Festival Field Trips

2019 Field Trips

HAPPY DISCLAIMER: Each winter blesses us with a varied cast of “avian characters” from the boreal north. But we never know who’s going to show up! Some winters we have many owls but few finches. Other winters we may have a blizzard of redpolls and Snow Buntings but no crossbills. Then the very next winter we will have ZERO redpolls but an abundance of Pine Grosbeaks, crossbills, etc. All boreal birds are “boom-bust” species, and if food crops (voles, spruce cones, pine cones, birch seeds, mountain ash berries) are abundant farther north, then they stay home. Fortunately, these food crops are not synchronous, and we always have a variety of boreal birds in the “Arctic Riviera” of the Sax-Zim Bog. Of course, several species are year-round residents including Great Gray Owl, Black-backed Woodpecker, Evening Grosbeak, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Boreal Chickadee, etc. Bottom line…Not every species listed in the field trip descriptions below will be seen each winter

Friday, February 15th Field Trips

Pre – Festival Field Trip to Sax-Zim Bog (Cost $75)
Meet field trip leaders at the Meadowlands Community Center at 6:30 am. School buses will depart at 7:00 am. Field trip ends at the Meadowlands Community Center at 2:00 p.m.

This is a great field trip for those who are arriving early for the festival and want to do some serious birding before registering for the festival in the town of Meadowlands.  This field trip will focus on some great winter specialties like Boreal Chickadee, Black-backed Woodpecker, Hoary and Common Redpolls, Pine Grosbeak, Evening Grosbeak, Gray Jay, Northern Shrike.  Keep an eye out for the elusive Great Gray Owl that can be found in the Sax-Zim Bog area, hunting along the roadside for small rodents.  Another possibility is the Northern Hawk Owl that has been observed many times during the winter months hunting for food in the open areas such as logged out areas or along the roadsides.  Besides birds, there are mammals in this area that could be found on this field trip, such as Moose, Timber Wolf, Bobcat, Pine Marten or a Fisher.  Overall this is a great field trip to experience.

MEAL OPTION (optional, you do not have to participate)

Chicken wild rice soup
Vegan vegetable soup
Homemade buns, crackers
Dessert bar, coffee, and water
$10.

Saturday, February 16th Field Trips

*All field trips ( except the pre-festival trip to Sax-Zim Bog) will include a box lunch of 6-inch sub sandwich, chips, sweet snack and bottled water.

Sax-Zim Bog Field Trip
• Board the bus at 6:30 a.m. at the Meadowlands Community Center.
• Leave parking lot by 7:00 a.m.
• Trip ends at Meadowlands Community Center at 3:30 p.m.

The Sax Zim Bog is on most birders’ list of places to go to see northern birds. On this trip, the leaders will take you on several back roads in search of northern birds and Minnesota specialties. We will bird in the early morning hours to look for Great Gray Owls hunting for voles and mice along the roadsides. We’ll also stop at local feeding stations to look for Pine Grosbeaks, Evening Grosbeaks, Common Redpolls, Pine Siskins, Purple Finches, and possibly Gray Jays, Boreal Chickadee or a Hoary Redpoll. We’ll also stop at various places in the bog to look for Black-backed Woodpeckers working the trunks of tamarack and black spruce trees. If there are any stake-out locations for Northern Hawk Owls or Snowy Owls, the bus will visit these location as well. Other birds such as White-winged Crossbill, Red Crossbill, Black-billed Magpie, Northern Shrike, and Snow Bunting are all good possibilities to see on this trip.

There will a portable bathrooms at one of the feeding stations and along the Zim Road on the north end of “Bog”.

Duluth Field Trip
• Board the bus at 6:00 a.m. at the Meadowlands Community Center.
• Leave parking lot by 6:30 a.m.
• Pick up participants at the Perkins Restaurant at the Miller Hill Mall in Duluth at 7:15 a.m.
• Arrive at Perkins Restaurant at 3:00 p.m. to drop off participants who boarded the bus at this location. The bus will return to the Meadowlands Community Center by 3:45 p.m.

This trip heads right to Duluth to look for Snowy Owls in the harbor areas where we will also look for Thayer’s Gull, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, and possibly find a Great Black-backed Gull or a Lesser Black-backed Gull.  We will search the harbors in the event a Gyrfalcon is spending the winter near the grain elevators. If there are any stake-out Varied Thrushes or Townsend Solitaires in the Duluth area we will make sure to stop to find these casual western visitors. We’ll stop at the Canal Park area to see if any gulls are loafing on the break walls and scan through all the Common Goldeneyes for anything different such as a Long-tailed Duck, scoter species, or possibly a Harlequin Duck. We’ll stop at a feeder outside of Duluth to look for northern finches.

