Although the summary of the 2017 Watonwan-Cottonwood-Murray MBW

describes a May trip, the birding in September will be somewhat similar.

Also see the summary of a May 2014 MBW (mostly in Brown Co.)

following the summary of the 2017 MBW.


__________



Watowan-Cottonwood-Murray MBW Summary

May 12-13-14, 2017


There may have been too much dust on the gravel roads all three days, too much wind on Saturday, and then there was Sunday’s amazing but disconcerting birding report from those mudflats where we were on Saturday (see below). But we certainly came up with a very nice assortment of birds as evidenced by our composite total of 145 species, with 121 of these on Friday’s pre-MBW (all but 3 of them in Watonwan Co), and 128 on the main Cottonwood-Murray MBW.


Our effort in Watonwan County was especially satisfying, since this under-birded county is generally considered as less interesting than the other two we visited. Besides the Summer Tanager (see photo below), our other highlights that day included an unusually cooperative and visible Least Bittern, a pair of Red-necked Grebes at their Case Lake nest, two Orchard Orioles, and 17 warbler species – including a close Cape May and multiple Golden-wingeds.


On Saturday we were only able to add two more warblers to bring our final list to 19 species, but we certainly did much better on shorebirds. While we could only manage to find seven shorebird species in Watonwan (we only ran across one flooded field), there were 12 species in Murray just at that nice flooded area on the Lyon County line. A Hudsonian Godwit was the best bird, but there were also American Golden-Plovers, several White-rumped Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitchers, and Dunlins.


However, we would have done much better there on Sunday after a whole lot more migrants had arrived: a total of no fewer than 21 shorebird species (!), including a photographed Western Sandpiper (see photo below), an avocet, a count of 17 Hudsonians (not just one), and around 1,000 peeps.


Also of interest on this windy Saturday was a lone Lark Sparrow in Cottonwood and two apparent and out-of-season Red-breasted Mergansers in Murray, on Sunday there was a boldly visible Virginia Rail just east of Windom, and most of us on the way home had time to coax a reluctant Henslow’s Sparrow out of a Brown County grassland that Brian had found the day before. (A few in the group also stopped at the Sleepy Eye sewage ponds later and “unofficially" found Willet, Ruddy Turnstone, Stilt Sandpiper, and Sanderling.)


Bird List


W = Watonwan Co May 12

C = Cottonwood Co May 13-14

M = Murray Co May 13


Canada Goose        WCM

Trumpeter Swan        WCM

Wood Duck        WCM

Gadwall        WCM

American Wigeon        M

Mallard        WCM

Blue-winged Teal        WCM

Northern Shoveler        WM

Northern Pintail        M

Green-winged Teal        M

Redhead        WC

Ring-necked Duck      (Blue Earth Co only)

Lesser Scaup        WM

Hooded Merganser        W

Red-breasted Merganser        M

Ruddy Duck        WCM

Ring-necked Pheasant        WCM

Wild Turkey        WC

Pied-billed Grebe        WC

Red-necked Grebe        W

Rock Pigeon        WCM

Eurasian Collared-Dove        WCM

Mourning Dove        WCM

Common Nighthawk        C

Chimney Swift        CM

Ruby-throated Hummingbird        WC

Virginia Rail        WCM

Sora        WCM

American Coot        WCM

American Golden-Plover        M

Semipalmated Plover        M

Killdeer        WCM

Hudsonian Godwit        M

Dunlin        WM

Least Sandpiper        WCM

White-rumped Sandpiper        CM

Pectoral Sandpiper        WM

Semipalmated Sandpiper        CM

Short-billed Dowitcher        M

Spotted Sandpiper        WCM

Greater Yellowlegs        W

Lesser Yellowlegs        WM

Ring-billed Gull        W

Black Tern        WCM

Forster's Tern        WCM

Double-crested Cormorant        WC

American White Pelican        WCM

American Bittern        WC

Least Bittern        W

Great Blue Heron        WC

Green Heron        W

Turkey Vulture        WCM

Bald Eagle        WC

Northern Harrier        WCM

Sharp-shinned Hawk        C

Broad-winged Hawk        WC

Red-tailed Hawk        WCM

Belted Kingfisher        WCM

Red-headed Woodpecker        WC

Red-bellied Woodpecker        WC

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker        WC

Downy Woodpecker        WC

Hairy Woodpecker        WC

Northern Flicker        WCM

Pileated Woodpecker        W

Least Flycatcher        WCM

Eastern Phoebe        WC

Great Crested Flycatcher        WC

Eastern Kingbird        WCM

Yellow-throated Vireo        WC

Blue-headed Vireo        WC

Warbling Vireo        WCM

Blue Jay        WC

American Crow        WCM

Horned Lark        CM

Purple Martin        M

Tree Swallow        WCM

Northern Rough-winged Swallow        WCM

Bank Swallow        WM

Cliff Swallow        WCM

Barn Swallow        WCM

Black-capped Chickadee        WC

White-breasted Nuthatch        WCM

House Wren        WCM

Sedge Wren        WCM

Marsh Wren        WCM

Ruby-crowned Kinglet        WC

Veery        W

Gray-cheeked Thrush        WCM

Swainson's Thrush        WCM

American Robin        WC

Gray Catbird        WC

Brown Thrasher        WCM

European Starling        WCM

Cedar Waxwing        C

House Sparrow        WCM

American Pipit        CM

House Finch        WCM

American Goldfinch        WCM

Ovenbird        WC

Northern Waterthrush        WC

Golden-winged Warbler        W

Black-and-white Warbler        WC

Tennessee Warbler        WC

Orange-crowned Warbler        W

Nashville Warbler        WC

Common Yellowthroat        WC

American Redstart        WC

Cape May Warbler        W

Magnolia Warbler        WC

Blackburnian Warbler        C

Yellow Warbler        WCM

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler        WC

Palm Warbler        WCM

Yellow-rumped Warbler        WCM

Black-throated Green Warbler        W

Wilson's Warbler        C

Chipping Sparrow        WCM

Clay-colored Sparrow        WCM

Field Sparrow        WC

Vesper Sparrow        WCM

Lark Sparrow        C

Savannah Sparrow        WCM

Grasshopper Sparrow        C

Henslow's Sparrow     (Brown Co only)

