After leaving the Lamar Valley we drove over the mountains to visit the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Although the clouds were forming they made for an interesting sky for the wide angle shots of the Canyon.
The highlight of the trip was seeing a large number of Bald Eagles and Osprey. They were on their nests and fishing in the Canyon. We noticed some folks with large lenses looking at something and they were watching an Osprey nest. As we watched the second adult arrived from a fishing trip and deposited it catch. It then switched places with its mate on the nest. The couple we were talking to came every day to check on the nest. At this point there were two eggs in the nest.
We continued our hike down the North Rim Trail to the viewing stand for the lower falls. We were a little surprised that there were not more people at the viewing stand. For the first time ever we were the only folks at the viewing stand. We could see some folks on a viewing platform at the bottom of the falls on the South Rim and decided to try and find the trail to it.
We returned to the top of the North Rim and drove over to the South Rim and Artists Point.
It was difficult to get a photo with all of the people in the viewing area and most of them taking selfies. Selfies should be banned from National Parks.
As we drove back on the South Rim Road we decided to stop and take the hike down the Uncle Toms Trail. We determined this was the way to the viewing stand we had seen from the North Rim. Part of the trail consists of 300 plus steep steps almost straight down. I was so intent on the view I didn’t realize that my wife was petrified the entire time she was on the stairs.
The walk and viewing platform offered some great views from the bottom of the lower falls. On the way back up we encountered a few light showers.
When we first drove into the North Rim area we noticed this Buffalo lounging in the dandelions. There were a few cars in the pullout space so we didn’t stop. On the way back, late in the day, he was still in the same spot.
As we started back for Gardiner we could see that we would be encountering some bad weather. We encountered very heavy rain, sleet and snow as we drove back over the mountains.
With the lousy spring I wasn’t able to get out and visit my favorite Blue Heron rookery. We have been visiting it for a number of years now. Unfortunately it seems to decline a bit every year. This year there were far fewer nests with birds in them and those with birds in them had about half the number of young. Normally we see four young birds in each nest. This year no nest had more than two birds.
Our visit was around noon so there wasn’t a lot of activity. Just as we started to leave an adult Blue Heron came to the nest to feed the young.
We always are on the lookout for Green Herons around the rookery. This year we saw what appeared to be two different pairs. Unfortunately they were a little shy and stayed a considerable distance from our vantage point.
Every year there are a nesting pair of Osprey in the rookery. This year they abandoned their normal nest and moved to a new nest on the other side of the rookery. For some reason abandoning nests seems to be in vogue this year. Three of the eagle nests I watch were abandoned this year.
More photos from the rookery can be found on my website.
My wife and I were on a business trip that took us north of Bloomer, Wisconsin. We realized that we were not far from the Island Lake Rookery so we drove over to check things out. We were looking for all of the usual suspects and found them all.
Blue Heron Nest
The main attraction is the large number of Blue Herons that are nesting in the area. We counted about twenty nesting herons. This seems to be a bit less than in past years. It also appears that some of the dead trees have fallen down. The young herons are getting big. I think they are about a month old now and growing fast. We happened to arrive in early afternoon so there wasn’t a lot of activity. A few herons were flying in and out of the nest. It looked like the adults were dumping food on the nest rather than regurgitating it into the moths of the young.
The second reason to visit the rookery is to see the Green Herons. We usually see a couple of them but this trip we saw six of them flying around. Most of them were too far away to get a shot but one spent quite a bit of time hunting for food within camera range. This is one of the better locations for photographing Green Herons because you can get fairly close to them.
The third bird we were looking for was the Osprey. There is a large Osprey nest in one of the trees in the pond. Both adults were at the nest but we couldn’t see any young. I think that Osprey nest a little later than Eagles so their young might not be as far along.
More photos from Island Lake Rookery can be found on my website.
Blue Heron on Nest
We made my second visit this month to Island Lake Rookery. We spent the weekend at Long Lake and stopped by Island Lake on the way home. In an earlier blog I had mentioned that there were fewer Blue Herons nesting at the rookery this year. When we stopped yesterday almost all of them were gone. There were a few lone herons perched on a some of the nests. I think we counted six herons in all and most of those were on the ground.
Osprey on Nest
The Ospreys were still in their nest. At one point both parents were bringing food to the two young in the nest. From the looks of things the young were about to leave the nest. They were standing tall and testing their wings. Both parents were on trees near the nest calling to the young in an attempt to them to fly from the nest. This is a shot of both parents arriving at the nest at the same time.
The Green Herons were around but it took a while to find them. It was early in the afternoon and they were perched a couple of different places grooming themselves. In the time we were there they didn’t fly at all so we were lucky to spot them.
As noted in my previous blog posting my wife and I stopped at Island Lake Rookery over the 4th to see what was going on in the rookery. This was my second visit to the rookery this spring. I had stopped early in the spring just as the birds were arriving and setting up nests. My impression, at that time, was that there were fewer birds than last year but I thought it might be because it was early in the year and the young were not in the nest. Unfortunately, I had the same impression from the last visit. Many of the nests were not occupied this year. Last year there were hardly any empty nests. Not sure what is going on.
Great Blue Heron
Island Lake is a great place for photography because it is next to a road and there is a clear view of the rookery. What attracted me to this rookery was the large number of Blue Herons and the fact you could easily view them from the road. Right now the young are almost as large as the adults. It is a real treat to watch when the adult returns with food. This particular adult tried to do the feeding from the branches above the nest but kept falling off into the nest. It is quite a racket when the parent returns with food.
Another attraction, at the rookery, is an Osprey nest. When we first arrived there appeared to be an adult on the nest and a Bald Eagle on another perch some distance from the nest. I thought this was a little strange because the two don’t get along. When I looked through the camera it was apparent that both were adult Osprey. there are several young in the nest. I would think they should be up and about in the next few weeks.
The other bird we watched for quite some time was a pair of Green Herons. One came over by the road so were able to watch it up close as it hunted. I only wish I had as much patience as the Green Heron does. It sat on a branch and waited for dragonflies to land on the branch above it. This shot shows it eying lunch. It also managed to catch a frog from the same perch.
This past July 4th weekend I had an opportunity to get some great birds of prey photos. On Saturday night we took a boat trip on Long Lake (east of Spooner, Wisconsin). My brother-in-law knew of a Bald Eagle nest that had two eaglets that were about to fledge. As we boated past the nest there were two eaglets on the nest with an adult in a nearby tree. On the way back down the lake we passed the nest again and one of the adults had just brought some food to the nest. The other adult was still in a nearby tree. This nest was not as large as some since it was just built this year.
On Sunday we started home and drove past an Osprey nest a few miles from my brother-in-laws house. There was one bird on the nest and it appeared to be a fledgling Osprey. While we were watching it was constantly making sounds and flapping its wings. All of a sudden it flew from the nest and circled above. It would circle for a while then land. This went on for quite a while so we concluded that it was a fledgling practicing takeoffs and landings.
Later in the day we drove past Island Lake Rookery to view another Osprey nest. There was one adult in the nest with some young still in the nest. The second adult was in a tree not far away. These young seemed to be quite a bit smaller than the one we had seen near Long Lake.