Banner day on the bog

Today, I got to spend the morning with a busload of birders who were participating in the sixth-annual Sax-Zim Bog Winter Birding Festival. Bob King’s pictures and my story will be in Sunday’s Duluth News Tribune and online at
It’s amazing how much more you see when guides who know birds and know the area are showing the way. Our guides, Roy Zimmerman and Ben Harste, were knowledgeable, helpful and patient. The views through Roy’s spotting scope were astonishing.
There also were a number of experienced, sharp-eyed birders on the bus who added their expertise and helpfulness. And there were a few others who are closer to wannabe territory.
People I met on the bus came from New York, Utah, Illinois and
Tennessee as well as Minnesota. It was a friendly, fun group.
It all added up to a banner day for me. I added five “lifers” to my list: pine grosbeak, snow buntings, northern shrike, black-billed magpie and … at last! … gray jay.
Even though I’d seen an evening grosbeak before, it was a treat seeing one through Roy’s scope.
The snow buntings, tightly grouped in a tree in the morning sun, were spectacular. Ben said he counted 35 of them.
Bob King shared this picture of some of the buntings:

If I had been able to stay longer, I probably would have seen more … a boreal chickadee at the least. But that just gives me something to look for next time.

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