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 cat. The key to success is long hours in the field, often spent waiting in cold temperatures and driving quiet roads. However, the result should be worth the effort! Of course, we shall not only be looking for Lynx as there are many other special mammals in this area too including American Marten, Wolf and if we are very lucky, Fisher too!
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 much harder to find dependent on the year. 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, 2018 and 2019 tours have been a huge success with incredible views of Canada Lynx as the photo above (taken during our 2018 tour) shows!
After arriving into Duluth airport, we shall collect our vehicle and then dependent on flight times, either look for Snowy Owls and/or travel the very short distance to our hotel for the night. Overnight Duluth
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
Hawk 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. 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 Gyr Falcon, 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.
After breakfast we will check-out of our hotel and spend 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 roads around the nearby forests for our first chance of Lynx! Overnight Grand Marais
DAYS 4 – 9
During the next seven days we shall focus on trying to see Canada Lynx around the huge forest areas in this region, 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 various sites in very cold temperatures. We willl monitor Lynx activity at these sites using trail cameras in order to give us the best chance of connecting with this elusive cat. As with most mammal watching, dawn and dusk will be the times when we shall focus most effort. 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.
During 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 near Grand Marais 7 nights
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 that may be present. Of course, if we need to, we can try one last time for Lynx before slowly heading south along the shore of Lae Superior, stopping en route to check for seaduck, before returning to Duluth airport where the tour concludes.
Video below shows a Lynx captured on camera in March 2018.