Escapade for an Eastern Kingbird
On May 28, after work I biked into St. Paul to go to Saint Paul Birds and Beers at Moscow on the Hill. Birds and Beers are social events for birders where we can all gather and talk about birds (or whatever else we may find interesting). I really like going to both the Minneapolis and St. Paul versions of Birds and Beers, and I was trying this time to make sure I went so that I could talk about my big year and particularly about the fundraising I am trying to do. So, for those of you here on the blog who didn't come to Birds and Beers, here are the two links for the fundraising I am trying to do for the year. First the National MS Society:
And next the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog:
Lots of species were late in arriving this year - and the flycatchers were one of the most affected groups. On May 29, I still hadn't seen some very common members of this group. So I headed out to Roberts Bird Sanctuary and was relieved to get an Alder Flycatcher before they migrated through and glad that I could finally check Eastern Wood-Pewee off.
On May 31, I led a bird walk on Nicollet Island. Lots of cool stuff, including this Woodchuck carrying her baby by the tail! But there were no new birds for the year.
On June 3, I was at work and didn't have much time after work, but wanted to try to tick off more species for my year. Luckily, I remembered that I still needed a Bank Swallow for my year. They frequently nest in the sandstone cliffs along the Mississippi River near the Ford Dam, which is conveniently on my way home. I first made my way right down near the lock and dam visitor center, which is were I've seen Bank Swallows entering probably nest holes for the past couple of years. But this year there weren't any swallows over there, only a couple of House Sparrows. I could see in the distance that there were lots of swallows flying around farther down river, including a couple of probable Bank Swallows, but I wanted a better view to be sure. So, I went up on the bluff by the Veterans Home. From there, I could look down at Northern Rough-winged Swallows and Cliff Swallows flying to and from the cliffs below. After a while, a few Bank Swallows eventually flew overhead on a foraging run. With that, I just needed Purple Martins to complete my swallow group!
On the 6th of June, I had a dentist appointment downtown. On my way home, I decided to take a slightly longer way home and bike past Lake of the Isles. As I got past the east side of the lake, I spotted my quarry - a pair of Eastern Kingbirds. Another flycatcher that generally arrives late, and this year arrived even later, it was good to finally see them. I often see them on the islands in the middles of the lake, but this time I saw them along the main shoreline in some trees between the bike path and the lake.
At this point in my half-year, I think Alder Flycatcher was the last species that was migrating for points farther north that I expected to see. Everything other through-migrant I either saw or missed when it was coming through. Now the new species for me would be species that breed around here (or are attempting to breed around here). Some are easy, common birds that I just hadn't seen yet, like the Pewee and the Eastern Kingbird. Others are a little trickier, birds that are breeding in the area but only in particular spots and you probably won't run into them unless you go looking at known locations. So, I had to start planning trips to go looking for those rare or localized species. As I was comparing places, I found that many were a ways out of town (naturally, I'd mostly seen the species that could be seen in urban Minneapolis), but that a trip out to eastern Washington County to Afton State Park and a Scientific and Natural Area north of William O'Brien State Park had the potential to net me the most new species. Stay tuned for my next post where I'll starting recounting that three day trip!
Miles biked on this trip: 139.6 (In this period, I also biked a few round trips where I didn't see any new birds and I didn't recount in this blog post, but I've included the mileage.)
Miles biked year to date: 1033.0
Species count: 189
My bike birding eBird profile:
https://ebird.org/profile/MTIxNDg5NQ (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. These causes are really important and they could really use your dollars to do a lot of good! I've raised almost $700 so far between the two organizations, but I would really like to get a lot more. Please donate if you can! If you prefer to help with a nature-related cause, donate to the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog, as they are doing a wonderful job of protecting the Bog as well as helping people interact with the species that live there. If you'd like to help with a cause more focused on human health, please donate to the National MS Society so that we can find a cure!
Friends of Sax-Zim Bog:
National MS Society: