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  • Writer's pictureGregg Severson

Peregrination for a Prothonotary Warbler

As I was at work on May 16, there were an abundance of good birds being shared on the birder internet. The most eye-catching of them were a Yellow-throated Warbler (not to be confused with the Common Yellowthroat, which is also a warbler, but much more common in these parts) at Crosby Farm Park in St. Paul and a Black-throated Blue Warbler at Wood Lake. I tried to decide which one to go for after work, and asked for advice in my "Gregg's 2019 Green Big Year" Facebook group. What came out is that the Yellow-throated Warbler had to be priority number one, since this may very well be the only chance to see one this year, whereas the Black-throated Blue was rare, but there still might be another shot at it another time. But I was also goaded to go try for them both!

So, my first stop was at Crosby Farm Park. This is a park in the bottomlands of the Mississippi River and like everywhere, the water was quite high! I had good directions as to where the bird was seen, and it didn't require any river fordings (though there was a bit of water on the path)! Once I got there, I teamed up with Ise Varghese and Matt Jensen who were also both looking for the bird. We saw Isaac and Ezra Hosch on their way out, who had the Yellow-throated Warbler singing at 3pm but then went on to other parts of the park. There were many, many birds at the Yellow-throated spot including such cool species as Canada Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Broad-winged Hawk, Blue-headed Vireo, Black-throated Green Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Great Crested Flycatcher, and Red-eyed Vireo. Both Matt and Ise caught fleeting glimpses (just a few seconds each) of the Yellow-throated Warbler, but I never got eyes on it and none of us ever heard it sing. We all felt that a cold wind was kicking up, and that wind probably changed the Yellow-throated Warbler's habits and made it much harder for us to find. Eventually, I gave up and headed over to Wood Lake to use my remaining time to try for the Black-throated Blue Warbler.

Snapping turtle
A snapping turtle that was also interested in seeing the Yellow-throated Warbler

Once I got to Wood Lake, I headed around the east side of the lake towards where the Black-throated Blue was reported. And what do you know - now that I wasn't looking for one, there was a Prothonotary Warbler, easy as can be - right where lots of other people had seen it. At long last, I finally got a Prothonotary for the year! (I bet you guys are excited you won't have to hear any more tales of my looking for this bird and dipping on it). I went back to the part of the park where I saw the Connecticut earlier and found another skulking denizen of dense foliage - a Mourning Warbler. At that point it was getting dark - I had dipped on the two big targets for the day but I did get a some quality birds anyway.

When I come up with titles for my blog posts and Strava rides I have been looking at the thesauraus to try to come up with additional words for voyage or travel that alliterate with bird names. An eye-catching one that I have just been itching for the chance to use is "peregrination". And when I finally saw the Prothonotary I knew I had the perfect chance to use it (especially since I'd already seen Peregrine Falcon earlier in the year before I had looked at the thesaurus so many times). Peregrination means "a journey, especially a long or meandering one", which perfectly describes all of my attempts to see the Prothonotary this year!

The next day (May 17th), I lead another walk for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation board at Mississippi Gorge Regional Park and Kellie came along to help. I was hoping that we would see tremendous numbers of birds like I'd seen the previous day at Wood Lake and Crosby Farm Park. However, things were a lot slower where we were - perhaps because a cold east wind was blowing and the birds were avoiding that exposed side of the bluffs. We still had good birds though - including a very cooperative Indigo Bunting that sang its heart out for us, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Yellow-Bellied Flycatchers are another bog specialist (like the Connecticut Warbler from the last post), and can be hard to find in migration in the Twin Cities. This year has been quite a good one for the Yellow-bellies in our area, and I was glad to get one for my list!

Indigo Bunting singing on an exposed perch
Indigo Bunting

Bike route from 46th and Hiawatha to Crosby Farm Park to Wood Lake to home

Route from Mississippi Gorge Regional Park to home

Miles biked on these trips: 38.0

Miles biked year to date: 815.9

Species count: 181

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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