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Category Archives: Bird Photography

A few weeks ago the first of the summer birds returned. More summer birds have returned. Normally these birds return withing a day or two of one another. This year the grosbeaks returned first. The hummingbirds followed a couple of weeks later and then the orioles a week after that. Right now there are eight orioles at my feeder.

Baltimore Oriole

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

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This past week we drove through Crex Meadows on the way to Duluth, Minnesota. We saw quite a bit of wildlife and the DNR staging for a controlled burn. Unfortunately the burn didn’t happen. More photos from Crex Meadows can be found on my website.

 

Northern Harrier

Yellowlegs

Blue-winged Teal

Ring-necked Duck

Canada Geese

Pied-billed Grebes

Sandhill Cranes

Trumpeter Swan

 

After last weekends blizzard things finally started to warm up so my wife and I drove out to Hoffman Hills looking for birds. When we arrived we found the water in the prairie ponds was the highest we have seen it. It was flowing over the pond banks in several places. The first pond we approached was still mostly frozen. Several ducks flew as we approached the pond. I think they were Blue-winged Teals. We noticed a Hooded Merganser across the pond.

The Pussy Willows are starting to bloom although they were further ahead in the Gilbert Creek area.

As we approached the second pond we noticed a pair of Belted Kingfishers. I was able to get a shot of one through the trees before it flew. They seem to be very shy.

As we returned to the first pond all heck broke loose. Two Canada Gee

se were in the pond and a third flew in causing quite a ruckus. One of the initial pair chased the third goose into another small pond and then chased it away entirely. Then the two geese few to another area.

We started tracking the pair of Belted Kingfishers before they finally both flew away. About that time we heard some Sandhill Cranes fly into the area and another pair fly in from a different direction. They were all calling at once.

After things quieted down we noticed what appeared to be a third Belted Kingfisher sitting on a dead birch tree. It was fishing in a small pond of open water. We watched it fish for about an hour. It dove off his perch about a half dozen times three times hitting the water. Finally it caught something. Since the ice was just off the pond there didn’t seem to be a lot of things to eat.

It was a very productive visit.

In the last week the following spring birds have returned to the Farm.

Song Sparrow

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Chipping Sparrow

Tree Swallow

Eastern Bluebird

 

 

On April 22 I put out my Eastern Bluebird houses for the year and the following day I had bluebirds checking them out.

Eastern Bluebird male

This weekend was the annual Midwest Sandhill Crane Count. Actually it was scheduled for April 14th but we were in the middle of a three day blizzard so the count was postponed one week. This year my wife agreed to go with me as long as I took her to breakfast afterword. We were up before sunrise and headed to my designated area which happened to be Gilbert Creek. The area is surrounded by roads so I typically drive around stopping along the way to listen and watch. We had already gone around once without seeing anything but things picked up just after sunrise. We noticed a pair of cranes in a backwater area. We watched them for a while before I heard several cranes calling some distance away. As we drove past a pond we noticed a second pair of cranes in the pond. I photographed them before continuing on to where I heard the cranes calling. There was a third pair at that location. In all we saw six cranes. This is the most I have counted during the years I’ve been counting.

There were also some Wood Ducks in the pond.

A pair of Pied-billed Grebes were also swimming around.

Lots of Red-winged Blackbirds were singing.

There was also a Muskrat swimming in the pond.

There were a bunch of American Coots in the pond.

I was surprised to find a number of Canada Geese on the nests considering we were a week away form a three day blizzard.

This was one of the best count days I’ve had over the years.

One of the items on my bucket list was to visit the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. It is world renowned for its late fall and winter birds. I knew there would not be a lot of birds around but since we were driving by I wanted to stop and look around. I had hoped that there would be quite a few shore birds around by I was disappointed to find few birds. It is a place I would love to visit again when the birds are around.

There were a few ducks in the flowages.

Cinnamon Teal

Northern Shoveler

As we drove along the road we spotted a number of softshell turtles sunning themselves along the bank.

Spiny Softshell Turtle

When we left for our road trip to the southwest we thought we were done with winter. I even thought of taking the snowblower off of the tractor but didn’t have time. Lucky I didn’t. It snowed at least four times while we were gone and last weekend we had a blizzard that lasted from Friday evening until Monday morning. Nothing to do but photograph the birds.

 More photos from Canadian Hill Farm can be found on my website.

Given the weather I was a little surprised when a Song Sparrow turned up at the suet feeder.

Song Sparrow

The wind was blowing about 40 mph and I had problems photographing the goldfinch because the feeder was swinging back and forth. The sparrow was leaning into the wind.

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow

The Northern Cardinals were around in large numbers. The second photo shows one with a bad case of Mange. She was around most of the weekend.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

The Red-breasted Woodpecker was a frequent visitor.

Red-breasted Woodpecker

For some reason I find the female House Sparrow much more photogenic than the male.

House Sparrow

There were a large number of House Finches at the feeder early in the morning before the storm arrived but only one lone female turned up during the storm.

House Finch

Woodpeckers were around the feeder most of the weekend.

Hairy Woodpecker

Red-breasted Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

The most frequent visitors to the feeders were the Dark-eyed Juncos and Black-capped Chickadees. The day before the storm there were hardly any birds at my feeders but they returned in large numbers once the storm started.

Black-capped Chickadee

Dark-eyed Junco

 

 

This spring we embarked on a road trip to the southwest. On the way we didn’t make many stops.  It was really hard to find some compelling landscape photography locations as we traveled through Iowa, Missouri and Kansas on the first leg of the trip. The hawks must have been migrating because we seemed to see one at about every mile marker. Unfortunately one can’t stop while driving of the interstate system. On the second leg of the trip we did stop at Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area in Kansas. It was just a few mile off of the highway and I like to photograph birds. There were a lot of Coots in the Area.

There were several large flocks of American White Pelicans in the area but most of them were too far away to photograph.

There were also quite a few Northern Shovelers on the flowage.

When we left on the trip the Red-winged Blackbirds had not returned yet but we found quite a few of them around.

Blue-winged Teals and Northern Shovelers were hanging out together.

I thought we would find more shorebirds around but we only saw Yellowlegs in a couple of places.

At the end of the second day we ended up in Amarillo Texas. Not much to see in Amarillo but we did stop at the Big Texan Steak House. It looked like a Wall wannabee. We ordered the special of the day and decided to split the order. My wife likes her steak well done and I like mine a little on the rare side so we ended up selecting medium. When it came the cow was still kicking which was fine with me but my wife sent her half back twice before it ended up well done. By the third trip to the kitchen it was like shoe leather. I liked the visit she didn’t.

When we arrived at out hotel in Amarillo we were surprised to find a large number of Chinese. Turns out they were installing windmills in Texas. Seems our government is so busy pushing coal technology they are leaving the technology of the future to the Chinese.

I happened to be watching my bird feeders when a Northern Flicker appeared at the suet feeder. This the first time I’ve seen a Northern Flicker on the farm. She spent most of her time hiding on the other sided of the feeder.