Monday, April 30, 2007

watch birds

I want creation to penetrate you with so much admiration that everywhere, wherever you may be, the least plant may bring to you the clear remembrance of the Creator ... One blade of grass or one speck of dust is enough to occupy your entire mind in beholding the art with which it has been made.
-- St. Basil the Great

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Plummer House

I know that plumbers make a lot of money, but this is some house!
Oh, . . . it's DR. Plummer . . . it's the Plummer House.
Anyway, this is where I was for a 50th wedding anniversary celebration in Rochester, MN.
The house is styled after a British manor and took 6 years to build around 1920 by the well-known Minnesota architect, Ellerbe.

After walking the beautiful wooded grounds I was surprised to find so few birds -- no warblers, just a few sparrows, crows, and an unidentified woodpecker. Perhaps it's still early, even in Rochester.
The mou-listservice has several reports of orioles in the southern parts of the Twin Cities. No mou reports of hummingbirds yet, but has received a couple of reports. Stay tuned!

Minnesota Birding

I am honored and very pleased to have these two pictures published in the May/June issue of Minnesota Birding, a periodical of the Minnesota Ornithologists' Union.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Carlos Avery, Friday, April 27

I spent much of yesterday planting seedlings & bushes. By late afternoon I was bushed. But it was sunny, 65 degrees, with a light breeze. How could I stay home? Carlos Avery is the place to go if you are tired since you can do your birdwatching from the car.

I was greeted by a Common Loon some distance out in Pool 9. He would dive for a few seconds, then come up; every third time or so he would lift himself out of the water with this wing display and then start all over again.

Ring-necked Ducks

My favorite picture of the day.
I saw these Sandhill Cranes in my rear-view mirror; so, of course, I had to stop. They were casually strolling along the road on the north side of Pool 5.

This Mourning Dove was my last picture of the day as I was leaving.
The golden/orange color cast is due to the setting sun.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Osprey nest

Earlier Thursday afternoon, Les & I had briefly stopped at the Osprey platform and concluded that the birds may have left. However, when Jim & I checked it out again later in the day, we noticed some movement just above the platform. Much of the time the female would flatten herself so only the very top of her head was visible.
As we prepared to set up the tripod and camera, the male swooped in and out and was gone. We decided to wait . . . and wait . . . and wait. Jim was getting skeptical about the male's return; I was wondering how to bribe Jim to stay since he was driving.

Occasionally, the female would pop up her head and would be quite visible.

We were getting bored; but, at least we had other birds to watch. I took this shot of a chickadee destroying a cattail while Jim kept an eye out for the return of the male Osprey.

After waiting for about an hour, the male finally arrived with a snack.

That is a Crappie, isn't it?
After a break that was no longer than a minute, the male took off again.
Jim agreed that it had been worth the wait.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

looking for Sandhill Cranes at Carlos Avery

Les picked me up at 6:30 a.m. sharp. I had barely managed to wake up with a half-cup of French roast coffee.
The sun was peeking between the clouds and the temperature was in the 40s as we arrived at Carlos Avery a little before 7.
We picked up maps at the entrance to Carlos Avery Headquarters at the north end of Zodiac Street off West Broadway/Co. Rd. 18.

Our main goal was to find Sandhill Cranes and get close enough for some good pictures. We headed east & then north to Pools 10 & 9. Very soon we were greeted by this assembly of Wood Ducks.

We found this pair of Sandhill Cranes in the west end of Pool 22. They were very cooperative subjects, probably because there was a ditch filled with water separating us. I cannot get over how regal and magnificent these birds are. I expect to make many more visits to see them.

It was still early morn- ing; that's why the birds appear colored in such golden tones.
We were fortunate to find several more pairs and individuals.
Les & I speculated that these must be breeding pairs and that those heading further north have left.
They do not appear to be particularly wary of people provided you do not approach them in a direct line. However, if you wait too long to set up your tripod and camera, you will find that they will slowly
walk away from you.
By the way, the tripod leg covers I made worked very well. My hands stayed warm and the tripod, when carried, was easier on my shoulders.

One of our last sightings of Sandhill Cranes was this magnificent specimen east of Pool 26. Contrary to what most "experts" recommend, we had to shoot into the sun, but I think the back-lighting makes this bird only more striking.

Of course, we saw many other birds, such as this beautiful Ring-necked Duck.

You may recall that in a previous post (near the end of the post) I documented a Bluebird defending this same box from a pair of Tree Swallows. It looks like in the end the Tree Swallows won.

Among the other arrivals we found this White-throated Sparrow and a Yellow-rumped Warbler.

There were Blue-winged Teal in nearly every pond.

This Bluebird bid us good bye as we left Carlos Avery. It was well after noon -- the temperature must have been close to 60.
A great morning!
Next we headed to check out the Osprey platform I had previously written about.
However, after watching the nest for several minutes there appeared to be no activity.
The mutual decision was to have lunch; we ended up at a nearby bar for good & greasy hamburgers.
More about the Osprey platform in my next post.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Carlos Avery

Les & I had a good time explo- ring Carlos Avery this morn- ing. Our main goal was to get some good shots of Sandhill Cranes; we were quite successful. I'll be posting the pictures tomorrow along with those of other birds we encountered.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Brown Creeper

Not a single one all winter and now, there he was, right outside my sunroom window. Yes, the pictures are posted right side up.

Tomorrow, my friend, Les, and I are going to Carlos Avery to look for Sandhill Cranes. In the afternoon, Jim, whom I've introduced before, and I are going to see if we can get some pictures of the Osprey nest at Co. Rd. J and I-35E.

Monday, April 23, 2007

yard birds in Zimmerman, MN

These are some of the birds we photographed yesterday at my relatives' place in Zimmerman. We would have gotten many more had it not started to rain. I have not listed the birds' names since I'm sure you are familiar with all of them.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Hummingbirds are here -- at least a few of them.

Zimmerman, MN

I spent the afternoon with my sister-in-law, Rowene, her husband, John, and son, Joe, at Zimmerman, Minnesota. Their home is on a small pond and, therefore, very attractive to birds and other wildlife. There wasn't much sun later today and eventually it started to rain -- but, we had a good time anyway taking pictures of the usual suspects: geese, Mallards, Bluebirds, Cardinals, etc. I'll be posting some of the pictures tomorrow.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

more on sensor cleaning

The following is from Pixinfo:

Sensor cleaning is becoming a standard feature on modern digital SLR cameras. While the manufacturers may use different techniques to get rid of the dust from the image sensor, they all promise clean, dust free images. Do they all work equally well? Can we throw our air blower away? We have tested the four different types of sensor cleaning technologies to see which one will most likely to fulfill the expectations.

Friday, April 20, 2007

on-line birdwatching via a web cam

Don't feel like getting out of the house to watch birds? Just turn on your computer and aim a web camera. Rack up points by capturing shots of rare birds and identifying them! Check it out here.

Sandhill Cranes at Carlos Avery

This is a followup on my Carlos Avery posts of yesterday and Wednesday. There is a narrow strip of land between Pools 4 & 10; it is there I encountered this first group of Sandhill Cranes.

"When you get tired of just standing, you let out a yell!"

Preening is good!