There could not be a better truism … doughnuts are a magical birding good, particularly if you are taking a five year old granddaughter on her first birding expedition. With more and more children growing up in huge urban areas, it is the responsibility of those of us who are fortunate enough to live with easily accessible wilderness to help the next generation learn an appreciation for the natural world.
Mya, one of my four grandchildren, just spent a week with us here on the edge of Duluth. Prior to taking her out birding I had scouted locations which were likely to result in a successful birding expedition both in terms of easily seeing birds, and providing enjoyment for a five year old. The mouth of the Lester River on Lake Superior was just the ticket for Mya and me. I knew birds would be present without much difficulty in terms of access, and we could also always spend time of the stone beach throwing rocks into the lake.
Mya (and me) had a great time. My friendly Merlins perched on dead tree branches where they were easily viewed. In addition, a bird which normally spooks easily, Belted Kingfishers, actually provided us easy views. Finally, on the way home we stopped off at the grocery store and purchased fresh doughnuts. After all … good birding always ends with doughnuts!
Mya and me with doughnuts
One of our Merlins
The Belted Kingfisher
Mya watching a Pileated Woodpecker from our deck after we returned. She is now able to identify between 10 and 15 birds by name in the field!
There has been a nice response to this post. I decided I should expand my approach on some of the ways I am teaching the next generation about birding. The first item is fairly obvious, easily viewable bird feeders. All my grandchildren love watching birds from inside our home. Viewing can be short and enjoyable … 30 Seconds!
In addition, for Christmas last year I was given “Birding Bingo”. This game has become a favorite, and only costs $12 via Amazon. Here is a screenshot. My grandkids don’t care much about winning, but warning … they like to fill the entire board! There are different versions of this game, but I like the one by Lucy Hammett Games … good “local” birds.
The lupine have been blooming for two weeks inland from Lake Superior, but down on the shore the cool waters delay blossoms. Thus, this morning I drive up the shore to a favorite location where I knew the sun would align with the lupine at sunrise. Only for a few days near the Summer equinox does the sun rise directly in line with the shore. I liked the effect!
After my flower power session I moved on to Hawk Ridge. A few weeks ago I have photographed a classic ore boat arriving at Canal Park. I have been watching the shipping schedule and waiting for an early morning arrival. When I took my other ore boat arrival photo, I did not have a tripod. This time, I did it “right” and photographed the Cason J. Callaway as it arrived at Duluth.
Finally, while taking the above photograph, an Indigo Bunting serenaded me. This is said bird!
I’ll end this blog post with a pic taken of my own home. I arrived home at 6:30 am (been out since 4:45 am) as the sun finally dappled into my own yard!
Summer starts tomorrow, but don’t tell the birds at the mouth of the Lester River on Lake Superior. While this birding location is definitely not a hotspot during the winter, come late spring and summer this is a great little spot … and only 1/2 mile from my House!
Given the time of year, I knew merganser chicks should have hatched. However, between Grandma’s Marathon last Saturday (lots of people), and ugly weather since … I knew a trip to the river mouth did not make much sense. However, this morning was sunny and calm … in short a great day for any Common Merganser mom worth her webbed feet to sun the little guys at the mouth of the river. Within seconds of arriving at the river I hit the jackpot. Using some butt scooting and crawling, the duck family let me get within 15 yards, and never spooked. It was a great morning.
The Common Merganser family of Lester River
Ten minutes later … wolfpack on the loose!
Belted Kingfisher gets in on the fishing
This Ring-Billed Gull wanted in on the action
Meanwhile … a hundred yards upstream … aerial combat was joined five seconds after I took this photograph. Four Blue Jays attacked a Merlin’s nest. The jays wanted eggs for breakfast. Three minutes of aerobatics ensued as the Merlins defended their turf.
The Victor and still Champion!
Thanks to a birding report from Jan & Larry K. I learned that a few Dickcissels had been seen on Racek Road in the Bog. Although the last two mornings have been blustery, dark and at times wet, I could not resist the opportunity to see this bird which is rarely seen in northern Minnesota.
Both of the last two days I have seen multiple Dickcissels singing while perched in the bushes just sound of Racek Road (about 400 yards in from Cty 29/229). While visiting the bog, make certain to swing just a little further north and enjoy the Sandhill Cranes which are raising a family in the wildflowers fields just below South Overton Road.
Sandhill Crane … I’ll give you a daisy, a day! Did I mention the wildflowers are blooming in northern Minnesota?!
Dickcissel … Singing in the rain!