Generally Awesome Bird Trip

Saturday morning Non Birding Bill and I were two ships passing in the night. Friday night, he went to his show opening. He mentioned that there would probably be some sort of cast party. I told him that since I needed to be up at 5am and I would decline the invitation. I went to bed at a sensible time and fell asleep. I woke when I heard Bill come in to the bedroom from his party. I rolled over to check the time and saw it was 4:30am--I was getting up in a half hour.

Here is a photo of the oh-so-slippery Hedbom Road in Aitkin County, Minnesota. I say slippery because on the field trip yesterday I was stepping out of the van and fell ass over tea kettle right on the road, bouncing my rib cage off of the door. In my effort to recover what little of my dignity I had left, I scurried to the back of the van to grab the scope and banged it right into my face--giving em a lovely gash on my gums and chin. Fortunately, the birds more than made up for my clumsiness and really nothing says "great bird trip" like some bruises.

Right before we made it to Hedbom Road, we were admiring some black-billed magpies when the group ran into Kim Risen, publisher and editor of Nature Scape News. When I went to his site to link up to him for this entry, I found that I had an article up there on bird feeding, whoot! I forgot about that one. Kim told us that he'd had just seen some great gray owls and great woodpeckers at Hedbom and we should get over there.

Hedbom has been great for northern woodpeckers like this female black-backed woodpecker above. These birds just don't care about people. The group stopped when we saw here at eye level about 10 feet in front of us. After several photos she flew over the group and landed on a tree right behind us busily pecking away for food.

The highlight for me was seeing a male three-toed woodpecker, I've never seen one before and this guy put on quite a show. I digiscoped this image using a Nikon Coolpix 4500 and a Swarovski ATS 80 HD scope.

Stan Tekiela led the trip with me. Here he is showing the group what the woodpeckers found so tasty in the trees on Hedbom.

You can see where the bark has been peeled away by the woodpeckers to reveal the tunnelings of beetle larvae.

Look at that teeny tiny larvae in Stan's palm--that's what the peckers are after. All that work for that tiny, squirming bit of protein.

We also went to see a northern hawk owl that's been seen this winter outside of the Coffee Cabin in Duluth. One of the best parts of the trip was getting to spend the day with HellZiggy and Hasty Brook (who spotted a grouse high up in the tree during the trip). HellZiggy got some great shots of the birds and you can view the gallery here and her shots of the hawk owl are better than mine. The batteries in my camera were not interested in functioning in the zero degrees.

Everyone had packed a lunch and I had a big bag of candy for some snacking. Many of us were ready for something salty after all those sweets. The last half hour of the trip home had great conversation:

-Various recipes that include bacon
-What foods will you absolutely not eat
-If you're on a deserted island with no food, I'm apparently the one to kill and eat first

Needless to say some of us were in dire need of a good salty dinner and headed to Outback when we got home. It was fun to hang out with so many bloggers.

Man, I am exhausted. Yesterday was some hard core birding and today I took a bunch bunny photos at an adoption event at the Golden Valley Humane Society. I don't know if I'm awake enough to post those photo tonight. I'm having enough trouble trying to find a way to end this entry.