Tag Archives: Minnesota Point

Migrating North on the South Wind

The shorebirds invasion continues! Earlier this week we had ugly weather. Winds out of the south pushed migrants up to Lake Superior, where they flew into strong NE winds coming down the lake. The shorebirds took the logical approach and stopped on Park Point. Only a foolish bird would continue north into a fierce north wind.
I enjoyed more time with Dunlins, Sanderlings, and Ruddy Turnstones. In addition some gulls which were working their way up to Northern Manitoba stopped by … Caspian Terns and Bonaparte’s Gulls. What I find amazing is most of these birds only spend about a month on their breeding grounds in the Arctic, and then they start their migration south.

A Flock of Dunlins

Caspian Terns and Bonaparte Gulls

Unexpected Pleasures: Auroras and Shorebirds

Two days ago I blogged about Gas Station Cuisine, and failed excursions. The forecast for Northern Lights was a G2 Storm Watch, and I also included a birding trip to a nest I had been monitoring. Everything was a failure. Lady Aurora did not dance, and my nest was empty.

Last night when I went to bed, the weather forecast was for clouds plus light rain … and obviously no Aurora Borealis. Waking up at 1:15 am I was surprised to see stars (i.e. clear skies) and numbers from NOAA indicating the Northern Lights might shine. By 1:30 am I was out the door, and by 2:00 am I was standing in the Knife River (water temperature 40F) with the “green glow” beginning to build. At 3:00 am I capture this image … “Dipping into the Green Glow”!

Returning home the expected clouds. wind and cold weather (39F) came by sunrise. Thus, birding looked bleak. By early afternoon the winds were blowing off the lake at 28 mph with light rain and sleet … in sort perfect birding weather!!! I drove down to the end of Park Point, and walked the sand dunes over to the Lake Superior shore. Waves were crashing ashore, but I also found hundreds of shorebirds migrating up to the Arctic. One wonders why these birds don’t just hang in northern Minnesota. It’s plenty cold enough! For 45 minutes I walked the beaches dancing away from the waves till the sleet became unbearable. Here are a few photographs from my horrible day of birding. I was particularly pleased with the flight shot … it was dark … horrible camera conditions.

The moral of the story … expect the unexpected. Two days ago I was set up for what I expected would be a great 24 hours in the Northwoods. It wasn’t. Starting with last night, I expected nothing and had some great experiences!

Ruddy Turnstones

Dunlin

Running the Gauntlet … Hudson Bay Bound

The weather is ugly! The route to Hudson Bay through Duluth is even worse!

Yup, the rains have come over the past few days, and the  recreation fields at the end of Park Point have been turned into mud flats. The shore birds on their way up to Hudson’s Bay and points north love the food opportunities on these new mud flats to reload, rest and feed. There is one big problem for the shorebirds and all the song birds migration through the Duluth area … Merlins!

Park Point Playing Fields
Marbled Godwit and Dunlins

Back on the Home Front … Amity Creek
Eastern Towhee, Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks, American Tree Sparrow, White-Throated Sparrow and Blue Jays

At one point this afternoon, I had 40+ Blue Jays in the yard!

One of Many Merlins Tracking the Migration … Songbirds Beware!