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Veagle's 2013 List (1 Viewer)


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This past Thursday, I left New Orleans at a little after 4 am for a two hour plus drive to Grand Isle, on the Gulf of Mexico. I spent the entire day birding, and explored parts of two parishes, which for some reason is the name that Louisiana gives to what we in the rest of the country call Counties. Anyway, I headed for a few wooded tracts first to see what kinds of songbirds might be around. Then I explored a State Park on the eastern edge of the Island. After a quick lunch, I went west and wound up meeting another person who had been at the conference I attended, also a fanatic birder, and we spent the rest of the day together. Two sets of eyes and ears better then one. Finished the day trying for Rails. We found numerous Clappers, and thought we might have heard a King once, but not clearly enough to count it. Anyway, here are the new birds for the year:

March 7 - Forchon area, LaFourche Parrish

104. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
105. Blue-winged Teal
106. Tri-colored Heron
107. Snowy Egret
108. American Avocet
109. Dunlin
110. Marbled Godwit
111. Lesser Yellowlegs
112. Long-billed Dowitcher
113. Green-winged Teal
114. Roseate Spoonbill
115. Osprey
116. Northern Shoveler

March 7 - Grand Isle, Jefferson Parrish, LA

117. House Wren
118. Yellow-throated Vireo
119. Pine Warbler
120. Yellow-rumped Warbler
121. Boat-tailed Grackle
122. Gray Catbird
123. Black-and-White Warbler
124. Cattle Egret
125. Little Blue Heron
126. Hermit Thrush
127. Eastern Phoebe
128. Broad-winged Hawk
129. Great Egret
130. Savannah Sparrow
131. Brown Thrasher
132. Pied-billed Grebe
133. White Ibis
134. Palm Warbler
135. Orange-crowned Warbler
136. Caspian Tern
137. Forster's Tern
138. Gull-billed Tern
139. Black-bellied Plover
140. Royal Tern
141. Black Skimmer
142. Sanderling
143. Western Sandpiper
144. Ruddy Turnstone
145. Least Tern
146. Short-billed Dowitcher
147. Common Loon
148. Blu-gray Gnatcatcher
149. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
150. Seaside Sparrow
151. Clapper Rail


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My last day in Louisiana was really the day I was focusing on, trying to find 4 new birds. I got some good suggestions from an LSU grad student, and they were spot-on. We crossed Lake Ponchatraine on the Causeway (which is something like 26 miles long) in the pre-dawn dark, and headed for Big Branch NWR, where there are Pine Forests. The morning was a total success, with sightings of Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Bachman's Sparrow, and Henslow's Sparrow, the last of these at another location a bit further north. We were back across the lack by 12:30, had a quick lunch, then I was off to the airport, for my trip home.

March 8 - St. Tammany Parrish, LA

152. Red-cockaded Woodpecker
153. Sedge Wren
154. Brown-headed Nuthatch
155. Eastern Bluebird
156. Common Yellowthroat
157. Swamp Sparrow
158. Chipping Sparrow
159. Fish Crow
160. Eastern Towhee
161. Red-headed Woodpecker
162. Bachman's Sparrow
163. Henslow's Sparrow


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Always a good day when you spot your first Mountain Bluebird of the year.

March 15 - Rapid City, SD

164. Mountain Bluebird


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Quite an adventure today. I wanted to go out to Pierre for some good birds, and we had several inches of snow last night. But because the weather was supposed to improve today, I got up early and was out the door before 5 am, for what I thought would be a 2.5 hour ride. Well, the Interstate was in bad condition, and I almost turned around several times, but I persevered, and it was well worth it. A nice first year Iceland Gull, a new state bird, and a female Purple Finch, a new lower 48 bird. And a couple of others as well. Fortunately, it did warm up, and the drive home was no sweat.

March 17 - Stanley County, SD

165. Purple Finch

March 17 - Hughes County, SD

166. California Gull
167. Prairie Falcon
168. Cackling Goose
169. Greater White-fronted Goose


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I am not able to bird for a while, recovering from a surgical repair to my right knee. Anyway, in reviewing my records for my trip to Minnesota in February, I neglected what was proabably the most notable bird seen on the trip, with the possible exception of the multiple Boreal Owls. The following are Chris Wood's notes on this bird:

***Mega for this date and location.

We stopped here to check some of the ducks in the bay. While scanning with my binoculars, I saw a distant bird flying in a flight style that reminded me of a kittiwake. I quickly grabbed my scope to look and realized that it was, in fact, an adult Black-legged Kittiwake. Much smaller, with more slender wings than nearby Herring Gulls that were seen in flight in direct comparison. Upperwing appeared two toned with mantle and wing coverts contrasting darker gray than whiter flight feathers. Tips of outer primaries appeared black (could not see any white on tips). Head, body and tail mostly white except for gray wash on nape and darker vertical smudge behind eye. Black legs. Yellowish bill.

