Recent News

More coming soon on 2019 goal of 10K County Tics in one year.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Maps and Books and such...

Based on research I took a first stab at my park breakdown for the year based on seasons and the desire to hit the corners of the state in all four seasons if possible. I'm sure I will refine many times as New Years nears...

And of course the book that started all this madness of wanting to do all the parks in a single year. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Content Streams & Planning

Planning continues as I begin to look at seasonal timings for State Park trips and figuring out ways to hit the different state areas equally in all seasons of a single year. I'm sure I'll end up having to throw out a lot of planning in favor of grinding out park visits when the opportunity rises, but I can at least try to put something together as a blue print.

I did some editing on the blog design and was able to figure out how to put my Twitter feed on the blog using a Twitter widget. Not difficult at all and should allow me to tweet on birding days fun details, etc...

I also was able to find a free widget for getting my Instagram feed up on the blog as well. This will be right across the top of the page in a banner for the time being. I'm not a huge fan of the images linking to a non-Instagram page to view the larger image content, but I guess it's the price to pay for free widgets.

More to come as the 2018 planning and content design moves forward and I try to close out my 2017 Washington County Big Year effort. (Found a small group of FOF Common Redpoll today at Belwin Ballfields as well as some Fox Sparrows. Also had a FOF Rough-legged Hawk at Lake Elmo Park along with my 3rd or 4th Northern Shrike.)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

More State Park Big Year Statistics

Afton State Park Statistics Post

Core Stats:

Total Different Parks/SRAs/etc Visited: 73 of 73

Total Trips to State Parks: 151

Miles Hiked: 638

State Park Species Seen: 222
Species Seen; Entire State: 266

Hottest Parks...
Lac Qui Parle: 51 species (1 visit)
Lake Bronson & Zippel Bay: 52 each (1 visit)
Afton: 180 species (55 visits)
William O'Brien: 99 species (6 visits) 
Lake Louise: 58 species (1 visit)

Coldest Parks...

Big Bog: 29 species (1 visit) (It was very hot and midday late June.)
Crow Wing: 21 species (1 visit)

State Month Ticks Before and After
January: 88 Before / 96 After
February: 87 Before / 90 After
March Tics: 127 Before / 129 After
April Tics: 174 Before / 179 After
May Tics: 227 Before / 242 After
June Tics: 145 Before / 183 After
July Tics: 135 Before / 164 After
August Tics: 164 Before / 168 After
Odd Statistics:

State Waysides Visited: 2 of 9
Waterfalls Seen in State Parks: ~15 (I lost count, I'm going to have to review the photos...)

Mammals Identified: 19 [Mink: Lake Bronson, Franklin's Ground Squirrel: Gooseberry Falls, Snowshoe Hare: Tettegouche, Raccoon: Banning, North American Beaver: William O'Brien, Muskrat: Afton, Eastern Chipmunk: Afton, Buffalo: Minneopa, Eastern Cottontail Rabbit: Minneopa, Red Squirrel:Many, White-tailed Deer:Many, Coyote:Whitewater & Lac Qui Parle, Fox Squirrel:Frontenac & Rice Lake, Porcupine:Scenic, Red Fox: Monson Lake, River Otter: Fort Snelling by track only., Bat Species: Afton, Gray Squirrel: Afton, 13-Lined Ground Squirrel: Afton]

Reptiles: 5 [Painted Turtle: Several, Fox Snake: Afton, Garter Snake: Several, Snapping Turtle: Afton, Northern Map Turtle: Wild River]

Wildflowers Identified: Lost count of so many flowers and lost a list weeks ago that was to be added. I'm sure it is beyond 100 at this point. Bummer, will have to figure out an app to track this stuff in the future... 28 (Gooseberry, Spring Cress, Dame's Rocket, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Thimbleweed, Large-Flowered Trillium, Downy Yellow Violet, Birdfoot Violet, Kidney-leafed Buttercup, Wild Geranium, Garlic Mustard, Wild Strawberry, Rue Anemone, Wood Anemone, Sharp-lobed Hepatica, Round-lobed Hepatica, False Rue Anemone, Skunk Cabbage, Marsh Marigold, Bloodroot, Virginia Spring Beauty, Dandelion, White Trout Lily, Bellwort, Virginia Bluebell, Dutchmen's Breeches)

Butterflies/Moths: 15 (American Copper, Bronze Copper, Great-spangled Fritillary, White Admiral, Monarch, Viceroy, Giant Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail, Zebulon Skipper, White-striped Black Moth, Mourning Cloak, Comma, Blue Karner, Red Admiral, Painted Lady)

Pre-2018 Statistics

Total State Parks Visited: 9 (8 Bird Watching)
Life State Park Total: 174 (152 in 2017)


Total Parks will be the number of parks, state recreational areas, and waysides I have visited since the first day of 2018.

