Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Badgers irruption in the bog

Greetings, intrepid reader! Thanks for stopping by the Eagle Optics blog to read our quick update from the last two days of scouting in Sax-Zim Bog.

Bird-a-thons are all about the numbers: Blue Jays count the same as Cardinals (not so easy this far north!) which count the same as House Sparrows.... to win, you need to plan the best route to maximize the number of species seen or heard during the very limited daylight hours. In the winter, in the Western Lake Superior Basin, that means lots of feeder birds and waterfowl, and the little bit of hardy landbirds that spend the cold months this far north. So why did we spend the last two days scouting Sax-Zim Bog?

You might be thinking: "Surely that place can't produce a large number of species...", and you'd be right. But, what it does produce is pretty specific to that one lone locale, at least within a quick drive from the Duluth/Superior area. Winter owls are the most charismatic specialty and our scouting effort, aided by many helpful birders and most of the daylight hours over two days, has definitely paid off. But owls aren't the end of it; Boreal Chickadees, Black-billed Magpies, Sharp-tailed Grouse, and Black-backed Woodpeckers are just a few of the fantastic boreal specialties that grace the haunts of "The Bog", as it's locally known. With a little scouting intelligence, and a whole lot of luck, we'll tally up most of these birds at some point during our two days of birding.

Tomorrow is our last day of scouting and we've still got plenty of species to "nail down" (the term for having a solid location we can count on at the time we expect to be there!) before we can finalize our route. Tom Prestby has joined us in Duluth and Lars Pomara has returned to his wife and son in Madison. Eric Wood is under the weather so we're all hoping he recovers in time to make the competition. Everyone is in great spirits especially given the late evening view we had today of a gorgeous Great Gray Owl in The Bog. Here are a few shots from the last two days. Enjoy!

And please remember it's not too late to make your pledge to our team at http://saxzim.dojiggy.com/eagleopticsbadgerirruption

Remember, all donations support conservation in the Sax-Zim Bog via the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog group.

For those of you who have already pledged, THANK YOU!

Cheers, and Good Birding,

Badger La Puma and the entire Eagle Optics Badger Irruption team

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