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)
Had a super time hiking this morning on the dikes of the MacQuarrie Wetlands near Wrenshall, Minnesota. My good friends, Mike Furtman, had keyed me in to this amazing habitat just outside of Duluth. Quite frankly, I was amazed to find these wetlands in the Namadji River watershed, only a couple miles off one of my bike routes (Military Road). If you know the Nemadji area, you understand rolling hills.
Although the Trumpeter Swans in the first photo may look peaceful and graceful, the situation is 100% different. I watched the lead swan get chased away by “many couples” from various wetland ponds shortly after sunrise this morning. The cob (male swan) was trying to “swipe someone else’s woman”, and in each case the bonds formed by the couples were strong and they jointly chased away the interloper ... trumpeting the entire time. It was noisy beautiful!
The ponds had only gone ice free a few days before, and the “early migrants” were not about to give up their prime nesting spots to late arrivals … let alone break up a perfectly good relationship.
Chasing the Interloper … Trumpeter Swans
A Porcupine Surveying the Scene this Morning
Young Love at my own feeders … Pileated Power
Duck, Duck, Duck, Goose! (the higher in the air of the two immature bald eagles had just swept in a “goosed” the other eagle … and perhaps even stole some breakfast).