MINNESOTA: Canada Lynx and Northern Owls 2019

DATES & PRICES
Tour Dates: Sunday 24th February – Tuesday 5th March 2019 (Duluth to Duluth)
Tour Price: £2,299 per person plus flight (includes breakfast only)
Estimated Flight Price: London to Duluth return approx. £700 return

Conservation Donation from Wise Birding: Approx. £240 – £280
Deposit: £450 per person
Minimum Number required for trip to run: 6 people
Maximum Group Size: 7 people
Accommodation: 9 nights bed and breakfast: 2 nights Duluth, 7 nights Grand Marais  

Key Birds:
Great Grey Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, Snowy Owl, Pine Grosbeak, Evening Grosbeak, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Ruffed Grouse, Spruce Grouse, Grey Jay and rarities!

Key Mammals:
Canada Lynx, Wolf, Moose, Fisher, American Marten, Northern Flying Squirrel, North American Porcupine, Bobcat and Snowshoe Hare are all possible.

Conservation work that you will directly contribute to by joining this holiday: SEE HERE

TOUR SUMMARY & FULL ITINERARY
This tour is based in the far NE state of Minnesota, close to the Canadian border and on the north shore of the mighty Lake Superior. We will be based near the town of Grand Marais focusing our time on trying to see Canada or Canadian Lynx. This fantastic mammal, like most cats, is very elusive and shy, but with help from our local guide and his previous experience of tracking these animals, we have a reasonable chance of finding this beautiful animal. Of course, we shall not only be looking for Lynx as there are many other special mammals in this area too including Fisher, American Marten and Wolves!
Scroll down for Lynx Video filmed on one of our trail cameras during the 2018 tour

At the beginning of the tour we will visit the Sax Zim Bog area which has in recent years become known as the owl hotspot! These will be long days, but they should be worth it!
Great Grey Owl is a resident species with Northern Hawk Owl a regular annual visitor and the views of these birds can be incredible. Snowy Owls are expected at this time of year also and if we are lucky enough to coincide with an “irruption year” the numbers of owls can be exceptional for all species. Northern Saw-whet Owl and Boreal Owl are also possible though harder to find. Aside from owls there are plenty of other specialities to be found including Evening Grosbeak and Pine Grosbeak feeding on garden feeders, displaying Sharp-tailed Grouse, Boreal Chickadees and more!

Our first tour in 2016 was successful with a brief sighting of Canadian Lynx along with some fantastic Wolf encounters, Moose, American Marten and Fisher. Bird highlights were many also with Pine Grosbeak, Evening Grosbeak, Snowy Owl, Ivory Gull, Gyr Falcon to name just a few of the highlights!
Our 2017 and 2018 tours were a huge success with incredible views of Canada Lynx as the photo above (taken during our 2018 tour) shows!

PM2-1600DAY 1
After arriving into Duluth airport, we shall collect our vehicle and then travel the very short distance to our hotel for the night. Overnight Duluth

DAY 2

Today we shall spend the whole day exploring Sax Zim Bog and Duluth birding areas. The main focus shall be on the owls that are so special to this area of bog, meadow and forest habitat. Although numbers fluctuate from year to year, Great Grey Owl and Northern
SnowyHawk Owl are expected and during an irruption winter, amazing numbers and species are possible. In previous irruption years, daily totals of 10 or more owls are not unusual. In 2005, a record number 200 Great Grey Owls were recorded in just a single county in the region! Boreal Owl, like the Great Grey Owl is a resident species, but a tricky one to find. Snowy Owls are again expected, though numbers vary from year to year. Birds can usually be found around the Duluth area and the adjacent town of Superior where bird often hang around the buildings and the small airport in search of food. If we are lucky, Gyr Falcon is also a possibility with up to three different birds seen during the 2015/16 winter! To ensure our success with the tricky species, we shall spend one full day with a local bird guide whose local knowledge and up to date information will be invaluable in helping us getting to see as many owl species as possible! Other species that we shall be targeting include Spruce Grouse, Black-backed and American Three-toed Woodpeckers, Boreal Chickadee, Grey Jay, Pine and Evening Grosbeak. Commoner resident species include Red-breated and White-breasted Nuthatches, Downy, Hairy and Pileated Woodpeckers, Blue Jay and Black-backed Chickadee. Rarities in this region during past winters have included varied Thrush, Townsend’s Solitaire, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Ivory Gull and Slaty-backed Gull.
Mammals are also present around Sax Zim with good chances for North American Porcupine, American Marten as well as outside chances of Fisher, Wolf and Bobcat.

DAY 3
After breakfast we will check-out of our hotel and PG-male-1600spend the morning targeting any species that we are still missing before making our way along the north shore of  Lake Superior until we reach the small town of Grand Marais and our base for the next 7 nights. If we arrive in good time, we will have a look around the harbour for any seaduck which sometimes holds rarer species such as Bufflehead or Harlequin Duck. The afternoon will be spent slowly driving the minor roads around the Gunflint Trail for our first chance of Lynx!  Overnight Grand Marais

Moose-1600DAYS 4 – 9
During the next seven days we shall focus on trying to see Canada Lynx around the Gunflint Trail, as advised by the most recent information from our local guide and tracker. These will involve long days in the field and may involve numerous hours waiting at sites visible from the vehicle. We shall visit a number of sites where our guide has created screens and left natural attractants and we shall monitor activity at these sites using trail cameras in order to give us the best chance of connecting with this elusive cat. GJ-1600As with most mammal watching, dawn and dusk will be the times when we shall focus most effort. There will also be some late night spotlighting if the weather allows. Other mammal possibilities in this region are many and could include Coyote, Wolf, Snowshoe Hare, Stoat, Red Fox and other species such as Fisher and American Marten.

light-wolf-1600During the day we shall visit various feeders and focus a little more on birding looking for species such as Pine Grosbeak, Common and maybe Arctic Redpoll, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Grey Jay, Pileated Woodpecker, Ruffed Grouse and Spruce Grouse.
Overnight homely self-contained apartments in Grand Marais 8 nights

DAY 10
A last morning birding around the Grand Marais area at various feeders should reveal Pine Siskin and Common Redpoll flocks as well as Dark-eyed Junco and any rarities. Of course, if we need to, we can return to the Gunflint Trail and then slowly make our way back to Duluth, stopping en route to check for seaduck, before returning to Duluth airport where the tour concludes.


Video below shows a Lynx captured on camera at one of our viewing areas in March 2018.


IMPORTANT HOLIDAY DETAILS
Local Guides: David Johnson when at Grand Marais and Sax Zim Bog bird guide
Included in cost: Accomm. in twin en-suite rooms, breakfast, ground transport and services of leaders
NOT Included in cost: International airfare, travel insurance, lunch and dinner, drinks other than water, any airport/visa fees and items of a personal nature
Accommodation: Good quality bed and breakfasts
Single Supplement: £299
Max. Group Size: 7
Transport: Large SUVs x2 vehicles
Difficulty: Generally easy short walks on snow!
Climate: Very cold with snow! Average temperatures at this time of year are between -8 and -18 degrees centigrade
Meeting Point: Duluth airport, Minnesota
Tour End: Duluth airport, Minnesota on day 10
Suggested Airlines: Delta airlines via Chicago
Note: This is a flexible itinerary which may need to be adjusted in relation to arrival and departure times, weather conditions and other related factors.