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Monthly Archives: April 2014

My wife received a Christmas Gift Card which she used to purchase an Easter Lilly. We had a lot of rain last week so there wasn’t much that I could do outside so I decided to setup my “studio” out in the sun porch and photograph some flowers. The Easter Lilly was the first subject.

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The Trumpeter Swans seemed to have paired up already and are staking out their nesting sites. We saw over two dozen swans which was a large number for this early in the season.

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We were at Hoffman Hills Recreation Area yesterday and spent about an hour watching several pair of Tree Swallows battle a pair of Bluebirds for a single bird house. Apparently there were multiple offers on the house and the contenders kept raising the offer.Eastern-Bluebirds-14-4-_1425

The Bluebirds were the only ones that actually went into the house. The Tree Swallows sat on a branch about 20 feet away and would periodically make a run at the house. As soon as the swallows neared the house the Bluebirds would come back to the house and chase them away. The Swallows would the harass the Bluebirds. At the same time another pair of Tree Swallows were dive bombing the pair that was trying to get to the birdhouse.

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More photos from Hoffman Hills can be found on my website.

I noticed a bird hiding under a Willow tree in one of the ponds at Hoffman Hills. It was difficult to get a shot even after moving rather close to the bird. I finally had my wife move to another area and the bird finally swam out to open water. This was the first time I had seen a Coot at Hoffman Hills.American-Coot-14-4-_1407

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The Pussy Willows at Hoffman Hills have been blooming for a couple of weeks now. On our last visit we found they were in all stages of bloom.Pussy-Willows-14-4-_1365

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The United States Coast Guard Cutter Morro Bay was in Duluth, Minnesota, along with the Katmai Bay, on an ice breaking mission. It had just returned to serviced after being disabled in ice breaking operations. Most of the bolts holding the rudder had been broken off and it was towed from Thunder Bay to Duluth for repairs. After being repaired is spent several days breaking ice in the Duluth area before heading back to Whitefish Point to resume ice breaking operations.USCGC-Morro-Bay-14-4_0597

On the return home from watching the Morro Bay arrive in port we were able to get a close-up view of a Peregrine Falcon. I flew right at us as we walked over the I-35 overpass. It would have made a great photo, unfortunately by camera was packed away. We watched as it joined its mate and flew around the Canal Park Steam Plant before heading for the Lift Bridge. We had passed the nesting area on the Greysalon earlier in the day and wondered if they were back.USCGC-Morro-Bay-14-4_0609a

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

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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.