Sunday, September 30, 2007

Leica at discount?

Leica has introduced new models in their binocular line, albeit with few changes. I suspect that is the reason for Eagle Optics' substantial discounts on current models. Check them out here. Leica's smaller scopes are also discounted. For a review of the changes see The Leica Birding Blog.

Friday, September 28, 2007

fall color?

This afternoon I decided to look for leaves instead of birds -- concentrating around Taylors Falls.

Although the leaves are turning, my estimate is that they're only about 20% there.


Immanuel Lutheran Church in Almelund.
I visited with its pastor, Brian Bergin, a classmate of Pastor Charlie Brown, who serves Beaver Lake Lutheran in Maplewood, where I often fill in. Pr. Bergin is also an avid Jaguar collector & restorer, which led to our meeting in the first place when he noticed my Jag outside the local antique shop.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

more than just, what time is it?

We all know that generally the best time for birdwatching is at sunrise and near the end of the day. Here is a watch that will help you plan your birding trips -- the YES watch. I want one! Here's a review.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Canon 40D

There were several pro photographers at Hawk Ridge last week -- frustrated as I was by the rain & fog. It is my understanding that at least one of them was considering purchasing some 40D bodies in lieu of the 3 to 4 times more expensive Canon's Mark pro cameras. Here is another review of the 40D.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Handheld Birds

Five or six months ago I bought the 5th edition of National Geographic's Field Guide to the Birds of North America. I very much like the layout and the clarity of drawings, as compared to photographs. (I still use Kaufman's field guide most of the time since it is more compact and just "works" for me. I use Geographic's guide as a backup source.)
Even before getting the Geographic I was intrigued by their birding software for Palm based PDAs. My Palm 700p Treo is always with me and pretty much runs my life as well as handles all of my phone calls & voice mail. However, the cost prevented me from getting the software -- initially, I think it was about $250 for just the software card.
The price then went down to $199, but I still resisted -- until their latest temporary (?) reduction to $99. I've had the card installed on my Treo for about a month and I use it more than Kaufman.
It contains more information than the printed version, and -- the main selling point for me, other than portability, is the fact that it has recordings of bird songs and calls. If nothing else, it's a great tool for learning them -- a weak spot in my birding skills.
The software also allows you to maintain bird lists for each outing and upload them to eBird. Another neat feature is the ability to identify the strange bird you're looking at from among the 867 North American birds by entering factors such as the month of the year, state, size, colors, etc. Paging through a field guide can be bewildering for the beginner -- this software quickly narrows the search down to a reasonable number.
Take a look at Geographic's Handheld Birds web site for more information. You may also want to explore the tutorial.
Highly recommended, particularly if you already own a Palm!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

yesterday @ Hawk Ridge

Yesterday morning it was still raining, but I had come to see hawks -- so out the door I went.

This, mostly dead, birch tree was by my cabin -- I've never seen so many mushrooms on a tree that was still standing.

The drive up to Hawk Ridge is just beautiful!

The little bit of brightness just above the apparent horizon is the sun reflecting off Superior through the fog.

With all of the fog, there were no hawks at first -- but plenty of White-throated Sparrows.

Someone had set up this owl decoy -- apparently some of the raptors are attracted or angry with it -- it does work . . .

. . . here's one of them.

A bunch of circling raptors/hawks is known as a "kettle."

Friday, September 21, 2007

Hawk Ridge 9/20-21

Why is it that when I go out of town for a birding trip, fog & rain follow me? (Remember Blue Cloud Abbey & Big Stone NWR?)
Yesterday I did not even attempt to drive up to Hawk Ridge (see the raindrops on the window?) but spent the afternoon reading, visiting with my daughter, and enjoying an excellent dinner at the New Scenic Cafe (about 10-12 mi. north of Duluth on Lake Superior).

I did make it up to the ridge this morning about 10 a.m. -- the fog was so thick I could not see downtown Duluth or the lake. But within an hour or so the fog was beginning to lift and, yes, some hawks did fly by.
At any one time there were two to three dozen visitors (people, that is) -- many from out of state, judging by license plates and hellos -- I met several who had traveled here from as far as Colorado.
I'll be posting some pictures over the weekend.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hawk Ridge

I'll be heading up to Hawk Ridge tomorrow morning. Look for a report this weekend.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

an owly post

To see what bird photographers do in their spare time, check this post on Craig's Birds.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

new toys

You haven't seen new posts on this blog for several days because I've been busy with several "necessary" toys; I'll share them with you later this week -- as soon as I get them operational and take some pictures.

Sunday afternoon at Wargo

Alex had never been to the Wargo Nature Center, so that was our destination this afternoon. It's a neat place -- take a look at our posts from March 29.
Other than a few gulls & Great Blue Herons, we had more luck with mushrooms and wasps than with birds. But Alex had a good time anyway.
The highlight of his trip may have been the display of animal skulls in the Center's office building.
After trying to avoid wasps and walking for more than an hour, Alex decided he liked Carlos Avery better -- most of the time there is spent viewing from a vehicle, rather than on foot.

We found a gull in the sky . . .

. . . and another with a fish.

For some reason, we found more mushrooms/fungi than birds.

Perkins' pancakes?

Pretty, but probably not for eating.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Canon 40D

From my own experience I have found the reviews on Luminous Landscape to be credible and very useful -- at least to me and, I believe, anyone with an interest in nature photography and Canon cameras and lenses. That's why, if you are interested in this latest model from Canon, I suggest you take a look at LL's first hands on review of the Canon 40D.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Leica's new binoculars & spotting scopes

The changes in binoculars do not appear to be as major as in the spotting scopes. The larger scope's objective lens is increased from 77mm to 82mm; the new zoom eyepiece has a wider view angle. Read about these on the Leica Birding blog.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sherburne NWR

One afternoon last week I had several spare hours in Elk River -- so, I headed over to the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge with these results.

Great Blue Heron

Sandhill Crane

"Did you teach him to do that?"

Bald Eagle by a now empty nest. I wonder if it is where this juvenile came from?

Monday, September 10, 2007

feeding time for swallows

"What does one have to do to get a meal around here?"

"I said -- I'm hungry!"

"Right here!"

"Come baaaack!!"

"Let's try again."

"Hey! How about me?!"

"That's better!"

Sunday, September 9, 2007

swallows just outside of Big Stone NWR

Tree Swallow

"Quit shoving!!"

"You talkin' to me?!"

"This flying thing can't be so tough!"

(more to follow)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

deer at Big Stone NWR

This doe & fawn were watching me as I left the refuge.

American White Pelicans at Big Stone NWR

I couldn't get close to the pelicans -- I was at least 1/4 mi. away -- but I was pleased to get these shots since they are my best so far of this species. I used the Canon 400mm with the 2x converter. The fog/drizzle did not help.

Friday, September 7, 2007