Category Archives: Archive

Swamp Ducks and Wildflowers!

Friday morning I took a sunrise bicycle ride in the Suomi Hills region of northern Minnesota. Boy am I glad I convinced myself to get out of bed early (sunrise is 5:15 am). The wildflowers are blooming like crazy, and the birds added a nice touch! If you have the opportunity to drive Mn Hwy #48 in the next week, make certain you slow way down and look deep into the roadside ditches about 8 miles from Mn Hwy #38. You will see thousands on Showy Ladyslippers. These flowers were just starting to bloom on Friday. Every one of these flowers was photographed within a two mile stretch on Hwy #48 (and the ducks).

Showy Ladyslippers

Suomi Hills Lutheran Church (and my bike)

Red Columbine

Wild Roses

Lupine

Tiger Swallowtail

Ring-Necked Duck and Wood Duck

Ring-Necked Duck and Blue-Winged Teal (a favorite perch, perhaps?!)

Thursday evening, a thunderstorm rocked our cabin on Northstar Lake, which cleared the skies for my sunrise bike ride the next morning.

Homecoming Aurora Borealis!

After driving over 4,000 miles during the past two weeks, and visiting some fantastic locations including Santa Fe, the Grand Canyon, and Durango, Colorado deep in the Rocky Mountains, Molly and I arrived home yesterday afternoon. Although I was tired from all the driving, and looking forward to a night in my own bed, when the Northern Lights numbers popped I had to head to a frozen lake and hope Lady Aurora would dance. It was a fine performance. She did not disappoint. For ten minutes shortly after 10 pm the light show was spectacular. The refrozen melt water out on the lake ice made for cool reflections.

I then move over to NW Wisconsin to the Davidson Windmill, and hoped for a repeat performance. However, when the 2 am hour approached I realized it was to be a one dance night and I contented myself with a starscape “green glow” image at the windmill.

Lady Aurora Dancing Over Boulder Lake … 25 miles north of Duluth

A Few Minutes Later … more rays / spikes but less light

Ten Minutes Before Lady Aurora Came out to Dance … intense light

The Davidson Windmill Starscape Green Glow

Below Zero Birding

The last few days have been cold in the Northland, with temperatures plunging to around -25F or worse. Does this mean one stops birding? No! I just make certain I have extra warm clothes and blankets in the car in case I get stuck somewhere. In addition to the cold weather, the past week has seen about one foot of new snow which came in multiple bursts. This extra snow seems to be making it a bit easier to find birds as they are concentrating on known food sources, as opposed to being deep in the forest and even foraging through the snow on the forest floor. Here are some images I took over the past three days …

Superior Rough-Legged Hawk on Connors Point (Duluth Harbor) … snowies also being seen at dusk on Connors Point, the Superior Middle School and the Richard Bong Airport

Riley Road Pine Grosbeaks … if you bird Riley Road, get out of the car. I found a large flock of pine grosbeaks, but they were 10 to 50 yards off the road.

Sax-Zim Bog Pine Grosbeak “Gritting Up”

Talons!

Even though Hawk Ridge is “closed” for the year, some of the best raptor watching occurs in November. As in the past, I find that one finds quite a few Bald Eagles, Red-Tailed Hawks and Rough Legged Hawks migrating along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

I particularly like to bird the Two Harbors Expressway between Duluth and Stoney Point, Old Superior Street, and Scenic 61. The raptors tend to hunt 1 to 2 hours after sunrise, and for the same period before sunset.

This photo of a Bald Eagle was taken this morning on Scenic 61. As a fyi, I wateched this eagle for exactly six minutes with my finger poised on the shutter. It was not concerned about me, just about finding a late breakfast.

For a pic of a Red-Tailed Hawk which I found two days ago on the Expressway a bit before sunset, follow this link.

For you non northern Minnesota types, it is perfectly okay to pull over on the Expressway. Just pull way off the road (the shoulder is big) and bird from the grassy areas. Traffic now that all the leaf peepers have gone back home to the Twin Cities is not that bad!
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A image taken before the eagle took flight.
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