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Old Wednesday 14th April 2010, 12:57   #1
tbcash80
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2 days available end of June - where to go ?

All

I am a UK birder with 2 days at the end of June to bird in Minnesota - I am starting from Minneapolis.

If you were starting with a blank piece of paper, what would you do ?

Any thoughts appreciated.

Mark
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Old Thursday 15th April 2010, 06:12   #2
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It may depend a lot on what sorts of things you're really interested in seeing - field birds, vs forest birds vs water birds vs birds of prey. You'd be gravitating towards different habitats, and would have to choose in such a limited time frame.

For checking out what people are currently seeing there are general resources like eBird www.ebird.org and the archives of the MNBIRD mailing list on the internet. The Minnesota Ornithological Union has a web site with seasonal distribution maps - www.moumn.org. Look at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge web site - there are several units along the Minnesota River. MVNWR has a visitor center near the airport where you can get information. There is the Great River Birding Trail web site - www.greatriverbirding.org

There are some big Minnesota guidebooks that are probably way too big for what you need, like the Eckert book. The MVNWR visitor center might have some interesting books, or one of the Wild Birds Unlimited stores.

I usually go in late November, so normally my preferences are geared towards what's around at that time of year, and for places with conifers where the boreal birds might appear. My main daily stop, straight off the airplane and every morning after visiting the coffee shop in all seasons, has always been little Crosby Farm Regional Park - some people go to nearby Fort Snelling State Park instead, but I like Crosby and it's kind of home base for me. I liked Crow-Hassan Park Reserve (far northern suburbs) a lot in early June - it has a lot of edge habitats. Various units of Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge are scattered along the Minnesota River - none are huge favorites for me, but they're easy to get to and they have scheduled tours that you can find out about on the web site or at the visitor center. Murphy-Hanrehan traditionally gets a lot of press, but I've never been a big fan of it - you might want to ask someone who knows more about where things live there before deciding to try it. There are a lot of places to try, and at least you won't have to tangle with deer and hunting season like I do in November. (a gun on every shoulder, a deer on every bumper, and everything covered in blaze orange and camo...)

By late June the mosquitoes and ticks will be out in force, and even biting flies in some areas. You will want to dress for them, which may be difficult in the heat and humidity of late June afternoons. Depends on the weather. You do not want ticks all over you - long pants!
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Old Friday 7th May 2010, 20:12   #3
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Mark

Where to go depends on what you are looking to see. There are some very nice parks in the Minneapolis area that will have resident breeders, but nothing terribly exciting.

Northern MN will have breeding wood warblers on territory and other interesting local species.

A list of the species you are seeking would be helpful.
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Old Saturday 8th May 2010, 02:24   #4
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Where to go depends on what you are looking to see. There are some very nice parks in the Minneapolis area that will have resident breeders, but nothing terribly exciting.
Now now, migrants aren't the only terribly exciting birds. I would be terribly excited to see a marsh full of red-winged blackbirds - they were a fixture of my youth, and I haven't seen them in years. Or some rails - I've never seen a rail before. Owls are always exciting, IMO. I'm always up for sparrows. Wrens, thrushes, etc, etc, etc
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Old Wednesday 12th May 2010, 22:03   #5
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Two places I would recommend in Minneapolis. Wood Lake Nature Center and the Minnesota National Wildlife Refuge. Both will have resident breeders.
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Old Monday 24th May 2010, 08:14   #6
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FYI, the prothonotary warblers are again back at their usual secluded area of Crosby Farm Regional Park, according to the MNBIRD mailing list. I tried to see these one year, and I may even have succeeded but it was too dark to ID or photo the mystery bird...wish I had my digital recorder back then!
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Old Wednesday 26th May 2010, 22:22   #7
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It may depend a lot on what sorts of things you're really interested in seeing - field birds, vs forest birds vs water birds vs birds of prey. You'd be gravitating towards different habitats, and would have to choose in such a limited time frame.

For checking out what people are currently seeing there are general resources like eBird www.ebird.org and the archives of the MNBIRD mailing list on the internet. The Minnesota Ornithological Union has a web site with seasonal distribution maps - www.moumn.org. Look at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge web site - there are several units along the Minnesota River. MVNWR has a visitor center near the airport where you can get information. There is the Great River Birding Trail web site - www.greatriverbirding.org

There are some big Minnesota guidebooks that are probably way too big for what you need, like the Eckert book. The MVNWR visitor center might have some interesting books, or one of the Wild Birds Unlimited stores.

