Sunset Union Bay
Yesterday was one of the strangest days I’ve ever had. The day took a strange turn starting the evening before. When I checked into the motel I asked for a 4am wakeup call so I could get up and photograph the 5am sunrise at Lake of the Clouds in Porcupine Wilderness State Park. The clerk didn’t think I could get a 4am wakeup call because the bar closed at 2am (apparently it was not an automated system). I was fine with that. Later, as I was photographing the sunset at Union Bay I remembered that although the Michigan border towns observed CDT, White Pine was on EDT. In other words I should be getting up at 5am EDT rather than 4am. Since I didn’t think I was going to get a wakeup call I forgot about it.
Sunrise Lake of the Clouds
Sure enough the next morning I received a wakeup call at 3:45 am (2:45am CDT. This should have alerted me that this was going to be a crazy day. When I arrived at Lake of the Clouds and setup the camera I noticed there were lots of birds around. I moved away from the camera to check out another shooting location and when I turned around there was a bird sitting on the camera. This was definitely a first. Unfortunately I didn’t get a shot of this. To top it off the sunrise was not all that spectacular.
Hooded Merganser Family
A little later in the morning I was walking along the shore of Lake Superior at Union Bay. As I approached some rocks along the shore I noticed a Hooded Merganser moving out into the lake. All of a sudden there was a flurry of movement among the rocks and I saw a bunch of babies dashing to follow mom. They raced as fast as they could and ran right up onto mom’s back. I think there were seven in all and at one point five of them were riding on mom’s back. She seem to follow along as I walked down the shoreline. The babies would dismount and mount as mom paddled down the lake. Another first for me. I was a little far away but I did manage a shot of the action.
I then started driving out of the park on South Boundary Road. Something caught my eye along the edge of the road. It was a baby bird and it started to dash across the road in front the car. There wasn’t much I could do and I drove over the bird. I looked in the rear view mirror and noticed the bird lying on the road. I thought for sure it was dead. All of a sudden it jumped up and quickly finished its dash across the road. I think the wind from the car must have blown it over. Another first.
A short time later I saw what I thought were some black garbage bags along the road and wondered what was up with that. As I drew closer I discovered it wasn’t garbage bags but a medium sized black bear. He looked at the car and fortunately headed for the woods.
Not long afterwards something hit the driver’s side windshield. At first I couldn’t figure out what it was but it turned out to be a frog. He got himself oriented as I drove along the road and stayed with me until I found a place to pull over and remove him from the windshield. The only thing I can think of was that it fell out of a tree along the road. Another first. This is a shot of the frog through the windshield.
Next I noticed a doe and two fauns along the road and was so busy looking at them that I started to drive off of the road. Apparently I steer the car in the direction I’m looking. Fortunately I looked up just as I was about to hit a guardrail. After that I needed a break so I stopped at the Little Carp River to take a few waterfall photos.
I thought things would end once I made it off of South Boundary road but they didn’t. Driving south of Mellon, Wisconsin on county GG a small black bear, probably born last year, made a full speed dash across the road in front of the car. I slammed on the breaks but still hit him. I think I must of just hit his hind quarters. He kept going full speed into the woods. There wasn’t any place to stop so I kept going until I found a place to pull over. I checked the car for damage and couldn’t find any. After some reflection I decided that discretion was the better part of valor and decided I wasn’t about to go back and walk into the woods to check on the condition of a wild black bear. Another first.
I finally managed to make it home without any more incidents.
Those who follow this blog know that I’m primarily a nature photographer. Sometimes I stray into other areas. In the summer my wife organizes the West Wisconsin Dynamo Soccer Team and has for six years. This means that a lot of my time in the summer is spent photographing soccer matches.
This year has been particularly hectic. The Dynamo play in the MYSA which starts it season starts in mid May and runs through mid July. The Dynamo also plays in several tournaments during the season. The WIAA apparently has a stupid rule that high school soccer players can’t play until after school is out. Since the Menomonie school system doesn’t get out until mid June the Dynamo can’t start playing games until mid June. As a result all of the May and early June games had to be rescheduled this year .
During a six week period this year the Dynamo pay over eighteen games which comes out to three games a week. Photographing games and processing photos takes a considerable bit out of my nature photography activities. I’m usually not free until after the first of August.
As an avid outdoor photographer I spend a lot of time out in the woods, swamps and prairies. This also means that I’m frequently out in wet prairies, walking through swampy areas, wading streams or wading in lakes. For the past several years I have been using Northern Knee Boots purchased from Fleet farm. While these are inexpensive they don’t seem to last very long and they are hot to walk in. They typically don’t last more than a year before they spring a leak. Usually I don’t find out about the problem until I’m standing in the middle of a stream and all of a sudden I get wet feet. Fortunately, the last time I was out walking in the yard early in the morning and found I had a wet foot.
I had been looking for a little better quality of boot and this pushed me over the edge. I made a trip to Gander Mountain to check out the boots they had available and on sale. I have a difficult foot to fit so it was important that I be able to try them on. I found that the Wetland 16″ Muck Boot fit perfectly and was just what I was looking for. I’ve been using them now for about 3 months and so far they are great. They are much more comfortable to walk in, give me another 1 inch in height and they are not nearly as hot as the Northern Knee Boot. They only thing I don’t know is how long they will stand up.
