For our second day, Josh had decided to take us to the Duluth area, which included nearby Superior, Wisconsin. This was located about 75 miles from our base near Virginia, Minnesota, but encompasses a vastly different array of habitat and birds as these twin cities are located on the western point of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area. So this day meant looking for gulls instead of owls, and gulls are probably one of my weakest strengths when it comes to bird identification. There are a couple of reasons for the tough identification of these birds. First they are notoriously known for hybridizing which adds to the confusion of field marks. Secondly, gulls do not mature until they are anywhere from 2 years in age to 4 years in age and each year they appear a bit different. And on top of this, residing in Arizona, adds to the difficulty in learning ID gulls. After all, Arizona is not considered a gull mecca by any stretch of the imagination. Yes, we do see gulls, but not in large numbers and in large variety of species. Earlier in January, a couple of Ivory Gulls paid a visit to this area, which is a mega rarity and it drew birders from far and wide. Unfortunately, at least one of them perished and most likely the second did as well and we were to miss out on this specialty do to some unfortunate timing.
Gulls were not the only birds on the slate for this day. Some other keys birds were being reported in Superior; Snowy Owl and Gyrfalcon. And both of these birds were targets for us as well. We started out early in the morning attempting to find Snowy Owls. They had been reported at several different spots in Superior. After spending an hour or more and not being able to locate any, we decided to look for the Gyrfalcon that seemed to call the Peavey grain elevators his home. Excellent choice by this bird as the number of Rock Pigeons in this area is extremely high and a great food source from day to day. Josh had seen a report that it had been seen a short ½ hour before we arrived and as we scrutinized and scoped the top of the grain elevator we were not having any luck, but suddenly we spied it flying in and landing on the corner of the highest point and a long distance away. It did not stay long and it took us while to relocate it and then it actually flew towards us and landed on a roof where we could observe it well, but still far away for great photos. But in this case one has to take what one can get as this bird is not an easy bird to find in the lower 48. Not only did I take photos with my camera, I also attempted to take my first digiscope photo by holding my iPhone up to Tommy's spotting scope. The first life bird of the day for Tommy and I.