Category Archives: Wildside Nature Tours

MINNESOTA Feb 2019: Winter Boreal Birding – day 5

Day 5 / Feb 25 – Sax-Zim Bog 

This morning dawned cold, clear, and quiet. We departed our hotel early, with few words exchanged, knowing this was our final chance to find the elusive Great Gray Owl. We smiled at the brilliant sunrise that flashed double sun dogs. Our vehicle registered minus-16 degrees in the bog, and snow sparkled in the picturesque landscape. While scanning for Great Gray on Route 7, Kathy spotted a Northern Goshawk perched in silhouette against the rising sun. The bird flew across the road and landed again. Scope views revealed it to be a beautiful adult, all gray with a black eyebrow – a rare and wonderful treat!

 

 

We chose our route carefully, mindful of snow drifts that hadn’t been plowed off wide open roads. The Northern Hawk Owl continued at its favorite perch on McDavitt Road and also seen in flight. On North Yoki Road, we saw a pair of Canada Jays, and finally found a male Black-backed Woodpecker pecking intently on a stand of half-dead trees. Snow Buntings continued looking for grit on the railroad tracks. Finally, it was time to return back to Duluth. A quick stop at Canal Park, overlooking the frozen Lake Superior, produced a lone female Common Goldeneye huddling in a patch of open water, and a flock of flyover Common Mergansers.

 

 

Our winter boreal birding trip ended after exciting adventures, wonderful new friends, and 39 bird species. Mammal sightings included White-tailed Deer, Red Fox, Red Squirrel, and American Marten. Thanks to everyone who joined in the fun!

 

MINNESOTA Feb 2019: Winter Boreal Birding – day 4

Day 4 / Feb 24 – Sax-Zim Bog Our last full day in northern Minnesota was quite memorable. We started early amid frigid temps and wind gusts of 30-40 mphs, yielding a wind chill factor well into minus degrees. Overnight snowfall was blowing hard, reducing visibility, and sinking hopes of seeing the elusive Great GrayContinue Reading

MINNESOTA Feb 2019: Winter Boreal Birding – day 3

Day 3 / Feb 23 –  Sax-Zim Bog Fueled by Caribou Coffee, we headed back to Sax-Zim Bog in search of Great Gray Owl. Snow swirled early, but temps hovered at a balmy 30 degrees for most of the day. We tracked up and down highway 7, and snow-covered dirt roads, looking for any ‘largeContinue Reading

MINNESOTA Feb 2019: Winter Boreal Birding – day 2

Day 2 / Feb 22 – Superior National Forest, Ely, and Sax-Zim Bog We were up and out early, for the drive north into Superior National Forest on a cold, clear morning. We hoped to reach the remote roads before logging vehicles moved through and spooked any roadside Spruce Grouse deeper into the woods. VehiclesContinue Reading

MINNESOTA Feb 2019: Winter Boreal Birding – day 1

Day 1 / Feb 21 – Duluth and Superior Our winter birding trip to Minnesota began in true seasonal style, with several cancelled and re-routed flights due to snowstorms in Philadelphia and Minnesota.  Eventually, nearly all of our group, including leaders Alex Lamoreux and Chris Brown (minus his luggage), along with Erin, Debbie, Ginny, Gary,Continue Reading

Great and Double-crested Cormorants

Along the Delaware River in Philadelphia we can find two species of cormorants – Great and Double-crested. While Double-crested is common and widely distributed throughout the US, Great is found along the northeastern and mid-Atlantic coast and the lower reaches of major rivers, such as the Delaware, leading to the Atlantic. With winter nearing anContinue Reading

Minnesota Feb 2018 : Winter Specialties

Minnesota provides a wonderfully-rewarding experience to birders who venture into frigid, snow-covered landscapes during the winter. This February, Tom Reed guided Wildside Nature Tours’ 4-day tour into the north country of the state, highlighted quality over quantity, as species are sparse this time of year. Owls are a big attraction especially during irruptive years, andContinue Reading

Botswana Nov 2017: Okavango Delta

Our last leg of the 12-day African safari was spent deep in the heart of the Okavango Delta, at the beautiful Xigera Camp. The location accessible only via plane, is a short puddle-jump from Savuti. From the air we marveled at the vast, colorful wetlands, featuring large swathes of greens, beige and blues reflecting aContinue Reading

Botswana Nov 2017: Linyati

Our African safari continued into Botswana, where we explored the famous Okavango Delta and Linyanti regions. The Linyanti concession, adjoining the western boundary of Chobe National Park, consists of mopane woodlands, riparian forest and ancient floodplains. After several years of drought, a decent summer rainfall filled the flowing Savuti Channel, which made our stay allContinue Reading

Zambia Nov 2017: Toka Leya

Transferring by bush plane from Zimbabwe to Botswana we had a brief one-night stay in Zambia at Toka Leya. Set within Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park on the banks of the Zambezi River, the beautiful tented camp is perfectly situated for a sundowner cruise towards Victoria Falls. Though one cannot get close to the falls, we enjoyedContinue Reading