BRRRRdathon: World’s Coldest Birdathon Results
Matti Erpestad and Andrew Webster (right) compete in the WinterGreen non-motorized division. Their team name, Grosbeaks of Evening, was the inspiration for Andrew’s beaked helmet and black and yellow garb. They cycled over 20 miles on fat bikes in the city of Duluth.
Minus 30 F air temps…FINALLY! Yes, the 2017 BRRRRdathon finally lived up to its slogan as the World’s Coldest Birdathon with Friday morning air temps ranging from Minus-16 in Duluth to Minus-35 in parts of the interior of northeast Minnesota. But this did not daunt the eight teams competing to get their names forever emblazoned on the “Gary the Granite Great Gray” trophy. Saturday was much nicer!
Scouring the North Woods from Grand Rapids to Otter Tail to Superior, and from Sax-Zim to Grand Marais to Duluth, the teams found a combined 73 species.
Highlights included Great Black-backed Gull in Two Harbors, 4 Snowy Owls in Superior, WI, Spruce Grouse on Lake County 2 at Sand River, Black-backed Woodpecker just up the road from the Spruce Grouse), 3 Peregrine Falcons in Duluth, Varied Thrush among the 100 or so Robins at WLSSD, Song Sparrow in Grand Rapids.
Steve Millard racked up 42 species inn Otter Tail County (NOT a made up name!) over two days and found some stellar species including an Eastern Towhee, Belted Kingfisher, Eurasian Collared-Dove, American Coot, Richardson’s Merlin and an unexpected Northern Saw-whet Owl eating a mouse atop a grain elevator!
Judd Brink had a Great Gray Owl on his birdathon day in Aitkin County, and there were 4 others seen in Sax-Zim (2 on McDavitt, 1 on Nichols Lake Road and 1 on CR7 N of Sax Road).
For the 6th time in 7 years, team Grousing Twitchers (Lars Benson, Dave Benson, John Ellis) won the 2-day BRRRRdathon with a grand total of 52 species including a Horned Grebe, and 60 Red Crossbills on McDavitt Road.
In the 1-day competition, the Coldfinches evened their rivalry with the Egretables 3 to 3 with a 32-species effort. The Egretables found some iconic but hard to find boreal species in Lake County, MN including Boreal Chickadee, Spruce Grouse and Black-backed Woodpecker.
Only non-motorized locomotion is allowed in the WinterGreen division, and longtime teammates Tim Bates and Andrew Webster fielded rival teams and chose different states to participate. Andrew’s Grosbeaks of the Evening team in Duluth found 32 species including 3 Peregrines while on fat bikes. Tim’s Sixteen Below team used mountain bike in the backroads of Superior Wisconsin and counted 23 species including FOUR Snowy Owls.
52 species—Grousing Twitchers (Lars Benson, Dave Benson, John Ellis)
42 species—Otter Tail (Steve Millard)
22 species—The Full Nesters (Cara and Steve Cox)
32 species—Coldfinches (Barb Akre, Cindy Edwardson, Chris Edwardson, David Helff)
26 species—The Egretables (Annmarie Geniusz, David Alexander, Steven Bochold)
14 species—Aitkin County (Judd Brink)
32 species—Grosbeaks of the Evening (Andrew Webster, Matti Erpestad)
23 species—Sixteen Below (Tim Bates, Pat Kohlin)
Andrew Webster of Team Grosbeaks of the Evening sports the beak and colors of their team name.
Tim Bates (left) and Pat Kohlin did their 1-day effort in Superior Wisconsin…on Friday when it was Minus-16F at their start! Kudos to these guys for mountain biking on the back roads of Superior…and surviving!
Biking all day in the cold can make one a bit cuckoo
Lots of conversation and many stories at our lasagna dinner compilation
The Great Gray Owl that Judd Brink tallied in Aitkin County, Minnesota.
Sharp-tailed Grouse in Sax-Zim Bog (photo by David Helf)
The Coldfinches found this Great Gray Owl along Nichols Lake Road
Scanning Lake Superior for lingering water birds
Team Egretables help a Sax-Zim visitor pull their car out of the ditch.
Cindy and Chris Edwardson of Team Coldfinches bird a lonely road in Sax-Zim Bog.
Gray Jay along Admiral Road
The Egretables…L-R Stephen Bockhold, David Alexander, Annmarie Geniusz
2-day Winners of Team Grousing Twitchers, Lars Benson and his dad, Dave Benson (John Ellis not pictured)
Cara and Steve Cox were second-time participants. Their team name is The Full Nesters (3-kids and one on the way!). Congrats to all!
SEE YOU NEXT YEAR! Tentative date is January 12-13, 2018