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This past week three more spring birds returned to the farm. The Eastern Bluebirds returned to the area several weeks ago but only turned up on the farm the last couple of days.

Eastern Bluebird male

Eastern Bluebird male

 

Right behind the Bluebirds were the Tree Swallows. Both are vying for the use of the same houses. I have a dozen bird houses around the farm and have yet to figure out why the Bluebirds and Tree Swallows always seem to want the same houses.

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow

 

The Eastern Phoebes also returned this week. They have been busy working on their nest. Since the nest from last year is available they seem to be only doing some minor repairs.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

A Last Week we drove through Crex Meadows to check on the returning birds. We saw about a dozen pairs of Trumpeter Swans at various locations. Because many of the areas were still frozen the swans were sticking close to shore where there was open water. This made it easy to get some photographs.

Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swan

 

We also saw a couple of dozen Sandhill Cranes. The was the largest number of cranes we had seen this early in the spring. There was still a lot of ice on some of the larger flowages.

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

 

There were also quite a few Canada Geese throughout the flowage.

Canada Goose

Canada Goose

 

I’m not sure how the birds fared after 18 inches of snow last week.

Winds forced the Lake Superior ice to pile up along the shore of Brighton Beach.Brighton-Beach-Ice-14-4_0592

Brighton-Beach-Ice-14-4_0583

 

 

Last week we had several days of warm weather so we decided to head up to Gooseberry Falls State Park to check on the spring melt. There was quite a bit of water coming over the falls but the ice was still in the river. I’ve always wanted to be at the falls for ice out but missed again this year.

More photos of Gooseberry Falls can be found on my website.

Upper Falls

Upper Falls

Middle Falls

Middle Falls

Lower Falls

Lower Falls

 

Twenty four hours later the ice went out. This video shows the dramatic change in the falls when the ice goes out.

Now and Then Falls had water flowing this past week during the spring melt at Amnicon Falls State Park. It was especially interesting with the combination of ice and water.Amnicon-Falls-State-Park-Now-and-Then-Falls-14-4_0722

Amnicon-Falls-State-Park-Now-and-Then-Falls-14-4_0733

Amnicon-Falls-State-Park-Now-and-Then-Falls-14-4_0742

 

 

It has been a slow season for the ship watchers on the great lakes and the Duluth/Superior area has also been slow. This past week the American Spirit Arrived in Duluth from Two Harbors. It spent the winter in Duluth and saw its first action when the Presque Isle was damaged in the first convey out into the lake. The Presque Isle returned to Duluth and offloaded some of its taconite to the American Spirit to raise the ship up so it could be repaired.American Spirit  14-4_0643

The American Spirit then sailed to Two Harbors to top off its load of taconite. It is shown here returning to Duluth. Apparently the plans are to wait in Duluth until ice conditions on the great lakes improve or the upbound convoy of ships arrives to assist it on the downbound voyage to the Soo Locks. C-_Users_Phil_Pictures_2014-Pictures_14-4_0647

So far this season only two ships have made it from Duluth to the Soo Locks. A convoy of three ice breakers and three cargo ships left Duluth. One ice breaker and the Presque Isle were damaged and returned to Duluth for repairs. One of the icebreakers and two cargo ships arrived at the Soo Locks eleven days after leaving Duluth.Ship-Watching-14-4_0637

More Photos from Canal Park can be found on my website.

It was a warm day last Thursday so we drove over to Amnicon Falls State Park to see how the spring melt was coming. There was still some ice along the shores and across the river in a few places but the river was flowing nicely. Amnicon-Falls-State-Park-14-4_0786

Amnicon-Falls-State-Park-14-4_0791

Amnicon-Falls-State-Park-14-4_0711

 

Willow River State Park is a popular rock climbing areas. I almost always find someone climbing on the sandstone cliffs above the falls. This past visit was no exception. I happened to have my long lens with me in anticipation of seeing some birds on the lower Willow River. I took a few photos of the climbers.

Rock-Climbing-Willow-River-State-Park-14-4-_0900

Willow-River-State-Park-10-121-_5394

 

 

This year we have only been to Willow Falls State Park a couple of times. I usually visit more frequently but with the cold weather the waterfall has been frozen so it hasn’t been that photogenic. This past weekend we drove over to see what was going on. The falls was almost ice free so I took a few intimate photos.Willow-River-State-Park-14-4-_0381

Willow-River-State-Park-14-4-_0373

Willow-River-State-Park-14-4-_0376

I had a number of infrequent visitors to by bird feeders this past week and luckily I was able to capture them.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Purple Finch

Purple Finch

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

 

 

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