If you are lodging in Duluth and would rather not drive to Meadowlands to board the bus for this trip, note that the bus will stop at the Miller Hill Mall Perkins Restaurant parking lot to pick birders at 7:15 a.m., and returning there at 3:00 p.m. Please park your car in the mall parking lot and walk over to the restaurant. Directions to Perkins Restaurant if you are lodging along I-35, London Road, or in the Canal Park area in Duluth: Take I-35 to 21st Avenue West and exit on 21st Avenue West/U.S. Highway 53. Go north through 3 stoplights. When you come to the 4th stoplight (near the Home Depot) take a left turn toward the Miller Hill Mall and look to your right and you will see Perkins Restaurant. If you are lodging up near the Miller Hill Mall area (along U.S. Highway 53) you can walk to Perkins and leave your car at the hotel.

North Shore of Lake Superior Field Trip
• Board the bus at 5:30 am at the Meadowlands Community Center
• Leave parking lot by 6:00 am
• Pick up participants at the Perkins Restaurant at the Miller Hill Mall at 6:45 am
• Arrive at Perkins Restaurant at 3:15 pm to drop off participants who boarded the bus at this location.  The bus will return to the Meadowlands Community Center by 4:00 pm

The North Shore of Lake Superior is known not only for its stunning beauty but also for its ability to attract a variety of rare species, given the right season….and winter is no exception! On this trip, we hope to track down some wintering waterfowl: Possibilities include Harlequin Duck, Long-tailed Duck, or one or more of 3 species of Scoter. There is a potential for lingering loons, such as Pacific Loon, or even a surprise Eider! Winter gulls, such as Glaucous or Thayer’s Gulls are possible near water on this trip. Further away from the water, Bohemian Waxwings, both Crossbills, and rarities like Townsend’s Solitaire may frequent one of the many overlooks or parks along the drive north along Lake Superior. Other species that could be encountered along the drive north would be Snow Bunting, Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Shrike, and possibly one of our northern owls (during irruption winters). During the trip, we will also talk about the unique geology of the region, with some natural history of the boreal forest scattered throughout the trip.

Spruce Grouse Field Trip SOLD OUT
Limit: 10
Extra Fee: $20
Small van and car will be used for this trip. This is NOT a “bus” trip, it is a CARPOOL trip.
No snack lunch provided for this trip.

“Spruce grouse is one of the most enigmatic northwoods species and one of the most difficult to find, even if you know where to look! This field trip will be specifically targeting Spruce Grouse in northern Minnesota. These birds are difficult to find and if they are not found, there will still be a number of northern specialties to be had, such as Pine Grosbeak, Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, and crossbills.

We will stop at a few locations along Minnesota Birding’s most famous winter highway, Lake County Road 2 on the lookout for Spruce Grouse. The Spruce Grouse field trip will venture along forest roads and through old growth pine and spruce forest in search of the grouse and other northern specialties.”

Trip Leader: Clinton Nienhaus
Loading Location: From Perkins (near the Mall) in Duluth
Leaving Time: 5:00 am
Arrival Time: 4:00 pm
What to Bring: Binoculars, cameras, winter gear

Bird Photo Workshop
With John Pennoyer

Registration 7:30 AM
Session begins at 8:00 AM
Estimated ending time 3:00 -3:30 PM
Cost: $20 addition to any package, or $95 on its own. 

Growing up in Kalispell, Montana it was natural for me to be in the outdoors, whether it was hunting, fishing or just hiking in Glacier National Park. I moved to Minnesota to go to school and my intentions were to move back to Montana, but here I am still in Minnesota. After school I took up bowhunting and to further my time in the Northwoods of Minnesota, I also dived into photography. Little did I know how photography would begin to open my eyes on so many things besides Whitetail deer. I love to photograph the flora and fauna of Minnesota, but I also enjoy traveling and photographing around other parts of the country. My camera and lenses have always been Nikon but they are just the tools to get the image, it is the photographer’s vision to create the image. Many of my images have been used by Bowhunter Magazine, Peterson Bowhunting, Game and Fish Magazine, plus many other outdoor-related magazines, and various calendar and notecard companies.