Song Sparrow        WCM

Lincoln's Sparrow        WC

Swamp Sparrow        WCM

White-throated Sparrow        WCM

Harris's Sparrow        WCM

White-crowned Sparrow        M

Summer Tanager        W

Scarlet Tanager        W

Northern Cardinal        WC

Rose-breasted Grosbeak        WCM

Indigo Bunting        C

Bobolink        CM

Red-winged Blackbird        WCM

Western Meadowlark        C

Yellow-headed Blackbird        WCM

Common Grackle        WCM

Brown-headed Cowbird        WCM

Orchard Oriole        W

Baltimore Oriole        WCM



“Digibin” image of the immature male Summer Tanager

at Long Lake Park, Watonwan Co. (KRE photo)

Western Sandpiper on Sunday – but, alas, not Saturday – in that flooded field

on the Murray-Lyon county line (Garrett Wee photo)




*            *            *




MINNESOTA RIVER VALLEY / BROWN CO. MBW SUMMARY  ~  May 10-11, 2014



This Summer Tanager first called to our attention by George L was certainly the rarest thing we found during this MBW, although note this was just one of three photographed in MN this weekend – see photo below. (Ours was the only male in full plumage, though, so that has to count for something.) 


I'd say it also counts for a lot that this was not the only highlight of our MBW as we came up with an unexpected and impressive total of 143 species. Of these, 122 were in Brown County, with 116 of them in Brown on Saturday (plus 3 others elsewhere that day). And I was indeed surprised that we saw so many birds since there were no fall-outs or warbler waves anywhere that we encountered, but we still pieced together a nice list of 17 warbler species. We also came up with the same total of shorebirds, with a tip from Linda directing us to drawn-down Sand Lake in Sibley County to see 14 shorebirds on Sunday afternoon on our way home. The best of these was that Willet, but of note there as well were a Ruddy Turnstone, a few White-rumped Sandpipers, Dunlins, and Short-billed Dowitchers.


Other highlights included an unexpected adult Common Tern at the Sleepy Eye sewage ponds, along with an impressive total there of 290 Wilson's Phalaropes. That posing-for-photos Harris's Sparrow along with the other birds hiding from the wind in that modest patch of woods by Lone Tree Lake illustrated that the best migrant traps are often chanced upon at unpredictable places. Those who were awake enough for Saturday evening's birding were treated to displaying woodcocks, a Barred Owl, and nighthawks overhead while practically standing at a single spot. And that nice side road in Blue Earth County by the gravel pit provided our list with Lark Sparrow, Bobolink, and a few other noteworthy things besides the tanager. 



BIRD LIST


Note: all species found in Brown County, except 21 "non-Brown" species ...


Renville = R (Sat. pm, briefly)

Nicollet = N (Sat. pm & Sun. am, both briefly)

Blue Earth = BE (Sun. am)

Sibley = S (Sun. pm @Sand L)


(species seen in these counties not indicated if also seen in Brown County)


Canada Goose

Trumpeter Swan      N

Wood Duck

Gadwall

Mallard

Blue-winged Teal

Northern Shoveler

Green-winged Teal      S

Ring-necked Duck

Lesser Scaup

Bufflehead

Hooded Merganser

Ruddy Duck

Ring-necked Pheasant

Wild Turkey

Common Loon

Pied-billed Grebe

Double-crested Cormorant

American White Pelican

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Turkey Vulture

Osprey

Bald Eagle

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Virginia Rail      N

Sora

American Coot

Semipalmated Plover      BE, S

Killdeer

Spotted Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper

Greater Yellowlegs      BE

Willet      S

Lesser Yellowlegs

Ruddy Turnstone      S

Dunlin      BE,S

Least Sandpiper

White-rumped Sandpiper      S

Pectoral Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper      BE, S

Short-billed Dowitcher      BE, S

Wilson's Snipe      N

American Woodcock

Wilson's Phalarope

Franklin's Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Black Tern

Common Tern

Rock Pigeon

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Mourning Dove

Barred Owl

Common Nighthawk

Chimney Swift

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker

American Kestrel

Least Flycatcher

Eastern Phoebe

Great Crested Flycatcher

Eastern Kingbird

Yellow-throated Vireo

Blue-headed Vireo

Warbling Vireo

Blue Jay

American Crow

Purple Martin

Tree Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Bank Swallow      BE

Cliff Swallow

Barn Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee

White-breasted Nuthatch

House Wren

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Eastern Bluebird      R, N, BE

Swainson's Thrush

American Robin

Gray Catbird

Brown Thrasher

European Starling

American Pipit      BE

Cedar Waxwing      N

Ovenbird

Northern Waterthrush

Golden-winged Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

Tennessee Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

American Redstart

Cape May Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Palm Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Wilson's Warbler

Eastern Towhee

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow      BE

Lark Sparrow      BE

Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Lincoln's Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Harris's Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Summer Tanager      BE

Scarlet Tanager

Northern Cardinal

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Indigo Bunting

Bobolink      BE

Red-winged Blackbird

Eastern Meadowlark      BE

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird

Common Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

Orchard Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

House Finch

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow



Roy Zimmerman photo