The big disadvantage is that they five times more costly. However, after walking three miles into Lost Creek Falls a few weeks ago they are definitely worth it.
Last week I took a photos of an adult Tree Swallow feeding a young bird in one of my birdhouses and the young bird looking out of the house. I watched for quite a while as the adults came to the swallow house to feed the young swallow. It appeared that this was the last one in the nest.
Fledgling Tree Swallow
Fledgling Tree Swallow
A few days later I happened to be photographing at my bird feeding station when a fledgling Tree Swallow landed. I was really fun watching this young swallow take in everything happening around the bird feeders. The American goldfinches were hopping all around the swallow. When the Rufus Hummingbirds came flying by its eyes really started to bug out.
Finally a nice day after several weeks of cloudy and rainy weather. Friday, June 24th, I was out early for a six mile walk on the Red Cedar State Trail. It was windy out so I just took my camera and the 28-300mm lens along. This was my first walk on the trail in several weeks so I was interested in finding out what had changed.
Yellow Flag Iris
I think the pent up demand was evident as there were a lot of bikers out this morning since this was the first time we had seen the sun all week.
There were a variety of birds along the trail. Several types of sparrows, and warblers, Grosbeaks and Grey Catbirds were also abundant. Lots of bird calls but it was sometimes difficult to find them with all of the foliage on the trees. I did walk past the eagles nest at the 1.5 mile mark. Two fledglings were out on limbs above the nest. I suspect they will be leaving the nest in the next week or so.
As the day warmed up more and more butterflies and dragonflies could be found along the trail. I counted five different types of butterflies and a couple dragonflies.
There were a few late spring flowers still in bloom and many of the early summer flowers were blooming all along the trail. It’s one of the reasons I like to walk the trail rather than bike so I can stop and smell the roses.
Shovel Point Tettegouche State Park
What a difference a couple of months makes in the landscape. At the end of march we were a Tettegouche State Park just after a major storm. Shovel Point was covered in ice. The first part of June I stopped at Tettegouche to hike out to Shovel Point to check out how things looked after the ice melted.This shot is of what used to be called the arch and is now called the tower. In March it was completely covered in ice.
Shovel Point Steps
Schovel Point Steps
The steps at the end of the Shovel Point trail were also covered in ice. The shot on the right shows how it looks on a nice spring day.
The shoreline was covered in ice several hundred feet back from the water. It was three to six inches thick on the trees. This is a before and after shot from Shovel Point. My wife and I spent several hours hiking through the ice forest shown on the left.
More photos on my website.
I made my spring trip to Morgan Falls Last week. I arrived in Ashland late in the day and since it was late in the day I knew the falls would be in the shade and wouldn’t have to deal with high dynamic range so I decided to make the trip hoping to get back to Ashland for some nice sunset shots.
Morgan Falls Trail
When I arrived there was one other car in the parking lot but I met that group on the trail to the falls as they were leaving. The hike in is easy and only takes about 20 minutes. It is not uncommon to have to share the falls with others which can make it difficult for photography. Normally Morgan falls is a great place to find Mosquitoes but this trip they didn’t seem to bother me. That said, I would always take some spray along because they can be really bad.
There was a fair amount of water coming down the falls so I was able to get some nice shots. I always wear my Muck Boots when hiking into Morgan Falls because some of the best shots can be found on the other side of the stream. Isn’t that always the case? When I arrived back at the car it was completely overcast so no chance for some nice sunset shots at Chequamegon Bay.
I’ve been out to Hoffman Hills several times the past week photographing flowers. There are a wide variety of late spring flowers blooming in the prairie and wetlands areas west of the access road with more flowers on the way. There are a couple that I haven’t been able to identify so if you know what they are let me know.
Blue Flag Iris
Covered Horton Bridge
These two photos were published in this years version of the Wisconsin’s Great Lakes Calendar. The first photo is Covered Horton Bridge at Amnicon Falls State Park. The second photos is a of a father and son fishing at Wisconsin Point Lighthouse.
Wisconsin Point Lighthouse
More information and a pdf file of this year’s calendar can be found by clicking here.
It seems that I’m always driving past Amnicon Falls State Park. Last week I stopped to stretch my legs on my way up to the Minnesota North Shore but didn’t take any photos since I had already been to Amnicon Falls twice this spring. On the way back from the North Shore there were heavy clouds which are always a good sign for waterfall photography. I realized that I have rarely been at Amnicon Falls when it was cloudy out and have constantly been fighting the harsh light of midday sun so I decided to stop and look around.
Now and Then Falls
There were a few more people at the fall than I would have liked but one group of kids who had been playing in the water were just on their way out. This left a couple of young lovers who always seemed to be where I wanted to take a photo so I was constantly moving to try and avoid them. I had tried to take a photo of the upper falls but they were in the way. I came back later only encounter another group arriving just as I was getting ready to photograph. I came back a third time only to encounter the young lovers again. Finally on my third try I was able to get a photo of the middle falls.
In spite of the distractions the overcast day made for some great photography. I spent several hours walking around the island and photographing the various waterfalls in the park.
More photos of Amnicon Falls State Park can be found on my website.