Duck, Duck, Lots of Ducks!
Though balmy winter temps in the low 30s didn’t put much “BRRRR” in the birdathon, 29 humans and 1 dog went birding anyway and found 68 species in the 11th annual event. Teams scoured and scanned fields, forests, feeders and dumps from Crow Wing Counties in the south to Grand Marais in the north. They also birded Sax-Zim, Duluth, Aitkin County, Two Harbors and remote parts of Lake County. Records were set in every category this year!
Team Grousing Twitchers (Lars Benson and John Ellis) won the 1-Day event with the most number of species (48) and points (91) ever recorded in this category. They birded from 4am until sunset and covered Sax-Zim Bog, Duluth, and Two Harbors.
In the 2-Day event, Team Minnesota Birding Weekends racked up 43 species and a new record 95 points. Frank Nicoletti and Dave Benson led a group of birders from Grand Marais to Two Harbors, Duluth and Sax-Zim.
Not to be outdone just because they used non-motorized locomotion, Team Dueling Raptors found an impressive 28 species from their bikes, and that totaled a record-breaking 45 points. Team members Tim Bates, Hannah Toutonghi and Deanna Erickson biked all around the Duluth area and harbor.
Avian highlights included Canada Goose (rare in Minnesota in winter), Ring-necked Duck, Harlequin Duck (Two Harbors), King Eider (Grand Marais), Bufflehead, Iceland Gull, Great Black-backed Gull (Duluth), California Gull (Duluth), Northern Hawk Owl (Sax-Zim), Great Gray Owl (Lake County), Black-backed Woodpecker (Sax-Zim), Black-billed Magpie away from Sax-Zim (Duluth), Boreal Chickadee (Sax-Zim), Bohemian Waxwings (Grand Marais), Hoary Redpoll (Sax-Zim). Team Dueling Raptors had an incredible experience watching a Peregrine Falcon, Bald Eagle and Red-tailed Hawk fighting in mid air over a dead starling!
WINTERGREEN-non-motorized—Team Dueling Raptors (Tim Bates, Hannah Toutonghi, Deanna Erickson) [28 spp/45 pts]; Team Don’t Scaup Believing (Steve Nelson, Allisa) [27 spp/40 pts]; Team Birds & Brews (Josh Bailly, Jeff Davis, Eric G) [20 spp/35 pts]; Team Red-biked KingTwitcher (Sparky Stensaas) [17 spp/27 pts]; Team Phat Boids (Bryan French, Pat Kohlin, Matti Erpestad) [14 spp/25 pts]; Team Fat Chickadees (Mark and Abby) [14 pts]; Team Frost Flicker (Andrew Webster) [11spp].
ONE-DAY BRRRRdathon—Team Grousing Twitchers (Lars Benson, John Ellis) [48 spp/91 pts]; Team Lou & the Brown-eyed Creepers (Lori Williams, Dave Steininger & Lou the Dog) [22 spp/35 pts]; Mark & Linda Seifert [21 spp/32 pts]
TWO-DAY BRRRRdathon—Team Minnesota Birding Weekends (Dave Benson, Frank Nicoletti & participants) [43 spp/95 pts]; Team Saw-what? (Brooke Wetmore, Danielle Tikalsky, Lexi Bruno) [27 spp/37 pts]; and participating outside the official “playing field” in Ottertail County, Team Common Olden guys (Steve & Diane Millard) [32 spp]
Thanks to all! See you next January!