Minnesota to Michigan
19-29 June 2011
 by Henry Detwiler

Suzanne, Gaby, and I spent ten days in northern Minnesota & Michigan visiting relatives and some of the many wonderful federal and state natural areas there.

128 species seen  Click here for bird checklist.
Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized photos. border  

SUNDAY - MONDAY, June 19-20, 2011

Trumpeter Swans

The next morning Al took me out and showed me how the spring flooding had impacted the area. He also showed me a huge eagle nest with an adult Bald Eagle perched next to it

On the four-hour drive between the St. Paul/Minneapolis Airport and Shotley we spotted our first good birds, a pair of regal-looking Trumpeter Swans. A short break in Savanna State Forest turned up our first of many Chestnut-sided Warblers and Clay-colored Sparrows.

chestnut-sided warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler

american redstart
American Redstart

Back at Al & Lurline's home we watched a family of Hairy Woodpeckers, Purple Finches, American Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, and cowbirds come in to feed on the sunflowers and mixed seed. Later that morning I wandered east in the rainy weather. Three American Woodcock, Black-and-White Warblers, and American Redstarts were my rewards.

Hairy Woodpeckers

TUESDAY, June 21, 2011

On Tuesday morning Suzanne and I drove to Scenic State Park. Hiking in the wind, we IDed Mourning, Yellow-rumped, Magnolia, and Black-throated Green Warblers.We also enjoyed watching a young spotted fawn leaping through a flowery field. The rain set in for good that afternoon so we headed home and took the family out for a fine walleye dinner.


WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY, June 22-23, 2011

On Wednesday we drove down to visit Suzanne's sister's family in Moorhead. A stop in between rain showers at Hamden Slough NWR gave us Bobolinks, which we saw, and secretive Sedge Wrens, which we never saw.

golden-winged warbler
Golden-winged Warbler


Early the next morning we picked up Suzanne's brother Adam and headed east to Tamarac NWR. At the headquarters we saw two beautiful Baltimore Orioles, Purple Finches, and more American Goldfinches. After seeing our Chestnut-sided, Nashville, and Ovenbird friends, we located our target--the beautiful Golden-winged Warblers! Here we had our first look at another north-woods denizen: Ruffed Grouse.

Black-billed Cuckoo

A walk around the fields of Buffalo River State Park and along the river itself gave Adam a chance to find Suzanne's first Black-billed Cuckoo.

Ruffed Grouse
FRIDAY - SATURDAY, June 24-25, 2011

On Friday morning we headed east to Michigan, stopping at Sax/Zim on the way. After four hours of searching, a fellow birder from New York put us on a singing Connecticut Warber.

The next morning we continued our drive to Grayling. At Van Riper State Park we added to our growing warbler list with Pine and Cape May. Farther east, the auto loop at Seney NWR was very pretty. Here we saw our first Common Loons with chicks, heard our first Trumpeter Swans "trumpeting," and spotted this handsome kingbird.

Eastern Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird

SUNDAY - MONDAY, June 26, 2011

Lincoln's Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow

kirtland's warbler
Kirtland's Warbler

This area also turned out to be a great spot to see displaying Upland Sandpipers, Lincoln's Sparrows, Clay-colored Sparrows, Field Sparrows, and Brown Thrashers.

Kirtland's Warbler

On Sunday morning we watched an interesting video on the Kirtland's Warbler, and then followed a USFW intern through a young jack pine plantation in search of the rare warbler. It wasn't long before we'd seen multiple singing Kirtland's Warblers, a life bird for both Suzanne and me.

upland sandpiper
Upland Sandpiper

Later, at Hartwick Pines State Park we had Evening Grosbeaks visiting the window feeders, and on the old growth trail our first Blackburnian Warbler. On Monday, following the advice of one of our fellow Kirtland's Warbler searchers we drove north of Trout Lake in the Upper Peninsula. Arriving at the bog at 0900, the first bird we heard was a singing Connecticut Warbler, and a short while later we got some OK photos.

wolf footprint
Wolf Footprint

Connecticut Warbler

Here also was our one and only Olive-sided Flycatcher of the trip, and some large canine tracks that might have been from a wolf.

TUESDAY, June 28, 2011

During our last full day in Minnesota we explored a large lumber company plantation south of Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin. We didn't round up any new birds, but the highlights were fields of beautiful wildflowers and a family of Ruffed Grouse.

Northern Bog



WEDNESDAY, June 29, 2011
The final morning before Suzanne and Gaby dropped me off at the airport we found a few singing Blue-winged Warblers east of St. Paul. It was a fine way to end a great birding trip to the North!

Blue-winged Warbler

Common Loon family

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