Tag Archives: French River

Birds of the High Arctic .. in Minnesota

Folks like to see “northern” birds, and for that opportunity they could charter a bush pilot and fly into a remote lake near the Arctic Ocean, or they could visit Duluth in the late fall and winter. In a little over a month the visitor center at Sax-Zim Bog will open for the winter. I look forward to another winter of helping out at the center as a volunteer naturalist.

In the meantime one may enjoy the late fall migration along the north shore of Lake Superior. In the past few days I have enjoyed watching:

  • Hundreds & hundreds of Slate Colored Juncos
  • Large numbers of
    • Horned Larks
    • Lapland Longspurs
    • Snow Buntings
    • American Tree Sparrows
  • One Ross’s Goose (Park Point Recreation Fields)
  • Many, many Merlins chasing songbirds for breakfast
  • One Short Eared Owl (dune grasslands while hiking out to the Superior Entry)
  • At my own feeder:
    • Woodpeckers … Downy, Hairy, Red-Bellied, and Pilleated
    • Finches … Purple and Gold
    • Chickadees and Nuthatches (red and white breasted)
    • Mourning Doves
    • Juncos
    • White-Crowned Sparrows
    • Fox Sparrows
    • Cardinals
    • A Gray Fox (15 minutes under the feeders eating 50 minutes before sunrise)

Here are a few images from the past two days … a video of the snow buntings is included.

Ross’s Goose

Merlin (imitating a turkey … don’t think the songbirds were fooled!)

Lapland Longspur (just a few minutes after sunrise)

Snow Buntings

Slate-Colored Juncos

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.

Day 184: Beauty and Color on a Drab Day

Today started in line with the old sailor’s rhyme: Red in the Morning, Sailor take Warning! Shortly after sunrise dark dreary clouds moved into the Northland. While the open skies out over Lake Superior made for a dramatic sunrise, within 30 minutes after sunrise the color of the world seemed to lock down. Over the course of the morning, the skies darkened further. Normally this presents a low light challenge for a bird photographer. Our feathered friends tend to move around quickly, which requires a short shutter speed. However, later in the afternoon I headed out with my camera. During mid Summer with food plentiful, birds are well normally well fed. The end result is birds often “slow down”. Switching to aperture priority will work well if one is able to find lethargic birds! Given the ugly sky, if the photographer can find nice green leaf backgrounds the end result photographs can be quite nice … just don’t include the sky in your photo framing!

Merganser Morning (common merganser hen and chicks at sunrise)


Belted Kingfisher


White-Breasted Nuthatch