Thursday, January 29, 2015

Week FOUR: Steady as She Goes

I'm just coasting along in the doldrums of winter, steady as she goes...

American Tree Sparrow
I concluded the third week of 2015 with an impromptu trip to Douglas County to see the Common Eider that was originally found in Minnesota waters on November 14, 2014. It recently moved over to Wisconsin when Canal Park in Duluth froze. From discussions I've seen on the web, this bird is apparently the Pacific subspecies. Dan Tallman gives a decent synopsis on the subspecies consideration for this bird and the assumptions on how this bird came to find itself on Lake Superior. It's rather an ugly duckling, but a world and Wisconsin state lifer for me nonetheless.  I met my friend Tom in Rice Lake and we drove to Superior to watch this bird at obliging distances while it fished for mussels.

On our way out of Superior, WI, we happen to be passing the Richard Bong Airport where several Snowy Owls have been reported. There are reportedly at least 10 Snowy Owls in Superior this winter. We eventually found one perched atop Menard's across from the airport. All the Snowy Owls in Superior get tagged and bastardized with black shoe polish which ruins any aspirations for getting quality images. However this was my first of the year Snowy Owl which gave it certain coolness factor. I'm curious what the person who paints these birds each year has learned from his research? I can't help thinking blackened Snowies have trouble getting dates.

Heading south from Superior I spotted this Porcupine next to Hwy 35 taking a snooze.

Making our way further south we visited Burnett County where I made a fourth effort at tromping around in the blown down spruce-tamarack bog in search an American Three-toed Woodpecker that has been inconsistently reported near Danbury, WI. I said I wasn't going to do that again! I've now totalled 11+ hours searching for this bird without success. However, it was an enjoyable time with one of my favorite birding companions.

Week three was also highlighted by this Merlin found at Jefferson Marsh in my home county of the same name. This species proved to be a nemesis for me last year in Jefferson County so I felt obliged to capture this crappy token image. It seems that's how it goes. The bird that alludes you in one year is often seen quite readily the next.

"Well here we go again, you've found yourself a friend that knows you well
But no matter what you do, it always feels as though you tripped and fell
So steady as she goes"
The Raconteurs

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