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  • Writer's pictureGregg Severson

Climb for a Killdeer

Updated: Apr 21, 2019

On March 23, birders in Minnesota were anticipating a wave of migrating waterfowl. My friend Pete Nichols noticed that weather conditions would be perfect for early waterfowl to be heading north - a nice clear day with a south wind at the right time of year. He organized a bunch of people to head to a good skywatching spot in Washington County and spend the day watching birds migrate overhead. I wish that I could have made it out there, but it would have been a very long bike ride, and I had a broomball tournament that day. So, I decided to make the best of it and do some skywatching on my own from my house. I would have a couple of hours in the morning, and I was hopeful that I would get some good birds coming over. I probably wouldn't get as much as Pete's group would (they had both a better location and more observers to spot birds), but I was hoping to get some hard-to-get waterfowl in the city like Greater White-fronted Geese or Tundra Swans.

I woke up early on the 23rd, and headed up to the roof of my building. The higher you can get, the more your view of the sky isn't limited by nearby trees and buildings, and the more likely you are to see birds migrating that aren't going directly over your head.

My skywatching set up on the roof of my building
My skywatching set up on the roof of my building

I did get to see quite a few waterfowl migrate over. Unfortunately, they were almost all Canada Geese, and I didn't get any unusual or hard-to-get species. I did get 5 swans, but they were too far away to ID to species. I saw over 600 Canada Geese, which shows that my idea wasn't a bad one, I just got unlucky with low species diversity.

There were a couple new species for the year. One was a Common Grackle - a bird that would soon be abundant, but always nice to get that tick early. The second was a Killdeer, which is a bird that holds a special place in my heart. The Killdeer is Kellie's favorite bird (she is the one who got me into birding) and the basis for my little birding company's logo. So, this was a heard-only flyover bird, but it is still always special to ID a Killdeer.

The next day, on March 24, I biked over to my friend Carl's house to brew some beer. Then, as we were sitting outside Carl's house boiling the wort - I heard Sandhill Cranes flying over. That is a really nice "beer brewing" bird. I should probably start keeping a list of the birds I tick while brewing beer at Carl's house. ;) We were brewing a coconut milk stout that day, so maybe we should name it after Sandhill Cranes. On the way back, I saw Red-winged Blackbirds at Bass Lake Preserve.

My bike route to beer brewing

Miles biked on these trips: 10.7 (0 for skywatching from my home, 10.7 for the trip to and from beer brewing)

Miles biked year to date: 169.4

Species count: 48

My bike birding eBird profile: (Please note that you need a free eBird account to see profiles in eBird)

Fundraising links for the two organizations I am supporting with this green big half year. Please donate!

Friends of Sax-Zim Bog:

National MS Society:

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21 abr 2019

Yay for the Killdeer! It took me much longer before I heard one. :)

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