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Category Archives: Scarlet Tanager

 

It’s been over three years since I’ve seen a Scarlet Tanager around the farm. In May of 2011 a male and female Scarlet Tanagers turned up at my feeders. A couple of weeks ago I just happened to notice a red flash outside the window and thought it was a Northern Cardinal. It turned out to be a male Scarlet Tanager. I managed a few quick photos before he disappeared. I’ve not seen him since.Scarlet-Tanager-14-6-_7397

Scarlet-Tanager-14-6-_7389

 

Yesterday was a big bird day on the farm. I saw the first Ruby-throated Hummingbird, an Orchard Oriole turned up at my feeder as did a Gray Catbird. There was also a male Scarlet Tanager in the area.

Scarlet Tanager male

Scarlet Tanager male

Orchard Oriole

Orchard Oriole

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Grey Catbird

Grey Catbird

I was taking a last look at my 2011 photos before sending them off to storage and decided to write a brief review of the years photographic experiences.

January

Things started off with a bang with an early winter blizzard. Not only did January bring lots of snow locally but it created some fantastic ski conditions in the upper Midwest. We made a number of ski trips to the U.P. of Michigan. Our favorite ski location was Swedetown. This is a shot taken on the Backcountry Trail. Unfortunately the log was removed because the groomer could no longer get  the groomer under it with all of the snow.

Swedetown Backcountry Trail

 February

February was highlighted by a trip to the Apostle Islands Dog Sled Races in Bayfield, Wisconsin. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a bunch of excited dogs as I did in the morning before the race started. The whole parking area was a scene of bedlam. Things were much different in the afternoon when they returned from a day of racing. There wasn’t a sound to be heard from the dogs. Their tongues were hanging out and all they wanted to do was eat and lay down. It’s a trip will worth taking for the family because you can get so close to the dogs.

Off and Racing

March

In late March we were planning one last trip to Lake Superior. Unfortunately nature had one last blizzard in store for us and were snowed in for a couple of days before the township was able to get all of the roads plowed. This was a massive storm that was supposed to hit the Duluth area with lots of snow. The weather pattern changed at the last minute and the snow dropped down into our area. When we did make the trip north we found almost no snow in the Duluth area. We had hoped to find some ice along Lake Superior but there was almost none to be found. When we stopped at Tettegouche State Park we asked the  ranger if there was any ice around. That started a surreal day of hiking through great fields of ice formations. The saga was documented in an earlier postfrom that day. The storm that brought us snow brought a strong Northeaster to the North Shore and created fantastic ice sculptures.

Tettegouche State Park

 April

April brought another trip to the Minnesota North Shore. Amazingly most of the ice was gone and the spring snow melt was under way. This is a shot of the Cascades in Cascade Falls State Park.

The Cascades

 May

The highlight of May was a visit to my bird feeder of a pair of Scarlet Tanagers. I have rarely seen Tanagers and had never gotten photos of them. The male showed up one day and as soon as I saw what it was I raced for a camera. I photographed the male and then the next day the female turned up at the feeder. They were both feeding on suet. By the third day they were gone.

Scarlet Tanager male

 June

In June I made another trip to the Minnesota North Shore. Driving south from Grand Marais I noticed the fog moving in and out around Bluefin Bay. I stopped at a gas station for some coffee and then drove back to watch the fog in the early morning light.

Bluefin Bay

 July

I July I spend most of my time photographing insects and flowers. I happened to catch this Honey Bee on a Milkweed plant that was just starting to bloom.

Honey Bee

 August

August brought an invasion of Clearwing Hummingbird Moths. I had seen them along the Red Cedar River several years ago but had never seen them on my farm or at Hoffman Hills. This year they were everywhere so I spend a considerable effort to try and photograph them. I suspect I will never see as many again.

