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This morning I saw my first Rose-breasted Grosbeak of the season at my feeders. The males tend to return first but the females will not be far behind.

Rose Breasted Grosbeak

Rose Breasted Grosbeak

The Red-winged Blackbirds have been back for a few weeks. During the annual Sandhill Crane Count I counted over sixty of them in my count area.

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A walk through Hoffman Hills Recreation Area gave me an opportunity to photograph some spring, blooms, buds and leaves. For most of the shots taken in the wetlands area I used my 500mm lens. This allowed me to get some close-ups while avoiding walking in the wetlands.

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After photographing in the wetlands we hike up to the Tower at Hoffman Hills. I took a few shots of some backlit spring leaves, with my 300mm lens, on the way to the tower.

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More spring photographs from Hoffman Hills can be found on my website.

Walking through the wetlands I spotted this dry grass so I tried to capture the patterns.

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There was a little wildlife out. This Goose has been nesting for a couple of weeks.The mate was in another small pond well away from the nest.

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The Painted Turtles were out sunning themselves and the frogs were croaking.

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More spring photographs from Hoffman Hills can be found on my website.

I have very few American Goldfinches around this spring. The few that are around are in the process of moulting and should have their summer colors within a few weeks.

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This is one of my favorite locations to photograph the spring colors. It was a bit early to get any green but the maples were starting to flower creating some beautiful reds. I find photographing the spring colors almost as much fun as photographing the leaves turning in the fall. These were taken from the top of the tower at Hoffman Hills Recreation Area.

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More spring photographs from Hoffman Hills can be found on my website.

I had been wanting to make a trip to Crex Meadows but was down with a bug so we hadn’t been able to make the trip. Also the weather had not been cooperating. We finally found a beautiful warm day so we decided to drive up the Crex for the day. I wasn’t expecting to see much but we were pleasantly surprised.

We counted over twenty Trumpeter Swans as we drove around the dike roads. I was able to get a few action shots because the swans were moving around.

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We also saw quite a few Canada Geese. This pair was right along the road and didn’t want to be disturbed.

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We  saw a large number of Sandhill Cranes in fairly large groups. They were attracting a crowd in the area just west of Phantom Lake.

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We also ran into a Ruffled Grouse walking across the road. I was able to exit the car and get some shots before it moved off into the woods.

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In the same area as the Ruffled Grouse I managed to get some nice reflections shots in a birch grove.

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I took this shot of the marsh grass in an area that I have a history. I love the beautiful grass in this area. Several years ago I stopped to take a photo and was so excited that when I walked off of the road into the grass I didn’t realize that the marsh was filled with water. Fortunately when I hit the water I was able to keep my camera dry although it took quite a while for me to dry out.

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I have a large number of Purple Finches at my feeder. I occasionally have a few around but the numbers are much higher than normal. On the other hand I usually have a large number of American Finches around but only have a few of them.

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The female was perched first but when the male came he didn’t like the company.

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It was a beautiful but unseasonably warm day when we decided to drive over to Willow River State Park. Our first stop was Willow Falls. There was a lot of water coming over the falls, a bit surprising considering the dry winter and spring. Unfortunately most of the falls was covered in bright sunlight so I decided to concentrate on some intimate photos of the portions of the falls that was in the shade.

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While was photographing a small portion of the falls I noticed something sticking up out of the water. At first it looked like a leaf but the more I looked the more it looked like a fish tail. I kept watching it and sure enough it was a fish attempting to navigate up the falls. As I watched I noticed even more fish attempting to make it up the falls. It was strange because there a number of other folks viewing the falls and none of them had noticed the fish.

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We then continued on, what turned out to be, an eight mile hike. For the most part there was not a lot of color and we didn’t see any spring flowers.

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More photographs from Willow Falls State Park can be found on my website.

A couple of days ago this Migrating White-throated Sparrow turned up at my feeder. I usually get a few at my feeders during the migration season.

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