My BIG Day – June 4, 2006

And what an incredible day it turned out to be! The guided hike that I led of the Vermilion River Gorge Hiking Trail for the Voyageurs National Park Birders Rendezvous turned out great. My group of 7 birders ventured out at 7am. We were greeted by the resident Song Sparrow as we started our hike. Song Sparrows have a highly variable song, but they always start out with 3 notes and then follow it with a healthy warble of differing degree. This Song Sparrow liked to incorporate a lengthy trill right in the middle.  

We walked on to the songs from many different warblers. They were very good at staying well hidden as is their nature. I tried phishing them out and finally we were afforded some fantastic looks at a Chestnut-sided Warbler and a great look at a Blackburnian Warbler who must have gotten jealous when the Chestnut-sided was getting so much attention. We heard the “cheery, cheery; chorry, chorry” song of the Mourning Warbler, the trill of the Northern Parula and the beautiful slurry song of the Scarlet Tanager, but they wouldn’t show themselves to us.

Later on as we headed into “Winter Wren Alley” we could hardly hear the other birds over the din of the Winter Wren. What a fantastic song they have-it is absolutely incredible. I think he is my favorite bird. Everyone got to hear the song and I don’t think they will forget it. The Winter Wren is one of our specialties up here; they are one of the first birds to come back in the spring, sometimes there is still snow in the woods. Maybe that is how they got their name. Winter_WrenThey are extremely hard to locate as they love the tangle of downed trees and brush. I have only seen them in the fall when the leaves are starting to come down. But you certainly can HEAR them! And they will call all the way into August.

We headed into the Pine highlands and heard the colony of Least Flycatchers that reside there. We heard good examples of all the little calls that they make. They were flitting all over the place.

And then,,,,, to my extreme excitement we got a fantastic look at a CANADA WARBLER He was singing his heart out sitting on the end of a dead branch. Everyone got to see him; we were lucky as they are usually well hidden in the brush. My fellow birders got a kick out of seeing my excitement as it was a “lifer” for me.

We were treated to a scrumptious snack of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies provided by Handbergs Marine and delivered by my wonderful husband. They were a hit!

By then it was 10:15 and getting towards the end of our hike so we decided to catch a boat ride with Jim because I wanted to show the group the active Osprey nest that is located right off the main road. Everyone got to see the Osprey tending her eggs. Then we drove down to Nelson’s Resort where a White-winged Dove (an accidental for Minnesota) has been frequenting the garden. Unfortunately the timing was not right for the Dove, he was taking a siesta.

All in all, it was a great day. We tallied 45 birds for the day. Not too bad.

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