Video by Sparky Stensaas
“Welcome to the Sax-Zim Bog,” said our guide, Steve Weston. “Tonight we’ll be going through the towns of Sax and Zim, population nothing.” Moments later we drove by a snow-dusted, abandoned trailer, the front door hanging off one hinge. This was downtown Sax. Zim, a few miles to the north, wasn’t much more. Both are remnants of failed attempts to farm the bog that date back to the early 20th century. Now they are ghost towns surrounded by 200 square miles of wetlands.
Last night we were enjoying dinner outside when we looked up to see a sky filled — hard to do this justice — with a bird that seemed to be some kind of raptor. My guess is that it is a falcony-like bird (kestrel or something?). It seemed to be up there feasting on the bugs that were so prevalent last night, but maybe it was the dragonflies? It was a smaller raptor and had a kind of stripe across the wings.
I wish I could describe to you how many there were. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. They moved in a mass of them more like a school of fish than birds and seemed to be focused on eating and eating. Simply hundreds of them. I was surprised that a raptor would eat insects but that seemed to be what they were doing.
While out doing bird surveys for the Minnesota DNR, Sparky Stensaas came across a baby brown thrasher trying to swallow a foot-long garter snake.