John’s website is www.impressionsofnature.net

Sunday, February 17th

Sax-Zim Bog Field Trip
• Board the bus at 6:30 a.m. at the Meadowlands Community Center.
• Leave parking lot by 7:00 a.m.
• The trip ends at Meadowlands Community Center at 3:30 p.m.

The Sax Zim Bog is on most birders’ list of places to go to see northern birds. On this trip, the leaders will take you on several back roads in search of northern birds and Minnesota specialties. We will bird in the early morning hours to look for Great Gray Owls hunting along the roadside for voles and mice. We’ll also stop at local feeding stations for Pine Grosbeaks, Evening Grosbeaks, Common Redpolls, Pine Siskins, Purple Finches, and possibly Gray Jays, Boreal Chickadee or a Hoary Redpoll. We’ll also stop at a few known spots to look for Black-backed Woodpeckers and Three-toed Woodpeckers working the trunks of tamarack and black spruce trees. If there are any stake-out locations for Northern Hawk Owls or Snowy Owls, the trip will visit these locations as well. Other birds such as White-winged Crossbill, Red Crossbill, Black-billed Magpie, Northern Shrike, and Snow Bunting are all good possibilities to see on this trip.

There will be portable bathrooms at one of the feeding stations and along the Zim Road on the north end of “bog”.

Duluth Field Trip
• Board the bus at 6:00 a.m. at the Meadowlands Community Center.
• Leave parking lot by 6:30 a.m.
• Pick up participants at the Perkins Restaurant at the Miller Hill Mall in Duluth at 7:15 a.m.
• Arrive at Perkins Restaurant at 3:00 p.m. to drop off participants who boarded the bus at this location. The bus will return to the Meadowlands Community Center by 3:45 p.m.

This trip heads right to Duluth to look for Snowy Owls at the International Airport and down in the harbor areas to look for Thayer’s Gull, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, and possibly find a Great Black-backed Gull or a Lesser Black-backed Gull.  We will search the harbors in the event a Gyrfalcon is spending the winter near the grain elevators. If there are any stake-out Varied Thrushes or Townsend Solitaires in the Duluth area we will make sure to stop to find these casual western visitors. We’ll stop at the Canal Park area to see if any gulls are loafing on the break walls and scan through all the Common Goldeneyes for anything different such as a Long-tailed Duck, scoter species, or possibly a Harlequin Duck. We’ll stop at a feeder outside of Duluth to look for northern finches.

If you are lodging in Duluth and would rather not drive to Meadowlands to board the bus for this trip, note that the bus will stop at the Miller Hill Mall Perkins Restaurant parking lot to pick birders at 7:15 a.m., and returning there at 3:00 p.m. Please park your car in the mall parking lot and walk over to the restaurant. Directions to Perkins Restaurant if you are lodging along I-35, London Road, or in the Canal Park area in Duluth: Take I-35 to 21st Avenue West and exit on 21st Avenue West/U.S. Highway 53. Go north through 3 stoplights. When you come to the 4th stoplight (near the Home Depot) take a left turn toward the Miller Hill Mall and look to your right and you will see Perkins Restaurant. If you are lodging up near the Miller Hill Mall area (along U.S. Highway 53) you can walk to Perkins and leave your car at the hotel.

North Shore of Lake Superior Field Trip
• Board the bus at 5:30 am at the Meadowlands Community Center
• Leave parking lot by 6:00 am
• Pick up participants at the Perkins Restaurant at the Miller Hill Mall at 6:45 am
• Arrive at Perkins Restaurant at 3:15 pm to drop off participants who boarded the bus at this location.  The bus will return to the Meadowlands Community Center by 4:00 pm

The North Shore of Lake Superior is known not only for its stunning beauty but also for its ability to attract a variety of rare species, given the right season….and winter is no exception! On this trip, we hope to track down some wintering waterfowl: Possibilities include Harlequin Duck, Long-tailed Duck, or one or more of 3 species of Scoter. There is a potential for lingering loons, such as Pacific Loon, or even a surprise Eider! Winter gulls, such as Glaucous or Thayer’s Gulls are possible near water on this trip. Further away from the water, Bohemian Waxwings, both Crossbills, and rarities like Townsend’s Solitaire may frequent one of the many overlooks or parks along the drive north along Lake Superior. Other species that could be encountered along the drive north would be Snow Bunting, Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Shrike, and possibly one of our northern owls (during irruption winters). During the trip, we will also talk about the unique geology of the region, with some natural history of the boreal forest scattered throughout the trip.