I did Montrose Bird Sanctuary Saturday am. I don't keep a life list anymore except in my head and I don't really have the motivation right now to keep a list of what I see on a given day or report to eBird. Maybe one day I'll have time for that. So, I don't really remember everything I saw but scarlet tanager, warbling vireo, swainson's thrush, rose-breasted grosbeak, palm warbler, and lincoln sparrow were some highlights. Swainson's thrush is one of my favorites - check out this ethereal song. We heard this often on our trips in the Boundary Waters which is at the southern edge of its nesting zone. I also got a chance to catch up with my friend Jerry - check out his pics, amazing.
Sunday am kicked off a kick-backside mom's day when I just so happened to show up at LaBagh parking lot at the same time as (later I learned) legendary birder Al Stokie. As he was starting off his hike I strolled over and struck up some talk. Birders are usually super helpful and friendly so I don't ever feel weird about doing this. Upon realizing I was unsure about the route to take he invited me to hitch a hike. A good route is essential knowledge in a place like LaBagh with many trails that you likely won't know exist. I wouldn't have seen half the birds I saw without him.
We met some folks he knew who were so bummed at how dead it was they said they were out. He told me to be patient that some days it's just harder to find the birds. Then we walked up on "warbler pockets" and just kept seeing more. Here is his post on IBET from his day, he tells it better. Now, I only saw 9 or 10 of the warblers that he saw because I peeled off too soon but the highlight for me was definitely the black-throated green warbler. I had only seen this bird once before, so to hear it then search and keep searching then finally see it - a close friend once told me he was way into finding hidden treasure (?) and when I explained what birding was like, he was like oh my god, it's like finding hidden treasure. I said yeh, I guess you could say it is. And finding it with master scouts who slowly help build your knowledge base each year about all the different kinds of treasures and the maps to use and way more makes it an exciting annual adventure that no-doubt will good surprise most who give it a try. It's a short window that is closing soon at least in a place like this. Al says after May 20th or so the leaves in LaBagh are too big to see much of anything. Places like Montrose will still be good for 2-3 weeks more.... THIS is the time.