Tag Archives: Hawk Ridge

Indigo Morning: Lupines and Buntings!

The lupine have been blooming for two weeks inland from Lake Superior, but down on the shore the cool waters delay blossoms. Thus, this morning I drive up the shore to a favorite location where I knew the sun would align with the lupine at sunrise. Only for a few days near the Summer equinox does the sun rise directly in line with the shore. I liked the effect!

After my flower power session I moved on to Hawk Ridge. A few weeks ago I have photographed a classic ore boat arriving at Canal Park. I have been watching the shipping schedule and waiting for an early morning arrival. When I took my other ore boat arrival photo, I did not have a tripod. This time, I did it “right” and photographed the Cason J. Callaway as it arrived at Duluth.

Finally, while taking the above photograph, an Indigo Bunting serenaded me. This is said bird!

I’ll end this blog post with a pic taken of my own home. I arrived home at 6:30 am (been out since 4:45 am) as the sun finally dappled into my own yard!

Hawk Ridge … Not Just for Raptors Anymore!

While bicycling in rural northwestern Wisconsin yesterday I noticed quite a few Indigo Buntings. This was a sign for me that some of our latest migrants back to the Northland had finally returned. Thus, last night after supper I drove the two short miles up to Hawk Ridge. While most folks know Hawk Ridge as one of the premier Autumn raptor migration locations in North America, during the late Spring when songbirds are migrating north the extensive wild fruit and berry trees attract lots of birds on calm, clear mornings. Actually the birds may be up at Hawk Ridge on cold, wet, windy and foggy days, but I prefer to stay home! 🙂

Note: Hawk Ridge is a great fall raptor migration viewing spot because hawks while migrating south run into Lake Superior. Raptors do not like to fly across large bodies of water, and thus they fly hundreds of miles down the North Shore of Lake Superior till the birds reach the end of the lake (Duluth). Out hill on calm warm days provide both great thermals for the hawks, and good viewing opportunities for us birders. From Hawk Ridge down to the lake is a drop of about 600 feet.

Hawk Ridge did not disappoint. In the 30 minutes before the sun dipped below the horizon, I was treated to a sunset with Golds, Greens and Indigo!

Indigo Bunting at Sunset

I returned at sunrise, the enjoyed a crystal clear calm morning (37F at 5:30 am). Here are a few of the birds I found this morning … and the John G. Munson arriving the Duluth harbor at sunrise (the view from Hawk Ridge out over Lake Superior towards town).

The John G. Munson Arriving at the Duluth Harbor

Chestnut-Sided Warbler

Great Crested Flycatcher (Singing Out and Coughing Up!)

Cedar Waxwing Eating Blossoms

Merlin Attacks Great Horned Owl!

I don’t know about you, but I would hate to be this Great Horned Owl right about now!
 
This image was taken this morning up on Hawk Ridge in Duluth, Minnesota. The owl is a decoy, but the Merlin is very much real. Had fun watching the Merlin attack the decoy almost 15 times.
 
Consider visiting Duluth and Hawk Ridge this Fall right at sunrise. I have found that when there are fewer people around, like at sunrise, the attacks on the owl decoy are much more frequent both in terms of the numbers of hawks making the attack, and the number of attacks per bird.
 
While you will see more birds later in the day when the thermals start to rise off the hill, I enjoy the drama of these attacks. As more people arrive, the hawks often tend to stay farther away from the viewing platform and crowds.Y3-M08-Hawk-Ridge-Merlin-Attack

Sunrise at the Lester River

After four days away from home, I am happily back in northern Minnesota. Sun comes up at 5:15 am, and shortly after sunrise I visited the mouth of the Lester River in search of the Common Merganser family. The early morning sun makes for fantastic photography conditions, and also if one takes some care … allows one to get much closer to birds.

It took 15 minutes, but I eventually found my young family. If I had walked the shore towards the mergansers my visit would have been very short, but instead while still over 100 yards away from Momma Merganser I sat down on the rocks. Over the course of 15 minutes, directly in her line of sight with the sun, I inched forward “on my behind” towards the birds. Taking this amount of time, and never standing allowed me to get within 15 yards of the mergansers and watch them for almost twenty minutes. These photos are the result of that session, but the key point is … get low right at sunrise (don’t walk) and come at your desired subjects from right out of the sun. If you move slowly enough, it is amazing how close one may get to some types of wildlife.

Common Merganser Family at Sunrise
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Wild Tailed Deer Fawn
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Chestnut-Sided Warbler and Cedar Waxwing … the waxwing actually has Lake Superior in the background while the warbler is set off against the sky … interesting comparison of blue on a crystal clear day!
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