I usually go in late November, so normally my preferences are geared towards what's around at that time of year, and for places with conifers where the boreal birds might appear. My main daily stop, straight off the airplane and every morning after visiting the coffee shop in all seasons, has always been little Crosby Farm Regional Park - some people go to nearby Fort Snelling State Park instead, but I like Crosby and it's kind of home base for me. I liked Crow-Hassan Park Reserve (far northern suburbs) a lot in early June - it has a lot of edge habitats. Various units of Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge are scattered along the Minnesota River - none are huge favorites for me, but they're easy to get to and they have scheduled tours that you can find out about on the web site or at the visitor center. Murphy-Hanrehan traditionally gets a lot of press, but I've never been a big fan of it - you might want to ask someone who knows more about where things live there before deciding to try it. There are a lot of places to try, and at least you won't have to tangle with deer and hunting season like I do in November. (a gun on every shoulder, a deer on every bumper, and everything covered in blaze orange and camo...)

By late June the mosquitoes and ticks will be out in force, and even biting flies in some areas. You will want to dress for them, which may be difficult in the heat and humidity of late June afternoons. Depends on the weather. You do not want ticks all over you - long pants!
I am very grateful for all of your thoughts and have been monitoring the MN mail list - thanks to all the members of that.

Having done a fair bit of US warblers in the past, I think I might do something different and try sparrows/longspurs/prairie-chickens and prairie. Am I right that Felton in Clay County would be the best prairie birding anywhere near Minneapolis or is there somewhere nearer I should be thinking of - I only have 2 days ?

Will it be too late at end of June for prairie-chicken leks ?

I have the Eckert book and am working through it but any help gratefully received.

Many thanks again and regards - Mark
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Old Thursday 27th May 2010, 00:30   #8
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I was under the impression that prairie chickens were more in the northwest part of the state - check out the seasonal occurance maps on www.moumn.org Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge doesn't list them on its checklist.

just found this site: www.prairiechicken.org They seem to point to late spring as viewing time.

One of the most interesting outings I ever did was visiting a prairie restoration site in Nebraska, where you could stand in a sea of grass on rolling hills and see no man-made objects from horizon to horizon. Just wind, grass, sparrows and trees in the creek beds here and there.
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Old Thursday 27th May 2010, 21:29   #9
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Originally Posted by tbcash80 View Post
I am very grateful for all of your thoughts and have been monitoring the MN mail list - thanks to all the members of that.

Having done a fair bit of US warblers in the past, I think I might do something different and try sparrows/longspurs/prairie-chickens and prairie. Am I right that Felton in Clay County would be the best prairie birding anywhere near Minneapolis or is there somewhere nearer I should be thinking of - I only have 2 days ?

Will it be too late at end of June for prairie-chicken leks ?

I have the Eckert book and am working through it but any help gratefully received.

Many thanks again and regards - Mark
Felton Prairie will get you Chestnut-collared Longspur and other Prairie Sparrows - except Brewer's which used to be here, but now is more easily found in North Dakota.

Both Prairie Chicken and Sharp-tailed Grouse quit displaying on Leks at the beginning of May, but you can stumble upon individuals. Rothsay, MN would be the place to find dependable Prairie Chicken post Lek display. It is south and east of Felton, MN and is closer to Minneapolis. You can also find Prairie Sparrows, but not the Chestnut-collared Longspur since Felton Prairie is the only place they breed in the state.

Both locations should get you Marbled Godwit & Upland Sandpiper.

I've guided people to Felton Prairie in the past and it, plus some of the other Nature Conservancy properties always turn up something.

For the record you might want to monitor MOU-NET rather than MNBIRD. MOU-NET has a lot of people subscribed that have a lot of experience in MN.

I am one of the moderators on MOU-NET as well.

You will want to get a hold of a Delorme Map of Minnesota since Kim's book has some small maps that are not always easy to read.

Regards,

Terry
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Old Tuesday 15th June 2010, 21:23   #10
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FYI, the prothonotary warblers are again back at their usual secluded area of Crosby Farm Regional Park, according to the MNBIRD mailing list. I tried to see these one year, and I may even have succeeded but it was too dark to ID or photo the mystery bird...wish I had my digital recorder back then!
I may have a couple of hours to get to Crosby and would love to see the Prothonotary warblers. Are you able to give some directions to where I might look in CFRP ? Thank you.

Mark
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Old Tuesday 15th June 2010, 21:26   #11
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Now now, migrants aren't the only terribly exciting birds. I would be terribly excited to see a marsh full of red-winged blackbirds - they were a fixture of my youth, and I haven't seen them in years. Or some rails - I've never seen a rail before. Owls are always exciting, IMO. I'm always up for sparrows. Wrens, thrushes, etc, etc, etc
I am thinking up to Aitkin/Rice [Or Sax-Zim ??] (full day) via Sherburne (couple of hours) and then back to Minneapolis for flight home. Is that mad ?
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Old Tuesday 15th June 2010, 21:39   #12
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I am thinking up to Aitkin/Rice [Or Sax-Zim ??] (full day) via Sherburne (couple of hours) and then back to Minneapolis for flight home. Is that mad ?
Completely doable. You can be in Aitkin/St. Louis County in about 2 hours 45 minutes from Minneapolis.

Sherburne is definitely worth a few hours in the morning while everything is singing.

