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Lifebird #556 – Scrabbling for One More

Least BitternJoann and I added a whole slew of new birds to our life lists during a visit to Costa Rica in January of this year. Then, that same month, we added a Snowy Owl right here in the Twin Cities. I thought there was a chance that would be my last lifer. If it had been, I would have been content with getting what had been a “nemesis bird” and reaching the aesthetically pleasing number 555.

As it turns out, despite my inability to use binoculars, I wasn’t quite done.

(The photograph featured here was taken by Sharilyn Thompson and posted on Facebook. This is very likely a photo of the same individual we saw. Please click on the image for more.)

A Least Bittern turned up at the Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield and was reported on the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union (MOU) mailing list at least a couple of weeks ago. These birds aren’t exactly rarities in Minnesota, but mostly because of this species’ secretive ways, one is always a “good find” and worthy of attention. When one is found in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, even better!

Despite its being a species we “needed,” for two weeks Joann and I didn’t make any effort to go see it. Until fate intervened. On Tuesday we planned to make a very rare appearance at my Scrabble club. Joann would go along to draw and play tiles for me. But we got a late start and it was clear we would not be there in time for the 6:00 PM round. Wood Lake is about two miles from the club, so I suggested we take a quick look around it for the bird and get to the club in time for the 7:00 PM round.

This was a long shot. We didn’t have any information about where exactly the bird had been seen and it’s a big nature preserve. But we were lucky to come across a trail walker who was able to tell us where to look, and just a few minutes after finding that spot, there the bird was. Joann found it in her binoculars and then put up the scope for me. I rolled up in my wheelchair and got an eyeful of life bird #556! (Not that it was out in the open. Bittern’s are shy birds. The look we got of the it was almost exactly the same one represented in the photograph above.)

Species  Least Bittern / Ixobrychus exilis
Where Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield, Minnesota
When August 19, 2014
With Joann
Number 556

See lifebird index.

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