We met again before the rest of the world was stirring – interesting to note that the sun was already up – what a difference a week makes. Also not as cold.
Bill took us to Winton to begin the morning. He reminded us that it is always good birding in Winton. Between the twisting of the Shagawa River and the meandering shoreline of Fall Lake, one can always see something in motion. But be aware that most of the areas are private land.
Bill set up his marvelous scope at a cleared area along the river right off “Main Street.” It was posted no-hunting and used to be the railroad right-of-way along the river. A cluster of Canada Geese honked their good mornings. There were beautiful Wood Ducks cruising near by as were some Common Golden Eye. Also saw Song Sparrows, a Bald Eagle and the Red-Winged Black Birds. We learned that all the Red Winged we were hearing were male birds that come first in the migration to claim their territory. The females will come later and get busy with nesting.
We then headed West on Co Rd. 990, know locally as the Old Winton Road, and came out on Hwy. 88 Grant McMann Blvd, which goes around Shagawa Lake. A right turn, a short distance and we stopped at Old Koschak Farm Natural Wild Life Area. It used to host the breeding ponds of a DNR fish farm. It is now a breeding area for lots of different birds and ticks – and mosquitoes, Bill says. The dikes around the old ponds make for interesting and varied vistas over the several viewing areas. It was here that I finally got the hang of the very good binoculars Bill loaned me: Don’t put them right up to the eyes.
We heard – but did not see – a Snipe! I was sure that it was a hoax – remember your days as a camper and being taken on a midnight Snipe hunt? Bill showed the drawing in the bird book and sure enough–there was a Snipe, a shorebird with the characteristic long legs and long beak; but I’m still not convinced.
Also spotted were a lot of wood peckers: Downy, Hairy, Yellow-Bellied Sap Sucker and a Flicker; lots more Red Winged Black Birds, Song Sparrows and another Bald Eagle. Ducks included Mallard and Common Golden Eye.
We crossed the road and walked through the grass (tick-haven) to Shagawa Lake shore where we saw a Ring Necked Duck. This bird is one I’ve often seen, but since it looks pretty much like generic “duck” I’ve never paid much attention to it. Bill told us all about the nesting habitats for all the diving ducks: the Pileated Wood Pecker hollows out a cavity in a tree, uses it for a season and next year the ducks move in to raise their young, then the cavity is empty again – short term rental tree condos.
We were graced with another Bald Eagle fly-by and then headed home.