2015-02-02 - 7:17 p.m.
I was twitching to get going so I possibly arrived at the airport a tad too early, especially since all I had to do was drop my bags at the first class bag drop and stroll through the otherwise empty TSA PreChek line. I'm rolling, they hating, life goes on.
There's a snowstorm in the east, and I heard some people whose flight to Detroit got cancelled try to book our flight to MSP. Because anywhere in the north is the same as anywhere in the north, ja? Too bad, suckers. Our flight was completely full. Even the first class cabin seemed to host actual customers, instead of the usual overstock of Delta crew members.
Before the flight boarded, someone announced that the beverage service was running late so First Class passengers should not nag the FAs for the frosty pre-departure beverage. Nobody nagged, but maybe our pitiful looks sent the message, because we did get a full service before the flight departed. Make mine a Bailey's on the rocks! There was a hot sandwich for dinner, so it was actually kinda sorta OK. My connection in the Duluth gave me enough time to walk up and see the Superbowl tied before halftime. Not that I give a flying about either of these teams.
The flight to Duluth was only 29 minutes, but we still got a pre-departure bevvie and a follow-up inflight drink. The snack basket was just I think peanuts (?) and cookies. Not sure about the salty snack since I took the cookies to befriend my lonely Bailey's.
I got a cab to the hotel which gave the chance to hear that even my taxi cab driver has seen the Snowy Owl. "One time I got one of them trapped in my barn," he said.
Groundhog Day was a clear dry day with what I would consider a decent amount of snow on the ground, although there was much discussion about the lack of snow this year compared to last year. The day started with a bang, as I got a great look at a perched Northern Hawk Owl. Amazing. It was in some ways very like a little toy bird but it was extremely alert and several times turned its head to look me dead in the eyes. This little owl was not one whit impressed by mere humans.
One of the top sightings of the day came when we were checking out a feeder set-up, and a juvenile Northern Goshawk stopped by to do the same. You would not believe the angry stir among the smaller finchy set! Everybody from a Blue Jay to the Common Redpolls and Pine Siskins wanted to have a word, and the Goshawk ended up being escorted out of view by one of the more impressive little mobs of angry birds I've seen.
The third, and perhaps most spectacular, bird of the day was the Rough-Legged Hawk. We saw two adult females, first perched, who then got up and soared around some and even kited quite a bit here and there to provide spectacular views of their wonderful patterns. An amazing birds and one of the holes on my life list, finally filled.
In the afternoon, we went strolling in a snowy woods in search of the uncooperative Black-backed Woodpecker, and in the evening, we staked out the Great Grey Owl spot while watching the colorful sunset, but we struck out on those two. Still, I added quite a number of new birds today. I have my day's list scribbled in any kind of order, but the lifers will be in bold so I can come back and add them to my world life list later.
Update from Years Later/Now It Can Be Revealed: At the time I was sworn to secrecy, but the BIG bird of the trip was the Gyrfalcon-- lifer of the year if not the decade!
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