Advance Planning! Do you plan your photographs “in advance”? Hopefully the answer is yes. During a prior drive down to Minneapolis I noticed a field of sunflowers in the distance which were almost ready to bloom. My brain immediately starting taking virtual pictures. Wouldn’t it be cool to photograph the sunflowers shortly after dawn?
Thus, four days ago I got up at 4 am and left early for the Twin Cities. My early departure was to arrive at my desired farm fields in the dawn’s early light. The night before I had researched farm roads on Google Maps which I thought would bring me to the sunflower fields with the correct point of view relative to the sunrise. In addition I downloaded an offline version of central Minnesota from Google Maps on my smartphone. Never trust you will have a cell signal when in remote areas!
This photograph was the end result … a sunflower field a few minutes after sunrise … in a location I had never visited in my life. Even when birding, I pick my locations and hikes to hopefully arrive at a desired area with the proper lighting / photographic conditions.
The shorebird invasion is in full force in Duluth, Minnesota. The wind has switched and is now blowing from the north. The shorebirds are aware of this fact, and I found hundreds and hundreds along mud flats next to the harbor. Surprisingly, my normal spot for shorebirds at the end of Park Point was almost devoid of shorebirds.
The largest numbers of shorebirds were Lesser Yellowlegs, and Semi-Palmated Sandpipers, but I also found plovers. The hawks and merlins knew the shorebirds were migrating through the area, as any bird which fed on the mud flats without keeping one eye towards the sky did so at its peril.
The largest number of birds by far were feeding in the mud flats at the Erie Pier. Also seen at this location was my Great Egret, a Marsh Hawk, a Trumpeter Swan and many more birds. The abandoned pier near Grassy Point and the C. Reiss Coal Company yielded fewer birds, but this is where I found the plovers and the Ruddy Turnstone.
Find mud flats with deeper water near by that recharges the flats and you have found bird candy! This morning I hiked into some of my favorite mud flats adjacent to the Duluth harbor. The mud flats did not disappoint. In addition to taking the photo shown below of a Great Egret (rare for Northeastern Minnesota), the shorebirds migrating through from the Arctic were happily feeding. Just a few yards from the shore thistle and other goodies were keeping the finches happy.
Actually, I would not have even found the shorebirds initially if a Marsh Hawk had not flushed them while hunting. The hawk also found the mud flats provided candy!
Ten yards from the mud flats, thistle was perfect candy for this Goldfinch!