Biggest confusion species probably Ring-billed Gull (also rare here in winter), but that species has different head pattern, black ring around bill, white mirrors on wingtips -- second year perhaps more similar without white mirrors, but usually with some dark markings on wing coverts and often on tail. At that age, outer primaries even more extensively dark, unlike the very limited black tips on this bird (making it appear that the wing tip had been dipped in black ink). 2nd year RBGU also shows dark extensive ring on bill. Red-legged Kittiwake (all but impossible) would have darker mantle and upperwings without as much contrast between mantle and flight feathers; red legs. No other species similar.

The bird was about 0.6 miles away (measured with draftlogic.com). State bird for CLW and the first that he has seen on the Great Lakes away from Lake Ontario. Unfortunately, the bird disappeared behind the point near lighthouse point after about a minute and I believe only Dick Latuchie was able to get scope views of the bird. I sent a text message out but no one saw it later that day. Kim Risen reported the bird from Two Harbors again

According to Peder Svingen and Bruce Fall, there had only been one adult Black-legged Kittiwake ever reported from Minnesota, which was found and photographed by Jan and Larry Kraemer at Canal Park in Duluth (eBird: S12180697). While tempting to assume that this is the same bird, I'm not sure there is much evidence for that beyond the lack of previous records. Some 60 days had passed since that sighting, so one could make strong arguments either way. I did get a note from Nick Anich in Wisconsin who said: "We've had adult Kittiwakes up here before, although obviously not as common as imm. birds. This bird was one of THREE several years ago, with a link to Ryan Brady's photos: http://www.pbase.com/rbrady/image/131002587"

February 3 - Two Harbors, Minnesota

170. Black-legged Kittiwake B :)


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Yesterday morning, I drove out to Butte County, looking for Greater Sage-Grouse, in an area close to the Wyoming border, one of the few places in South Dakota for this species. Having seen them 2 and 3 years ago, I knew where to go, and sure enough, there was a displaying male on the lek, but strangely no females around. Other highlights were a Horned Grebe at the Belle Fourche Reservoir, and a late Northern Shrike.

Later in the day, we spotted our first Turkey Vultures of the year for us in South Dakota, right on time.

March 30 - Butte County, SD

171. Greater Sage-Grouse
172. Canvasback
173. Horned Grebe
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This morning, I went out looking for Bohemian Waxwing or Evening Grosbeak. Didn't find either, but a nice Pygmy Nuthatch was a good consolation prize.

March 31 - Pennington County, SD

174. Pygmy Nuthatch


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A quick trip out Lower Spring Creek yielded my first group of Sandhills of the year - 39 total.

April 6 - Pennington County, SD

175. Sandhill Crane


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A really nice morning in Eastern Pennington County. It was overcast and cold most of the morning, but some nice birds seen, including a group of about 300 Sandhills at Quinn Lake, 3 Long-billed Curlews, and a few Shorebirds as well.

April 7 - Eastern Pennington County

176. Say's Phoebe
177. Eared Grebe
178. American White Pelican
179. Greater Yellowlegs
180. Ruddy Duck
181. Long-billed Curlew


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Nice morning. I went over to Canyon Lake to see a Horned Grebe that has been there for a while, but I haven't had the chance to see it. It was a new County bird for me, which is getting harder and harder to find. Also saw my first Western Grebe of the year.

And I have to mention that yesterday afternoon, we were treated to an amazing spectacle. For about 40 minutes, we were able to watch wave after wave of Sandhill Cranes, heading northeast at very high altitude. There had to be at least 10,000. possibly many more.

April 20 - Canyon Lake, SD

182. Western Grebe


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I went on a business trip to Sioux Falls on the eastern edge of South Dakota. On my way across the state, I stopped briefly at Red Lake, in Brule County, where I saw my first Franklin's Gulls of the year. On Friday, once the meeting was over, I spent some time at a few spots just west of Sioux Falls. The best highlight was a male Mountain Bluebird, which is quite common here in western South Dakota, but very rarely seen in the eastern part of the state. And I added some nice spring arrivals, as well.

April 24 - Red Lake, Brule County, SD

183. Franklin's Gull

April 26 - Minnehaha County, SD

184. Barn Swallow
185. Tree Swallow
186. Swainson's Hawk
187. Snow Goose
188. Ross's Goose
189. Baird's Sandpiper

April 26 - McCook County, SD
190. White-faced Ibis
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Went looking in Custer State Park. Very quiet, so I changed plans, and the day ended well, with some new year birds, after going out Lower Spring Creek Rd.

