTO Mr Racek’s DRIVEWAY! Several birders have been seen doing this. We do not want to jeopardize our good standing with Mr. Racek’s amazing tolerance towards birders.

The best way to see a Ruffed Grouse is to stay in the bog until dusk and then scan tops of alder, aspen trees for silhouetted grouse eating buds. They like to feast at this time since their mortal enemy, the Goshawk, is going to bed. Nichols Lake Road, CR7 south of Arkola, Owl Avenue are all good roads to check.

American Three-toed Woodpecker & Black-backed Woodpecker continue at the Warren Nelson Memorial Bog (marked on our birding map). Walk in on the path near the big sign and listen for them as they flake bark off beetle-infested Black Spruce and Tamarack. Keep voices low as you search. Black-backeds have also been seen at two of our other tracts….Wintergreen Bog (must snowshoe in on trail near sign) and East Stone Lake Bog (hike/snowshoe from where road ends). This woodpecker could be anywhere in the Bog this year…It is an irruption year for both species.

Boreal Chickadees have NOT been coming to the Admiral Road feeders this winter. Several have been heard and seen near the feeders though. Gray Jays can be seen near the feeders or along Admiral Road occasionally.

Mary Lou’s feeders on CR444 are always better before lunch time…She continues to host many Evening Grosbeaks and now a regular group of Pine Grosbeaks that are often at the feeder on her backyard arbor. Several guides have also reported Hoary Redpolls here. Don’t forget to park in her driveway please…and DO NOT point binoculars or camera at the house across the street! That is not a birder-friendly location. Also, please DONATE GENEROUSLY to Mary Lou’s efforts (there is a donation box at the entrance to the driveway). She puts in so much of her own money to make this spot a pleasant experience for visiting birders…including a heated port-a-potty!!

Loretta’s FORTY-ONE (!) feeders along Kelsey-Whiteface Road have been hosting a regular flock of Pine Grosbeaks, including many males. They often feed at eye-level. Please DONATE GENEROUSLY to Loretta & Mark’s efforts (there is a donation box at the entrance to the feeder trail). She puts in so much of her own money to make this spot a unique and productive spot for visiting birders/photographers.

The Welcome Center on Owl Avenue is a great place to see Gray Jays and Common Redpolls. There have also been several Hoary Redpolls (male and female) here all winter. **Note that the Welcome Center closes for the season on March 11.

Northern Shrikes have been seen in many places across the Bog. There are a couple more tolerant shrikes that hang out along Stone Lake Road. Usually shrikes fly the instant you step on the brake pedal!

Watch the new feeders on both sides of Arkola just east of Owl Avenue for …anything! They are new and not much has been seen there yet. But this is a historic site for Boreal Chickadee. White-winged Crossbills have been spotted on the road gritting/salting recently.

These species have very rare or non-existant in the Bog recently….Snow Bunting, Rough-legged Hawk, White-winged Crossbill, Snowy Owl. But this could change as birds begin to head north.

Note that Pine Grosbeaks will begin heading north to Canada in the next week or two. They are almost always gone by the second week of March. Redpolls will often linger until late March/early April before heading back to the taiga/tundra. Great Gray Owls are year-round residents but become very hard to find as they start their courtship & nesting in late March/April/May.

**Safe viewing is crucial…Please pull over on shoulder (but not too far so you get stuck!). Don’t park across from another parked car…Local folks need to be able to get around as well. If pulled over on a paved road, please put on flashers. And watch for traffic! If a car is coming, please get well off on to the shoulder or beyond.

Mammals: It has been a great winter for mammal sightings. The most amazing was probably the Lynx photographed a few weeks ago. They do not regularly inhabit Sax-Zim Bog and there are only a few records from the last 30 years. One visiting birder saw THREE Bobcats together in December (likely mom and 2 kits). Fisher and Marten have been seen, as well as an Ermine at the Welcome Center (though not observed for the last 3 weeks). Muskrat have been VERY COMMON above the ice this winter. They do not store food like Beaver and so are wandering in search of food now. They must have had an exceptional breeding season last summer!. Moose, wolves, deer, Porcupine, and even a Star-nosed Mole out and about above the snow, have all been seen this winter.

Lets all be kind and courteous out there! …to both the birds and other birders.

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