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  • Writer's pictureGregg Severson

Whistling while watching American Wigeon

After the big bike trip and the subsequent rarity chase of the Neotropic Cormorant, things calmed down quite a bit in August. Traditionally August isn't a big month for listing birders and this year was no exception for me. I got one new species in August - a Northern Harrier that I saw flying over Long Meadow Lake near the Old Cedar Avenue bridge. I am not quite sure how I managed to miss all the harriers during spring migration and during my bike trip to western Minnesota, but it was nice to find one during August so I didn't have to worry about it anymore! I was a little surprised that I found it at Old Cedar, since the water level is so high there, but I was happy regardless!

In September birding started picking up again as more migrants began coming through. However, I'd done so well with migrants in the spring, that there weren't a lot of new species for me to get in September! On September 14 I saw an alert in my inbox that Kathrynne Baumtrog (who has been following my big year and generously donated to the fundraising causes!) had seen four American Wigeon down at Grass Lake in south Minneapolis. This was another relatively common species that I had somehow managed to miss during the spring and I was excited to finally tick them in the fall.

Kellie and I were going to an art fair in St. Louis Park and I asked if she'd like to go to Grass Lake afterward so that we could see the wigeon. She agreed and off we went. First we enjoyed the nice art fair and then we headed towards Grass Lake. The weather had started to cloud up, and we were a bit worried about rain, but we kept going towards the lake. We got to the west side of the lake and started scanning. The lake isn't very big, but there were a lot of ducks to scan through! And this time of year many of the male ducks are still in the drab eclipse plumage and take more than just a glance to tell what they are. We continued working our way around the lake, trying to examine each duck and see if we could find the wigeon. Once we got to the far southeastern part of the lake - boom! - there were four American Wigeon for MN green big year species #221. This positioned me just one species behind the current big green record of 222!

American Wigeon on green-tinted waters
One of the four American Wigeon

Kellie and I continued around the lake and ran across a nice little flock of warblers. But then we thought we'd better get going before the rain started and we headed for home after a successful chase!

Map of the route from home over to the art fair in St. Louis Park, then south to Grass Lake and then returning home

Miles biked during all of August and into early September: 440.4

Miles biked year to date: 2531.0

Species count (MN): 221

Species count (overall): 222

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!

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