Lots of life on the Lester River

“Some kind of merganser” seems to be the early consensus on Tony Mitchell’s mystery duck from the Lester River.
I’m too far out of my depth to even hazard a guess, but I can tell you that Tony did see mergansers during his recent birding trips to the Lester River.
And lots more.
Tony was kind enough to share some of his pictures, and I’m happy to pass them along to you.
We start with an immature bald eagle. (They don’t start to “go bald” until the fourth year.)

Next, a couple of pictures of a cedar waxwing. In the first one, it looks like it’s wearing spaceman goggles. I always think the subtle colorings of a cedar waxwing are exquisite.

And now we get to the mergansers, starting with a common merganser (I love this picture):

And some family time with red-breasted mergansers:

And, speaking of family time, a mallard family:

Tony said he also saw cormorants and ring-billed gulls.

Your bird photos and stories gleefully accepted at: jlundy@duluthnews.com.

Mystery duck

Tony Mitchell has been birding along the Lester River this month, and he has spotted an unfamiliar duck a couple of times. He also has taken some lovely pictures of it:

Tony took some pictures of more familiar birds as well, which I’ll share soon. But for now, it’s up to you dear readers: Can you identify the Lester River duck?

Your bird pictures and stories gratefully greeted at: jlundy@duluthnews.com.

Most wanted

Tony Mitchell reminded me of my “Wanna-See” list, posted here way back on Feb. 23, 2008.
This was my list:
1. Scarlet tanager
2. Gray jay
3. Boreal chickadee
4. Great gray owl
5. Snowy owl
6. Harris’ sparrow
7. Eastern bluebird
8. Mountain bluebird
9. Cape May warbler
10. Northern mockingbird
11. Three-toed woodpecker
In the three-plus years since then, I’ve seen three of those birds. Will I get them all by, say, 2020?
The birds I’ve seen: scarlet tanager, Harris’ sparrow, Cape May warbler. I don’t have any other birds to add to the list, although I’m thrilled to see ANY bird for the first time, as long as it’s alive and not in captivity. My biggest frustration is my continued failure to spot a gray jay. For someone who lives in Northeastern Minnesota, it shouldn’t be that hard. And it shouldn’t be a bird that’s hard to identify.
Tony offered his own list (in no certain order, he said). Here it is:
1. Scarlet tanager
2. Snowy owl
3. Great gray owl
4. Three-toed woodpecker
5. Black-billed magpie
6. Eastern meadowlark
7. Great black-backed gull
8. Saw-whet owl
9. Gryfalcon
10. Parasitic Jaeger
11. Tufted titmouse
What about you? Do you have a most-wanted-bird list? Eleven isn’t a magic number. It can be two or eight or 12. But I’d be interested in finding out what birds you’d most like to see.

Your lists, photos and stories eagerly received here: jlundy@duluthnews.com.

More from Park Point

Thanks for your responses about the mystery shorebirds. Consensus seems to be at least a couple of kinds of sandpipers.
Now for more of Tony Mitchell’s pictures from Park Point taken a couple of Sundays ago. Here’s a great collection of eastern kingbirds in action:

And a couple of nice views of a great blue heron:

Your bird stories and pictures gratefully received at: jlundy@duluthnews.com.

Mystery shorebirds

Tony Mitchell birded on Park Point on Sunday, and he came across a couple of shorebirds that he couldn’t identify. Can anyone help us with IDs of the shorebirds in Tony’s pictures?

Tony also saw plenty of birds he could identify: bald eagles, Canada geese, common terns, eastern kingbirds, mallards, ring-billed gulls, robins, common mergansers, double-crested cormorants, American black ducks, great blue heron, Nashville warbler, killdeer, red-winged blackbirds, common grackles, black-capped chickadees, song sparrows and starlings.
He shared some wonderful photos of kingbirds and a heron; I’ll save those for a later day.

Meanwhile, I was far away, visiting friends who are missionaries in the interior of Papua Indonesia. There are something like 700 species of birds in Papua, but I didn’t see many of them. Thanks to my host pointing them out, I saw — and heard — one flock of hornbills. Each day, about 5:30 p.m., a flock of parrots would fly noisily overhead. I’m pretty sure I saw a few of them one time. One day, I watched a beautiful brown-and-white raptor of some sort soaring over the hills. I haven’t yet figured out what it was. The ubiquitous bird in the area we were in, which was about 2,300 feet above sea level in the tropical rainforest, was some sort of swift. They were artful fliers and great fun to watch. If I stood still, they’d almost fly into me before making an abrupt turn. But they moved much too quickly for me to get a picture.
I took a few pictures of butterflies instead, and I might share them one of these days.
I also had my first taste of python and got a close-up view of a tarantula.

Your bird stories and pictures from far and near welcome at: jlundy@duluthnews.com.