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  • Writer's pictureGregg Severson

Spin for a Solitary Sandpiper

The 6th of May was going to be a good day! It started off early, when I was taking my bike out of our Majestic Bike Chalet (aka shed), and I heard the distinctive song of the Black-Throated Green Warbler! This song is the first warbler song I learned - all the way back in Ann Arbor when I was in law school. It was definitely a nice start to the day to hear that bird before even leaving the yard!

I biked all the way out to work, then took a little birding break at lunch and got a number of year birds - Least Flycatcher, Black-and-White Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler and Nashville Warbler. Thomson Reuters has a large corporate campus, and there is a significant chunk of it that isn't really developed. There is a long walking path that many people use to get in a little outside time and exercise during the day. Every month from April through October I lead a bird walk for employees on this path. It is a nice advantage of biking all the way to work that I can count any birds I see at work for my green big year!

On the way home, I was biking on the bike path that runs along the south side of Interstate 494 as it crosses the Minnesota River. There is a long peninsula of sorts that the highway runs along, with some trees. This area was just hopping with Palm Warblers - I felt like some sort of warbler whisperer that had flocks of warblers flying alongside his bike! Along that stretch I saw my first Yellow Warbler of the year, too.

On the way back home, my plan was to stop by Veterans Memorial Park in RIchfield. This park is a well-known migrant trap, and the birding there can be phenomenal in migration. I had seen that there were a couple of Solitary Sandpipers hanging about, so I decided to see if I could find them, along with the possibility that there might be more warblers there as well.

When I got there, warblers in were abundant numbers, but not much species diversity. There were Palm Warblers and Yellow-rumped Warblers everywhere - it was a fun time to just know that a warbler would be lurking in front of you no matter where you looked! I didn't have any luck finding any other species mixed in with the abundance of Palms and Yellow-rumps. I walked partway around the lake at Veterans, scanning the edges of the water and particularly the islands for any sign of sandpipers. I also looked in some of the muddy bits near the edge of the marsh, but I wasn't seeing the sandpiper. Then I decided to walk on the path that cuts through the middle of the park (and through the middle of the lake), and there - in probably the busiest spot it could find - was a Solitary Sandpiper - just feet of the trail on some half-submerged logs at the edge of the lake. In this area, I also spotted my first Gray Catbird of the year.

I then walked through the marsh on the boardwalk. I was surprised by a little bird working through the cattails. At first I thought it was likely to be a Common Yellowthroat, but then it popped out onto the boardwalk and revealed itself to be a Marsh Wren! As I was walking, I kept my ear out for the secretive marsh birds. A Sora called a few times, but then I heard the "kiddick" call of the Virginia Rail. It was nice to tick that one off of the list too, since they can be so elusive even when you know they are around!

Miles biked on these trips: 35.5

Miles biked year to date: 648.5

Species count: 146

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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