Total Trips will be the number of times I've gone to any State Park in 2018 to bird watch and hike. Meaning multiple trips are expected for several parks close to home and those with a very large number of trails to explore like Itasca and St. Croix.

Miles Hiked is pretty obvious, the number of miles covered by foot when birding at the State Parks.

Species Seen will be the total number of bird species observed in all state designated locations to date.

Species Seen; Entire State will be my bird species total for the entire state including non-state locations. Such as birds seen while driving or side efforts to see prior found birds of high rarity.

I may add other statistics as they come into view during the big year, such as highest count single eBird list from any park. Park with the highest species count observed, my money would be on Afton or William O'Brien considering my personal proximity to them.

Maybe gee wiz numbers like miles driven or hours driven during the year to lend perspective to how much of an effort it is to do this amount of birding in a year.

Old News

Going to use this space to store other news items for the year as they roll off the main page so I can get to them later if needed.

MRVAC Presentation: 9/27 at 7pm (7:30 present start) I will be presenting on how to find more rare birds. Their events are free and open to the public. It will be held at the National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 3801 American Blvd E, Bloomington MN.
Star Tribune: Interview and photo of mine in the Star for the Roseate Spoonbill that was found by Kevin Smith as a first state record in MN.

Article for MOU Newsletter: I wrote a new piece on Blue Mounds State Park and birding in rough weather. MOU members only.

Article for St. Croix Lowdown: I wrote a piece on the bird soundscape of William O'Brien State Park. Hope you enjoy.
MPR Radio Segment: My appearance on MPR for a segment on bird watching. Podcast link.

Friends of Sax-Zim Bog: I have committed to donate and raise money for this great organization as part of their big half year for the bog. My big year is of course finding birds in the MN state parks. Follow this link to my page if you wish to donate and help fund their excellent work in preserving bog lands for future generations to enjoy. Big Douglas Bog Link.

Grey Cloud - Big Watch: I will be guiding all day at Grey Cloud Dunes SNA for the 3rd edition of our Big Watch run by Sharon Stitler. This will be May 19th starting at 7AM and going to dark where we hope to hear the Eastern Whip-poor-will sing.

Frontenac Warbler Walk: I will be guiding an MOU sponsored hike at Frontenac State Park looking for all birds, but specializing in warblers. May 12th at 7AM meet at the main parking lot at the end of park road. Planning on a 4 hour birding effort.

Hastings Earth Day Festival: I'll be guiding at Afton State Park in the morning and presenting on gear in the afternoon at Carpenter Nature Center. Check it out this weekend!!

MOU Spring Primer: I'll be co-presenting on our Washington Count big year in 2017 with Dr. Peter Nichols at the MOU Spring kick off event to be held March 31st at Carpenter Nature Center. See the MOU website for upcoming details.

MOU Members: The first half of my article A Big Year in Washington County is now available to read in the January/February edition of MN Birding News.

MOU Article Part 2: The epic conclusion to my article in the MOU Newsletter is now live for MOU members.

Fellow birder and local celebrity Birdchick (Sharon Stiteler) wrote an article on some Common Redpoll behavior I observed and photographed recently in Lake Elmo.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Seed of an Idea

I'm updating this blog to prep for a potential State Park big year effort in MN, with the focus being on seeing all the parks while birding. Not necessarily on seeing every species possible in the State Parks. The effort will be focused on hiking and adventure, not chasing birds. The core bird list will be personally found examples as opposed to running after someone else's finds though I'll be doing plenty of research and timing of visits to maximize my results.

Spotted Sandpiper found on the beach area of Big Marine Park in Northern Washington County

The seed or genesis of this idea was reading Bob Janssen's book on birding in the Minnesota State Parks. I found the idea of the adventure, alluring, but quickly found reasons not to do so. I spent most of 2017 thinking about this grand adventure and wanting to do it next level. It simply wouldn't leave my mind to figure out a way to fit in a full time job, being married, and owning a home with visiting all 75 state parks in a single year.

I've done the math several times and it will be a lot of driving and demand much of me as I would desire to set some standards like minimum amount of time spent in each park and/or minimum amount of trail hiked.

After talking with my wife about the nature of my inner desires, she supports me doing this. I feel the call of the wild deep within me. Perhaps it is being cooped up in a cubicle all day that drives this desire to break free and explore.

For now planning continues as I have a spreadsheet with all the parks listed, distances from home, and groupings for those that are so distance that they may demand a more focused multi-day trip in order to visit several in one loop or circuit. More to come as I plan this grand adventure and attempt to bring 2017 to a close in my on going Big Year in Washington County. (Currently sitting at 231 species, the second highest total I'm aware of every occurring in the county.)