Spring is the time I like to drive over to Gilbert Creek Wildlife Area to view the birds. We had driven past last week and noticed that there were already a number of Sandhill Cranes in the area. I drove down just after sunrise and didn’t see much to photograph. Later in the morning we were in the area so we drove over to see if things had improved. Just as we arrived my wife noticed a couple of Sandhill Cranes calling. There was another pair in the wetlands but we couldn’t see them.
There were quite a few Red-winged Blackbirds around but we didn’t see any females.
Lots of Canada Geese in the pond.
There were also quite a few ducks around including this pair that seemed to be staking out a nesting place. There were also a number of Wood Ducks around but they were a little skittish so no photos.
When things get a little dull I like to take photos of just about anything. This is last years Cattail.
As we were returning home one day my wife noticed a Bald Eagle on a deer carcass along the road. We turned around and went back hoping to get a photo. Unfortunately another car came along and the Eagle took off. I did manage to get a photo of it sitting on a dead tree along the road and a second photo when it flew up into a pine tree.
I haven’t seen my Pileated Woodpecker around much lately but yesterday he turned up in the morning but flew quickly when he saw me. Later in the afternoon he returned and I managed to get some pictures of him.
Our pet Sharp-skinned Hawk has been absent for a while but last week he returned and spent quite some time flying around my bird feeders before flying at an arborvitae and flushing some birds. I don’t know if the caught any but he did flush a female Northern Cardinal who flew into a window in her panic to escape. This is the first time I’ve ever seen a hawk land on three different perches on a single visit.
For the past year I’ve had a female Northern Cardinal banging on my basement window. I posted a blog about it last spring.
Unfortunately she died in an accident last week. Tony Hawk seen here attempting to flush her out of her hiding place did managed to flush her and in her panic to escape she flew right into a window and was killed instantly. Normally Tony perches on the feeder for a while and then leaves. On this particular day he stayed around perching at three different locations before attempting to flush some birds from an arborvitae. I happened to be standing beside the window as Tony flew at an arborvitae where the female Cardinal hiding.
Since that time a Male Northern Cardinal who I assume was her mate has taken up the role of banging into my basement window.
In the past I saw large numbers of Common Goldeneyes in the Duluth Ship Canal and Harbor but after the brutal winter of 2014 when everything froze up they seemed to disappear. This year they are back although in smaller numbers.
Last week my wife and I had a meeting in Duluth and on the way up we decided to drive through Crex Meadows. I wasn’t sure what we would find because the Crex Meadows Website hadn’t been updated since January. We were very pleasantly surprised at the number of birds we saw. Large numbers of Sandhill Cranes in the flowages.
We were watching these two Cranes when we notice a Bald Eagle flying toward us. He was busy hunting and wasn’t paying much attention so I managed to get a few shots of hunting. He managed to catch what appeared to be a small fish. Shortly after catching it another Bald Eagle flew into the area and he quickly joined it. This one appeared to be not a fully mature eagle the second on was a mature eagle.
There were also large numbers of Trumpeter Swans already staking out their nesting territory. These two were right next to the road. The water was still frozen and one of them was having trouble paddling through the ice.
There were also a large number of Canada Geese in the flowages. There were far more geese that I’ve seen for quite some time. It many be that they are just passing through. These two looked like they were staking out a nesting site.
There were also a variety of ducks in the flowages. They seemed to be the most timid waterfowl and generally fly before I can get a photo. I was happy to capture a female Mallard and a female Hooded Merganser before they took off.
When I first started photographing birds I had to do it from my basement window because I didn’t have the right lenses to photograph them at the feeders. The birds would go to the feeders to get seeds then fly to a lilac bush by the basement window to eat them. This made it easy to get some close shots. Over the years I acquired better lenses and started photographing from my large windows by the feeders. I recently went back to my roots and spent the better part of a day photographing from my basement window.
Dark-eyed Juncos were around in large numbers after being absent for part of the winter.
Black-capped Chickadees were around in large numbers. This seemed to be their favorite perch for eating.
There were also a few Northern Cardinals around but they were a little skittish and wouldn’t come near the window.
At least what passes for a blizzard this year. It snowed all day and we had some strong winds but only about 6 inches of snow. When we do get a snow storm it seems to bring the Northern Cardinals out in good numbers. On this day I was lucky to get more than the the usually number of shots of female Cardinals.
A Piliated Woodpecker has been appearing at my feeders since last fall. Until yesterday I had not been able to get a photo of her. As we drove in the driveway my wife saw her at the feeder. I assumed she would be long gone by the time we unloaded the car and shut the garage door. Fortunately when I checked the feeder she was still around. I managed to get some shots of her on the suet feeder.