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  • Writer's pictureGregg Severson

Wrapping up the big half year

After dipping on the Bell's Vireo at the 140th Street Marsh, I knew I needed to try at one of the other spots for this species. The classic spot for this species is at Cliff Fen in Dakota County, but for the last couple of years, one has also been seen at Hyland Lake Park Reserve in Hennepin County. Since I had seen Bell's at the Hyland Lake spot in previous years and since it was closer to my house, I decided to try there first. On the 19th of June, I had the time to make a run for it, so I biked down to Hyland Lake. I got to the spot, and right away, I heard the Bell's Vireo singing loudly. This was great news - in previous years, it had taken me several visits before I finally was able to tick the vireo, so hearing it right away was great! It didn't take long before I got good views of it too, and I whipped out my phone and Phone Skope adapter to take photos through my binoculars. The bird kept singing (rather incessantly, actually), so I got took some audio recordings to add to eBird as well! Unfortunately, there was construction nearby, so some of my recordings had heavy equipment backing up beeping noises in them, and others had plane noise in them, so the quality was not the greatest. I do try to submit such records to eBird to help document the noise pollution that many species live with in our human-dominated environment (although I do rate it as lower in quality so that it is clear it isn't the best recording to listen to for a clear rendition of the song).

Bell's Vireo singing on a vertical branch
Bell's Vireo

Here is my best recording of the Bell's Vireo:

And here is a recording with lots of plane noise in the background:

Route down to Hyland Lake Park Reserve and back

As I got very close to the end of the half year, I knew I didn't have much time to add new species. I was lucky that I had seen so many species so far, but it meant that there weren't a lot of options for ticking new species. However, one that I had on my mind was the Tufted Titmouse. I had been talked with Steve Weston about the titmice that he had at his house in Eagan. He even gave me the lowdown on how they never seemed to give the classic "Peter, Peter, Peter" call of the Tufted Titmouse, but rather had a different call that Steve heard frequently. We searched around in various apps and bird song sites, and came up with a couple of recordings that sounded close to what Steve said they sounded like, so I knew what to listen for by his house! Since Steve lives in Eagan, I figured it would be an easy place to visit after work. And so, on June 27th, I headed over to Steve's neighborhood after work. I got to Steve's little cul-de-sac, and then I listened. I had to wait a few minutes, but then I got a Tufted Titmouse calling loudly! I was able to get a pretty good recording, but I never did see the bird.

And that was my last species for the Big Green Half Year! I finished with 211 species and almost 1500 miles biked! I am really happy with that species number - when I started this effort I thought I would be lucky to get to 200 species. Tufted Titmouse also seemed like a really good bird to end on.

I want to send out a big thank you to everyone who made this possible - including all of my donors, other birders who shared their information, and especially Kellie who supported me through all of the time and effort that it took to complete this journey (and found quite a few birds for me too with her sharp eyes!).

Route home from work via Steve's house for the Tufted Titmouse!
The final bike trip of the half year. The Tufted Titmouse was near the "n" in Eagan on the map.

Miles biked on these trips: 103.4

Miles biked year to date: 1480.6

Species count: 211

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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