[mou] Duluth: Sabines Gull, Whimberel, scoters (long)

Steve Weston sweston2 at comcast.net
Sun Oct 7 20:45:30 EDT 2007

Duluth, Park Point, Saturday 10/6

Sabines Gull: about 2pm on the beach by the airport
Whimberel:  on the beach further out
Surf Scoters: about 15, 2 males in breeding plumage in the harbor, before 
the rowing club
Black Scoters: one in same group
Barrows Goldeneye: by rowing club

I awoke this morning, rolled over, and tried to remember the accident.  I 
had gotten up yesterday about 3am in the morning. Jumped out of bed, 
showered and realized that I had an hour before I had to start getting ready 
for the pelagic trip.  I went back to bed and again got up before the alarm.

The trip had been easy getting out of the cities, but the last quarter of 
the trip was through fog. But, even though slowed I got there safely in 
time.  The trip home was even foggier and dark, and I was almost nodding 
off.  But, I arrived home in one piece.   Although I don't remember much of 
the trip, that was not why I was hurting this morning.

Perhaps, it was when the wave hit the boat.  I was standing by a rail in the 
back of the boat.  When the wave hit, I jumped up on the rail.  When I came 
down, I was standing in at four inches of water and regretting that I had 
decided not to wear wool socks.  Next time I would do that differently. 
Although that was the adreneline rush of the trip, I did not feel sore when 
we debarked (or disembarked).  The trip had been enjoyable.  I missed the 
White-winged Scoters, but saw the Caspian Tern and the Bonapart's Gulls. 
The best bird of the trip could have been an Arctic Tern, but no one saw it 
well enough to make the difficult ID.  There had been other oportunities to 
get wet, but the birds had for the most part not been cooperative.

After lunch and warming my wet feet, I headed back out Park Point.  The 
first stop, marked by a birder peering through his scope, was at the first 
opening in the houses along the bay.  The large flock of ducks included 
seven species.  The most numerous were Greater Scaup and Surf Scoters.  The 
fifteen or so Surf Scoters included two males in formal breeding plumage. 
If I found nothing else, that made the trip.  There was also a Black Scoter. 
One of the other birders claimed to see a male White-winged Scoter in 
breeding plumage, but I concluded it was one of the Surf Scoters,  which on 
one side had somewhat more faded features.

The next stop by the rowing club marked by even more scopes.  they were 
focused on two goldeneyes.  One of which was a Barrows in indistinct eclipse 
plumage.  You could barely see the crescent on its face, but the beek and 
head shape were distinctly different.  The woods in the marsh point by the 
rowing club were quite birdy.  I found five different sparrows, an 
Orange-crowned Warbler, a second warbler that was sulking in the bushes that 
had a bright yellow underside, several Brown Creepers, and other birds.  I 
could have gone deeper in and found more passerines, but birds I hoped to 
find that day would not be here.  Before I got back into the car, a 
black-crowned Nightheron flew overhead.

I drove out to the end of the road and headed over the dune with my scope 
and binoculars.  Looking down the beach, I could see shorebirds and decided 
to hike all the way down the beach to the shiping channel.  I finally 
reached the flock of shorebirds, which included about 55 Sanderlings and 3 
Dunlins.  Looking back toward town, I could see a large group of bird 
watches focused on something.  I headed back.  I kept looking around because 
they seemed to be studying something out my way.  When I got to about 50 
yards from them they signalled for me to stop.  Mid-way between us was a 
Sabines Gull sitting in the sand.  I went back over the dune and fetched my 
camera.  The immature gull was very accomodating as it flew all around us. I 
got several great shots, which I will post later on the web.  A young birder 
was counting his findings for the day.  It was about 2pm and he already had 
50 species, including 5 lifers, including this amazing Sabines.  I finished 
the day with slightly more than that.

I now continued on my journey out along the beach.  The crashing waves and 
gray skyes reminded me of the coasts of Oregon and Washington.  Walking in 
the soft sand, you had to keep one eye on the waves, which occassionally 
washed right up to the grass.  I found and photographed a Whimberel, several 
black-bellied Plovers, Pipits, Lapland Longspurs, and a female Rusty 
Blackbird.  By the time I reached the shipping channel, I was exhausted, my 
gear was wet from the spray, it was beginning to rain, and getting darker 
and closer to sundown.   I headed back rarely pausing.  I found hundreds of 
Juncos and large numbers of Red-breasted Nuthatches, along with other birds 
along the trail.

I reached my truck before nightfall totally spent, hungry, and sore.  Now I 
realize, there was no accident.  I am just suffering the aches and pains of 
day of extream birdwatching.  Hopefully by tomorrow, I will be recovered 
from this birdy day.

Today I did not leave home.  Birds in the backyard included a Tennessee 
Warbler, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, a Belted Kingfisher, and a one eyed House 

Steve Weston on Quiggley Lake in Eagan, MN
sweston2 at comcast.net


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