Over the past several mornings, I’ve headed down to the Duluth waterfront in search of mud flats. The northeast winds over the past few days means shorebirds which breed up in the Arctic and often winter in the Caribbean or South America are migrating through this area. Quite often my only opportunity to see these rare birds (for me) is in the fall. In the Spring Lake Superior takes a long time to warm up, and it does not as often tend to be a migration stop for northbound shorebirds.
Why Shorebird Roulette? When I only see these birds once every year or two … if even that, making a positive identification can be difficult. Frequently the birds are not in their breeding plumage, and only display their much more drab winter feathers, which often are not as unique from other shorebirds. Thankfully, in addition to my own guides, there are several online virtual communities for this region where various members are very helpful in aiding with my identifications (and helping teach me).
The communities which I find most useful for northeastern Minnesota are:
- Facebook Groups …
- Minnesota Birding
- Northeastern Minnesota Birding Group
- Sax-Zim Bog
- Wisconsin Birding
I would like to call out and thank three individuals who have been very helpful … Andy Forbes, Adam Roesch and Peter Nichols.
This morning found me hiking about one mile in to an abandoned pier, wading through waist high wet grasses in hopes of finding some shorebirds in the fog (dismal morning). On hikes like this morning’s, it is useful to utilize a super zoom camera. Long hikes with bigs camera lenses are not nice. Super Zoom / Bridge Cameras like my Canon SX60 allow me to scramble up banks and wade through undergrowth, etc.
Without further adieu … here are the shorebirds I’ve found over the past few days: Buff-Breasted Sandpiper, Short Billed Dowitcher and Stilt Sandpipers (links are to the Cornell Ornithology Lab … the creator of the range maps)