Pagami Creek Wildfire / Tomahawk Road Birding

Not the usual suspects!

After days of fog, rain and wind, the forecast seemed to indicate that sun would arrive in northern Minnesota. With faith in the weatherman, I drove north from Duluth at 5:30 am under cloudy skies and lingering fog. My goal was the Pagami Creed Wildfire burn area, which is a bit north of Isabella, Minnesota. One uses Tomahawk Road, an 18 mile long dirt logging road (detailed directions: see last December’s post), to enter the wilderness. While some folks may regard forests fires as a blight on the beauty of the outdoors, without these burns our forests would not regenerate and become more hospitable to all kinds of wildlife. I know from experience that Black Backed Woodpeckers love burned out areas, but today not a woodpecker was to be found near Isabella Lake. Even better, the weather forecast had been correct. When I approached the forest fire area the morning clouds burned off and I was left with crystal blue skies!

Upon nearing the Isabella River I struck pay dirt in terms of birds! A strange bird was crying out … at least for me. Using my bird app on my smartphone, I quickly discovered I was hearing a Wilson’s Snipe. One very nice think about bird apps is they have recorded sounds of most birds. Once I determined I was hearing a Wilson’s Snipe, I found an area with several calling and used my app to sing along (iBird Pro). Better yet, I did not even have an accent! iBird Pro North America even tells one where the bird recording was taken. In my case,  I was projecting a Wilson’s Snipe recorded in Minnesota. No southern accent for me! After 20 minutes I managed to pull the snipes in closer and enjoyed a nice photography session. The snipes seemed to like the burned out wood piles just across the Isabella River bridge.

The area was teeming with warblers and other birds, but they were not my focus. However, on the way back to hwy #1 while in the mature pine forest area (not the burned out zone), I stumbled across an evening grosbeak couple!

Thus, while normally I hope to see black backed woodpeckers and spruce grouse, even though I was shut out on those birds, it was a rewarding morning!

Wilson’s Snipe Singing

Wilson’s Snipe Perched on a Burned Out Log

Wilson’s Snipe Photographs
Y3-M06-Pagami-Creek-Wildfire-Wilsons-Snipe-1-Singing Y3-M06-Pagami-Creek-Wildfire-Wilsons-Snipe-3-Singing


Evening Grosbeak (male)


Cedar Waxwing

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