During the earlier stages of the migration here in northern Minnesota, it seems as if spending times in the wetlands yields more birds. Thus, over the past few days I have visited both the Roy Johnson Wetlands near Cloverland, Wisconsin … and the Big Bog north of Upper Red Lake, Minnesota. My final wetland visit was northwest of Floodwood while driving home last evening where I saw my first ever wolverine (on the forest edge near the wetlands).
I think I gave this White Pelican a few extra hours of life. Stumbling across this bird on the shores of Upper Red Lake, I scared up two bald eagles and this pelican … which I first thought was dead. I am rather certain it had just been taken down by the eagles. The pelican’s wings looked really messed up and it was collapsed on the shore when I first found it.
Over near Cloverland, I had fun watching some Greater Yellowlegs and Barn Swallows near a small pond. A few Barn Swallows seemed to actually do some “shore fishing” for bugs. Finally, here is my first photograph (a bit fuzzy) of a Northern Harrier. I love watching them hunt, but they are extremely difficult to both get near and capture an image.
After my failed red-throated loon quest in the Port Washington area of Lake Michigan, I returned to my cold Northland along the shores of Lake Superior. In between birding outings I took a bike ride along the shore … 35F, snow flurries, and a 20 mph wind out of the Northeast. Twas an ugly cold bicycle ride.
Thankfully my birding excursions yesterday to some of my favorite wetlands were much more favorable. Both the Roy T. Johnson Wetlands (near Cloverland, Wisconsin), and the MacQuarrie Wetlands (near Wrenshall, Minnesota) by virtue of their locations relative to Lake Superior are way ahead of birding habitat north of the big lake (read cold with little signs of Spring in evidence).
In addition to both lots of Meadowlarks and Wilson’s Snipes singing out for mates, I saw two big migration events. At MacQuarrie yesterday afternoon when the sun finally came out, I found a flock of 500+ Scaups resting on their northward migration, and a few minutes later 1,000+ tree swallows swarmed the air directly above my head as they fed in the late afternoon sun above one of the wetland ponds.
Yesterday I could not buy a decent bird photograph. Although the Meadowlarks were back, neither them or any other bird species would strike a decent pose for a photo. Thankfully I had a fallback … my first freighter image of this shipping season, The Michipicoten. This ore boat is a classic ship having been built in 1952 … making her four years more a classic than yours truly! I tend to be very picky about which ships I photograph, and the combination of the Duluth Shipping News Schedule and a real time marine app allows me to insure I am at the right place at the right time!
The ship photograph must have changed my luck, because over the next 24 hours birds seemed to want their photograph taken, and then to top it off … the steelhead run started which obviously had to be captured on camera. (native rainbow trout which spawn in Lake Superior rivers).
Failed! A Steelhead trying to jump a Lester River cascade.
Wisconsin Wetland Photographs
Sandhill Cranes et al
A Distant Meadowlark
Stuffed! (A very full Bald Eagle which let me get amazing close and never flushed)
Trumpeter Swans have their name for a good reason … they sound like trumpets!
This morning while enjoying the arrival of some early migrants, Killdeer and Red-Winged Blackbirds, over at the Roy Johnson Mitigation Wetlands, I heard some trumpeting behind me. Two swans had just arrived to stake their claim to a pond which had been ice free for less than 24 hours. I hope you enjoy the short video … with audio … which makes their name quite obvious!
If you’ve never visited the Roy Johnson Mitigation Wetlands and find yourself in the Northland, make the trip. The wetlands are located next to the Cloverland municipal building and garage, 18.5 miles along Wisconsin #13 from the first exit of the US Hwy 2/53 Expressway just out of Superior.
Finally, it was fun to watch a pair of Sandhill Cranes. It was only 2+ weeks ago I visited the Platte River in central Nebraska and saw 460,000+ cranes. Assuming these two were in Kearney, they have flown about 730 miles to reach my wetlands!