Horned Larks and Auroras

Today is a two post day, followed by silence as Molly and I head over to our lighthouse keeping gig at Crisp Point tomorrow morning … silence because we will be off the grid … electrical, phone and cell … kind of nice! However if read my earlier post from today, last night I watched charged particles in the northern sky.

I have found the best way to deal with lack of sleep due to astrophotography and chasing the Northern Lights is to take a bike ride. Thus, this morning when the temperature finally broke 40F (4.5C) I got on the bike and cycled up the North Shore of Lake Superior. The cool conditions must have made our visitors from the northern tundra feel right at home. During my ride I found these Horned Larks which were migrating south as I bicycled north!

In addition, here is one more image from last night. This photo was from early in the night when I missed the Aurora. Instead I saw the “green glow” and some great stars. Given the moon had not yet risen, the heavens were very dark.

Northern Magic on Lake Superior

What do you call a day when earlier in the afternoon some Lapland Longspurs walk up to within 3 or 4 feet of you, and continue to feed without concerning themselves with your presence even though you are never more than ten feet away … plus a night spent out under the stars watching Lady Aurora dance? The answer is Northern Magic!!!

I consider myself so lucky to live on Lake Superior. A friend suggested we should drive over to the Old Stella Pier and look for Longspurs. Normally I would have considered the experience of watching birds which summer on the tundra up on the Arctic Ocean, but migrate through the Duluth area a great day, but when my Northern Lights alarm started going off around supper time, I knew my day was not over.

I have been wanting to capture a decent Aurora Borealis display at the Davidson Windmill for some time, but never had been successful. It took two trips over to Wisconsin last night to capture the Northern Lights in an image my desired way.

During my first trip over to the windmill at 9 pm I arrived during a nice Northern Lights display, but in the ten minutes it took to determine the proper angles and set up my camera equipment, the Aurora display fizzled out. Bummer! I waited another hour but no dice. Went home.

At 1 am I woke up and checked the numbers. It looked like Lake Aurora might dance yet again last night. I drove back over to the windmill arriving at 1:45 am, and this was the result!

Lapland Longspurs on Old Stella Jones Pier

Northern Lights at the Davidson Windmill (Amnicon River in NW Wisconsin). Camera Settings were ISO = 1600; Aperture = 2.0; Exposure = 20 seconds.

Coming to a Bird Feeder Near You!

But That Is Not Me!!!

Susan Larson Kidd (the author), Sparky Stensaas (book designer) and I (the photographer) are proud to announce the new children’s book, But That Is Not Me!

This book which targets beginning readers, features the adventures of “Harry” the hairy woodpecker who  visits his forest sky friends and learns about the other birds of the northern forest. The book has an accompanying web page found on this blog, Birding With Children. We developed this additional content because helping the next generation learn to love birds and nature is an important part of our message.

If you have not read our children’s book, But That Is Not Me!, we invite you to explore this excerpt (pdf file). Our book sells for $12 directly via this web site, or via Amazon. The price includes shipping within the continental USA, but not sales tax.

Cover Image From the Book

Birds featured (order of appearance in book):

  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Black-Capped Chickadee
  • American Robin
  • Slate-Colored Junco
  • White-Breasted Nuthatch
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
  • Mourning Dove
  • Osprey
  • Blue Jay
  • Bald Eagle
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Red-Winged Blackbird
  • Great Blue Heron

The book is 30 pages long (excerpt – pdf file). 

The dedication on the book reads:
For All My Grandchildren: No matter your age, may you always hear the joy of bird song.

Initial orders will ship on October 25th. I first need to return to civilization from my Crisp Point Lighthouse gig at the eastern end of Lake Superior!!

In Between Gigs!

This afternoon I arrived home in Duluth after two days in the car driving back from Kentucky. Helping to lead the bike tour was fun, but that long a period in the car demanded exercise upon reaching home. Thankfully northern Minnesota did not disappoint and my I was presented with bright sunny skies, and stiff winds off Lake Superior.  After unpacking the car I hopped on my bike and headed up the shore.

My first impression was “juncos have arrived”! Yes, more northern birds have dropped down from Canada. It won’t be long before migration is over with except for late arriving hawks and early winter owls.  It was nice to give my camera a workout. While on bike tour I did not have time to take many photographs. Our garden’s one Woods Pink Aster which is still blossoming was a major attraction for Painted Lady butterflies.

It is good to be home, if only for  a couple of days. Soon it will be time to head off to the other end of Lake Superior for Molly and my lighthouse keeping gig.

Painted Ladies on Woods Pink Aster

Slate Colored Junco Enjoying the Fall Colors