Sunday, June 13, 2010

Crex Meadows and Sax-Zim

Today is Sunday and the family is about to load into the truck for the drive up to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area where we will stay the next 2 nites. Friday was all about getting the various family members to Minneapolis. The day's highlight was a fine meal at a place called 112 Eatery in downtown Minneapolis. It was one of those menus where you are doomed because you want to try everything, but of course can only eat so much food. We did our best to make a dent by ordering starters like burrata with poached maine lobster, steak tartare, artichoke salad with goat cheese cream dressing, lamb scottadita with goat's milk yogurt and pan-fried gnocchi with parmesan.

Main courses were an incredible bone-in pork loin with cherries and port, a less successsful stuffed chicken wings, spicy sausage, prawns mixed grill over white and fava beans, and a delicate spinach and ricotta rotolo. We managed to eat a side of french fries with the entrees. The opening wines were single glasses of Pine Ridge chenin blanc, a picoul from France, and "anthilia", a white blend made by Donnafugata in Sicily. A very well made 2007 barbara del alba from Vietti accompanied the main dishes.  Dessert was vanilla panna cotta with berry sangria, lemon cream tart with candied almonds, cocoa nib chocolate cake with raspberry vanilla ice cream, and a glass of 2003 Taylor LBV port.
Yesterday morning my wife and I were out of the motel by 5:15 to make the 90 minute drive to Crex Meadows, a wonderful wildlife refuge in Wisconsin northeast of Minneapolis. I had made my first visit there last spring, and loved birding this very large, very habitat diverse area. Yesterday was an overcast, cool morning, and other than a guy on a bike, we had the place to ourselves. The 2 photos of black tern (above) and common loon were taken there. We saw several loons, and heard them calling often. 
Another highlight species was trumpeter swan which I recorded initially for my big year back in May in Ohio, but should have waited until now since I learned later that the Ohio birds are not accepted as wild by the Ohio bird committee.  Other good birds included sandhill cranes, bald eagles, and a new year bird--the alder flycatcher--asking us regularly if we wanted free beer. For non-birders, the song of the alder sounds like it is saying free beer.

We left Crex about 10 AM to work our way up thru the western side of Wisconsin. Our target birds were leconte's sparrow which we did not see or hear at Crex, and the elusive connecticut warbler. We visited several promising birding sites over the next 6 hours, but to no avail.
We met up with our children in Duluth for dinner and a movie (Robin Hood) before checking into our motel for the nite.

This morning I slipped out at 5 AM without waking my wife to bird at the well known Saz-Zim bog area. I was still hunting for our first connecticut warbler of the big year. Lots of birds were singing on a bit foggy morning. About 8 AM I finally heard a single connecticut singing, but it was not near the road, and I could not get it to come out of its dense hiding place. So for now the connecticut will go down as a heard only bird.

After 2 days of birding the weekly total is at 67 birds, and the YTD is now up to 612. Where we are going the next 2 days has some promising birding. Stay tuned!

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