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  • Writer's pictureGregg Severson

Going gaga for a Green Heron

I had heard that Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield was getting hot with lots and lots of warblers present, so on the morning of the 13th of May I decided to head there before work. There was a lot of bird activity, with many birds singing and lots of foraging in the treetops where the morning sun was hitting. I didn't have a lot of time to sort through the many, many Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers to find everything that was new, but I did get Warbling Vireo, Tennessee Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, and Wilson's Warbler. I also found a Green Heron working the area near a new stone amphitheater. I was only there for a short time, but it was obvious that there were many birds present - a bonanza of numbers that would likely yield some rare birds.

As I was leaving Wood Lake and biking through a neighborhood in Richfield, I heard a Wood Thrush singing - this is cool because Wood Thrush is a good bird, and even better it completed the thrushes for me for the half year! For certain groups of birds, you can feel like you've gotten all of them and that your "collection" for the year is complete. For a group like the warblers, this isn't possible because there are so many species and multiple different rarities that could be found (and the rarities aren't so rare that you can not include them as a part of the group that is attainable). However, thrushes are a bit smaller group. Normally, I think of the regular thrushes as Swainson's Thrush, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Wood Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Veery, American Robin, and Eastern Bluebird. This year, I even got the bonus of getting the rare Varied Thrush to add to the collection. So, getting Wood Thrush really did complete the set! Of course, something even rarer could pop up (like the Mountain Bluebird that Kellie and I saw in Duluth last fall). But, rarities aside, the set of expected thrushes was complete! In the sense that birding is a type of collecting, it can be very satisfying to complete a "set"!

When I was at work, I heard that someone had found a Prothonotary at Wood Lake! Egads - I was just there and didn't see it (although I only covered a tiny fraction of the park in a short amount of time), but I knew I'd be heading back to try for another Protho that afternoon. I also had a hot tip from Devon Novy that she had a Bay-Breasted Warbler that had been hanging out at her neighborhood park for a few days. I started off at Taft Park in Richfield looking for the Bay-Breasted with very specific location information from Devon. After a few minutes of looking - there it was! I nice, uncommon warbler to get, and made much easier by tips from a fellow birder!

Bay-breasted Warbler

After Taft Park, I headed to Wood Lake again to try for the Prothonotary. The word was that it liked to hang out near where I saw the Green Heron that morning. Well, I did not see any sign of the Protho, although I did see the Green Heron again!

Green Heron

I also saw a Ruby-throated Hummingbird visiting some flowers just before dusk. Then - on the way home I had a Common Nighthawk flying over Bryant Avenue and peenting. Common Nighthawks are another bird I remember well from my early days of birding. They nested in Northfield, so when we had an apartment on the south side of downtown (near a grocery store with a nice, flat, rocky roof), we got to hear the nighthawks peenting all night. It is always good to see and hear nighthawks again!

Ride to work via Wood Lake

Ride home via Taft Lake and Wood Lake

Miles biked on these trips: 42.3

Miles biked year to date: 729.1

Species count: 162

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. These causes are really important and they could really use your dollars to do a lot of good!

Friends of Sax-Zim Bog:

National MS Society:

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