Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Whole day in Lake County

Today was the trip into the spruce north woods of Lake County with Sparky leading the way. We were out fairly early, and had the first Great Gray Owl before 8:30. A lifer, and the first of four of the big owls we saw today. We pretty much expected to see them, and the real challenge was to find a Spruce Grouse. Four hours of driving on snow packed roads in four wheel drive netted nary a one. But I did learn what to look for, and where to look, and will probably try again before leaving the area. At one point we got off the highway and turned up a side road to look for some woodpeckers tat Sparky was trying to find for his year list. We played tapes and spished, but couldn’t scare up the desired birds. What we did find was a flock of Boreal Chickadees, after Sparky had said they were never found in flocks. What a disappointment. Five lifers instead of just one. Fast moving little chumps, made it hard for Sparky to get a good pic, but the one here is good enough.

Another bird that came in to our calls was a Gray Jay, to in fact. They seemed fearless, and we guessed maybe they were looking for food, being well known camp robbers, the kind of bird that will lift a sizzling sausage from your frying pan. I tossed some sesame sticks n the road. They liked them. I tossed them closer; they didn’t care. As I prepared to toss another, inspiration struck, and I just held it out in my open hand. See the results.

We stopped at the Moose Café in Isabella, which had several feeders with lots of Pine Grosbeaks, many redpolls, but no Hoary. There were number of deer at bales of hay and feed, one being a one horned big buck. It would occasionally shake its head, as if trying to cure its imbalance. The locals said it had been that way for six weeks.

We made several more stops on the way back to Duluth, saw three more Great Grays, a pair of Harlequin Ducks and several Common Goldeneyes. Home after dark, at 11 degrees, and somewhat whooped.


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