McGregor to Thief River Falls
Due to the late night yesterday, we started a little later today. We birded the Pallisade area, including Pietz's Road and the nearby snowmobile trail. We finally got our Connecticut Warbler on the snowmobile trail. A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was also heard there. New birds from the nearby roads included Sedge Wren, Veery, and Eastern Meadowlark.
We walked into the forest off the snowmobile. This is an different environment where the forest floor consists of sphagnum moss, and understory plants include Labrador Tea and Pink Lady's Slippers. The water level varies. Today it was below the top of the moss, so one could wander about dry-footed.
The snowmobile trail is also home to a large number of ticks. I only found one on my pants, but other members of the group had rather more. We also kept finding them in the van the rest of the day. One was even crawling along the car's ceiling above me!
We were threatened by storms as we drove toward Thief River Falls, but ended up skirting most of the bad weather. Chimney Swifts were spotted in transit. The storms were pretty serious, generating a number of tornadoes. Some were deadly, with 3 people killed. At one point we were getting emergency weather bulletins every 5-10 minutes over our radios. Fortunately for us, nothing was headed our way.
Our other birding location today was the Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge, named after the noted paleontologist Louis Agassiz. This was a complete change of habitat and yielded many new species for the trip. We found a couple of Marbled Godwits on the way there and Black-billed Magpie near the entrance. Once inside the refuge, we quickly spotted Red-necked Grebe, Black Tern, Forster's Tern, and Yellow-headed Blackbird. We also found a Bufflehead with chicks.
The visitor's center added Brown-headed Cowbird, Pine Siskin, and Northern Rough-winged Swallow. As we drove around the refuge, we found Lesser Scaup, Gadwall, and Marsh Wren. A couple of Soras called from a point near the van. The rain finally caught up with us, and soon became heavy. We experienced the unusual combination of heavy rain and sun, which combined to briefly create whiteout-like conditions. Then it abruptly cleared. As we left the refuge, a Western Meadowlark was seen by some.
Our current totals are 133 bird species and 12 mammal species.
Best Western, Thief River Falls, MN