Although reports from the
Still, the promise of UP regulars such as Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee and Sharp-tailed Grouse was too strong a temptation for our group, and thus nine of us set out for two full days of birding the eastern end of the
Our first birding stop was at a residence in
We assembled on Saturday at 8 AM and headed off for our first stop, the power plant of Gyrfalcon fame. Unfortunately, the Soo gyr has not been seen in recent years, and this year has been no exception. We still were treated to fine looks at Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser and a female Red-breasted Merganser with a bill deformity, as well as Bald Eagles, both an adult and a juvenile. Our exploration of the back roads south of the Soo resulted in great looks at Sharp-tailed Grouse, Snow Buntings, Common Ravens, and Rough-legged Hawks, as well as a pair of red foxes. A trip to the Dafter Dump added Glaucous and Herring Gull to our list, as well as one of the highest concentrations of ravens in one place most of us had ever seen. Oh, and yet another Bald Eagle – we would end up seeing Bald Eagles every day of the trip. A house near the dump featured good feeders, and an opportunity to have excellent views of Pine Grosbeaks. Later in the afternoon, another house with a good feeder added an experience no trip to the UP is complete without – getting stuck in the snow on the side of the road! Fortunately, the homeowner was able to haul out the unlucky vehicle with his truck. His feeders also gave us the first Common Redpolls of the trip, and a dark morph Rough-legged Hawk was observed in the distance.
Much of the day was spent observing mainly empty feeders, a testament to the lack of birds in the Soo this winter. Even the famed feeders at the
Juvenile Golden Eagle
The main destination on Sunday was Hulbert Bog for boreal birds, with the rest of the day up for grabs. On the way to Hulbert, we happened across a juvenile Golden Eagle, which is a winter rarity for the UP. At Hulbert, we stopped at one house with good feeders to examine a large flock of redpolls, hoping for the Hoary Redpolls that had been reported at Hulbert Bog on eBird. Our study of the redpolls was cut short when the irate homeowner decided to hurry us along by firing off warning shots from a rifle. We prudently decided that since the birds had all scattered from the rifle shots, we’d best be moving along ourselves. This may mark a first for the Avids in terms of being asked to move along.
Boreal Chickadee, Hulbert Bog
Gray Jay, Hulbert Bog
Although the birding wasn’t up to the standards of a normal Soo winter, the trip was still a success, with nearly everyone adding at least one life bird to their lists. Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, Pine Grosbeak, Snow Bunting, Rough-legged Hawk, Glaucous Gull, and Sharp-tailed Grouse were all life birds for members of our group. (Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee and Sharp-tailed Grouse were my lifers, while I also added several birds to my year list and Michigan life list) A total of 28 species for the UP, and 40 for