April 28 - Custer County, SD

191. Vesper Sparrow
192. Swainson's Thrush
193. Burrowing Owl
194. Loggerhead Thrush

April 28 - Pennington County, SD

195. Yellow-headed Blackbird
196. American Pipit


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On my way to the SD Birding Festival in Pickstown, SD, I stopped in Brule County after getting a tip that a Neotropical Cormorant had been seen recently. Couldn't find it, but came up with a number of new birds for the year. We have had very little moisture this year in Western SD, so there have been relatively few shorebirds.

That evening, I was finally able to hear an Eastern Screech-Owl, a new State Bird for me.

May 3 - Torrey Lake, SD

197. Wilson's Phalarope
198. Semipalmated Sandpiper
199. Spotted Sandpiper

May 3 - Pickstown, SD

200. Eastern Screech-Owl


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The South Dakota Bird Festival in Pickstown. My second trip to this festival, the birds were great, although the weather left a lot to be desired. Highlights this first day included 5 Black-crowned Night-Herons, an Indigo Bunting, hundreds of Long-billed Dowitchers, 21 Whtie-faced Ibis, a beautiful Indigo Bunting, and my second state bird of the trip, a Palm Warbler.

May 4 - Lake Andes NWR, Charles Mix County, SD

201. Semipalmated Sandpiper
202. Indigo Bunting
203. Yellow Warbler
204. Peregrine Falcon
205. Black-crowned Night-Heron
206. Clark's Grebe
207. Lincoln's Sparrow
208. Upland Sandpiper
209. White-crowned Sparrow
210. Field Sparrow
211. Pectoral Sandpiper
212. Clay-colored Sparrow
213. White-rumped Sandpiper
214. Willet
215. Bonaparte's Gull
216. Least Sandpiper


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On the second day of the festival, we went to the Karl Mundt NWR. It was not particularly birdy, but there were a few year birds, including a pair of Grosbeaks at the feeders at the Ranger's home.

Then I stopped again in Brule County to look for the Cormorant. After searching for about an hour, I found it, clearly seeing the white lining around the gular pouch. This was my 300th South Dakota species, which I have been pointing toward for quite a while. The icing on the cake was that this is a rare species for SD.

May 4 - Gregory County, SD

217. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
218. Spotted Towhee
219. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
220. Black-headed Grosbeak

May 4 - Torrey Lake, Brule County

221. Neotropic Cormorant B :)


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Took a drive out to an old favorite place, Sevey Lake. It has not been much this spring, with the lake almost completely dry, but I did have a few Brewer's Blackbirds

May 7 - Sevey Lake, SD

222. Brewer's Blackbird


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My daughter was in town for a surprise visit to my wife for Mother's Day, and we took a drive out to Hammerquist Rd. late afternoon. It was a nice hour, with the highlights including some Wilson's Snipe, a Lark Bunting, and an Eastern Bluebird.

May 11- Hammerquist Rd., Pennington County, SD

223. Lark Sparrow


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After taking Alyssa to the airport this morning, I drove around the New Underwood loop drive through some nice short-grass prairie habitat. A little more moisture than we've been seeing, a nice triad of new birds. Then I went back to Jackson Park, where I had a new county bird yesterday, the Palm Warbler. Today, I looked unsuccessfully for a Northern Waterthrush, but I was albe to see a Blackpoll Warbler, new for the Year, and the County.

May 12 - Pennington County, SD

224. Lark Bunting
225. Chestnut-collared Longspur
226. Grasshopper Sparrow
227. Blackpoll Warbler


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On my way to the Spring meeting of the SD Ornithologists' Union in Mobridge. Not only have I never birded in the area, I have never been in the area at all, so I am looking forward to it. Hoping to get some new Warblers on my state list, and since it has been so dry in the western part of South Dakota this spring, I have not seen too many shorebirds yet.

On the way, I found both Kingbirds.

May 17 - Meade County, SD

228. Eastern Kingbird
229. Western Kingbird


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The first full day of the SDOU Meeting began in the parking lot of the hotel, where I spied a Purple Marting in Flight. The morning was spent at Hiddenwood Lake State Park, which was very nice. Highlights included Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart and Magnolia, Cape May, Blackpoll, Orange-Crowned, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Black-and-White, Tennessee, and Golden-winged (Lifer) Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher, and Chimney Swift

May 18 - Mobridge, SD

230. Purple Martin

May 18 - Lake Hiddenwood State Park, Walworth County, SD

231. Willow Flycatcher
232. Orchard Oriole
233. Baltimore Oriole
234. Great Crested Flycatcher
235. Tennessee Warbler
236. American Redstart
237. Olive-sided Flycatcher
238. Golden-winged Warbler
239. Least Flycatcher
240. Warbling Vireo
241. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
242. Red-eyed Vireo
243. Harris's Sparrow
244. Magnolia Warbler (State Bird)
245. Cape May Warbler (State Bird)
246. Chimney Swift
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