By visiting both locations you should see a lot of different species.
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Old Tuesday 15th June 2010, 21:45   #13
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I may have a couple of hours to get to Crosby and would love to see the Prothonotary warblers. Are you able to give some directions to where I might look in CFRP ? Thank you.

Mark
Mark I will PM you the email address of a friend of mine that birds Crosby Park nearly every day. She can tell you exactly where to find the Prothonotary warblers.
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Old Tuesday 15th June 2010, 21:58   #14
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I may have a couple of hours to get to Crosby and would love to see the Prothonotary warblers. Are you able to give some directions to where I might look in CFRP ? Thank you.
IIRC, the mnbird archive mentioned snags off the various organic trails near the southwestern edge of the park, near where the bridge goes over the river. The snags I remember are in some muddy flood channels near the river. (there is a dead-end road on the west end of the park some locals use to access that side - not sure if it's signed since I always start from the east end) They are yearly breeding residents, so an archive of mnbird and maybe mou-net postings would have numerous mentions over the years. I never saw any for sure, myself.
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Old Tuesday 15th June 2010, 22:11   #15
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IIRC, the mnbird archive mentioned snags off the various organic trails near the southwestern edge of the park, near where the bridge goes over the river. The snags I remember are in some muddy flood channels near the river. (there is a dead-end road on the west end of the park some locals use to access that side - not sure if it's signed since I always start from the east end) They are yearly breeding residents, so an archive of mnbird and maybe mou-net postings would have numerous mentions over the years. I never saw any for sure, myself.
Thanks. But what is a 'snag' ? Not a British phrase !?
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Old Tuesday 15th June 2010, 22:15   #16
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A snag is a mostly dead tree or branch. beakgeek's friend can probably give you better info anyway.
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Old Tuesday 15th June 2010, 22:16   #17
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It's a mostly dead tree
Thanks - common language ;-) !!
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Old Saturday 19th June 2010, 00:04   #18
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A few places I go are 1) National Wildlife refuge just south of the Airport. It has a welcome center with bird feeders just outside the windows. You sit inside and watch and photograph hundreds of species not more that 10 feet away from you. Unfortunately, they just brought in some heavy machinery to tear up their walkways around the building yesterday, and it seemed to scare a lot of birds away from the feeders. I'm not sure when they will be done. I've seen Golden Eagles there. There are always hawks and wild turkey around. Driving on 494 it's on the south about 1/2 mile from the terminal 1 exit. There's lots of signs on the freeway. 2) Another place is the Snelling state park. It's just east of the Airport off Hwy 5, the Terminal 2 exit. It $5.00 admission. And it's quite large. It has bird feeders at their information center, the one in the center of the park not the entrance. Two Islands on Mississippi/Minnesota rivers are part of the park with hiking trails along the river bank. You will usually see Great Blue Herons and Egrets on the river bank. One of the natural resources people there gave me directions to an Eagle's nest. But I walked about 6 miles and never found it. Bring a water bottle with you. 3) The Minnesota Zoo in Burnsville seems to have a lot of wild birds hanging around. Egrets and Herons in the Swan pond. And all sorts of wild birds come there. Why? Maybe they want to see a Giraffe and Yak too? 4) If you want to see pigeons drop by and see my bird feeder.
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Old Tuesday 3rd August 2010, 20:38   #19
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So how did it go?
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Old Sunday 8th August 2010, 21:03   #20
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Hi - in football (soccer) parlance it was a game of 2 halves - first half spent in the Minneapolis area was fairly unsuccessful and wet - got very rained on at Crosby Farm and saw little of note I think either there or at Snelling Fort - certainly no prothonotaries which were a bit of a target.

Second half things improved significantly in the Aitkin County area - McGregor, Palisade, southern Sax-Zim - GGOwl, B-b woodpecker, Upland sandpiper and Connecticut warbler to name but a few and some fantastic out of the way places.

Great country. 103 sp.

And thank you to you all for your input in making my 2 days so productive and enjoyable.




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Old Tuesday 10th August 2010, 18:04   #21
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I think I had a close encounter with one of those protonotaries once, but it was too dark at the time to see it. I should have hunted down some recordings at the time to compare to what I heard...
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Old Tuesday 10th August 2010, 20:23   #22
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Hi - in football (soccer) parlance it was a game of 2 halves - first half spent in the Minneapolis area was fairly unsuccessful and wet - got very rained on at Crosby Farm and saw little of note I think either there or at Snelling Fort - certainly no prothonotaries which were a bit of a target.

Second half things improved significantly in the Aitkin County area - McGregor, Palisade, southern Sax-Zim - GGOwl, B-b woodpecker, Upland sandpiper and Connecticut warbler to name but a few and some fantastic out of the way places.

Great country. 103 sp.

And thank you to you all for your input in making my 2 days so productive and enjoyable.
I figured Aitkin would be a good bet. Nice that you were able to see the resident breeding GGOW. Not easy to find.
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