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

 September

In early September my wife and I made a trip through the U.P. of Michigan. We had planned on spending an night in Seney so we could photograph the sunset at Seney Wildlife Area. Through a stroke of luck I managed to capture my favorite photo of the year. We had not seen clouds during the day but as evening approached clouds formed in the western sky. We were late in arriving at Seney and sunset was already well underway. In addition, there were some contrails in the sky. I wasn’t happy to see them but continued to photograph the sunset. As the evening progressed th clouds and contrails combined to create an image of an eagle in sky making for a memorable photo.

Seney Sunset

 October

One of the benefits of living in the upper Midwest is the fall color displays. I had to work hard to capture them this year because just as the fall color season was starting strong winds also started blowing. They continued throughout the fall and took the leaves down almost as soon as they peaked. This photo was taken in Rusk County in northern Wisconsin.

Rusk County

 November

In November I usually make my way to Crex Meadows near Grantsburg, Wisconsin to photograph the fall Sandhill Crane migration. In November there can be as many as 14,000 Sandhill Cranes residing in Crex. On this particular day I had intended to drive out to where the cranes were roosting and not bother to stop for sunrise shots at Phantom Lake. As I drove past Phantom Lake I realized that there was going to be a spectacular sunrise. This was my favorite fall shot taken shortly after the sun came up.

Phantom Lake Sunrise

 December

December was one of the slowest photography months I’ve had. We had virtually no snow until a 6 inch wet snowfall the first week in December. My wife and I quickly drove down to the Red Cedar Trail to take advantage of the fresh snow. Fortunately we did because it quickly melted and Christmas looked more like Thanksgiving with brown grass and no snow. This is the bridge over the Red Cedar River.

Red Cedar Trail Bridge

This has been an amazing spring for bird photography around my farm. First I had more Baltimore Orioles than I’ve ever had. One appeared and then a few days later I had as many as eight at one time. They were followed by a several firsts including pair of Scarlet Tanagers who were followed by a couple of Turkey Vultures. These were in addition to all of the usual suspects.

Eastern Bluebirds

Eastern Bluebird male

Eastern Bluebird female

The Eastern Bluebirds returned the third week in April this year. Normally I’m able to get lots of photographs of them when they first return because I use some Sumac Berries to attract them to an area where they can be photographed. This year it didn’t work and they remained an elusive bird and I have fewer photographs of them than in any previous year. The female was attempting to perch on a wire during a heavy wind. The male was fluttering his wings.

Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Oriole female

Baltimore Oriole male

As I mentioned this has been an amazing year for Baltimore Orioles. Normally I have a few of them come to the feeding station around the first of May but this year they came in large numbers. I was going through a quart of grape jelly every couple of days. The numbers appearing at any one time dropped off by the middle of May but they continued to come to the feeder until the end of May. I suspect they leave to raise their young. In past years they have returned to the feeding station in July.

Scarlet Tanagers

Scarlet Tanager female

Scarlet Tanager male

I’ve only seen Scarlet Tanagers a few times in my life and never been able to photograph one. I was shocked when I looked out the window one day and noticed a male Tanager around my feeding station. I quickly grabbed the camera and started photographing him. He came to the feeder every couple of hours during the day. The next day the female joined him at the feeder. the day after that they were gone. It was an amazing experience to be able to see and photography one up close.

White-throated Sparrow

White-throated sparrow

I usually see them around in the spring. I thought they might be nesting in some of the pine trees near the house but haven’t been able to confirm that.

 

 

 

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

I usually have a few of these around each spring.

 

 

 

 

 

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting female

Indigo Bunting male

I see these more frequently down in the valleys but sometimes they come to my feeding station for the Niger seed. They are very skittish so about the only time I can get a photo of them is when I happen to be photographing other birds and they show up at the station. The female had just taken a bath.

Grey Catbird

Grey Catbird

The Grey Catbird usually shows up in the spring. Some years they nest near the house but this year they were around for just a brief time before leaving.

 

 

 

American Robin

American Robin

The American Robin usually migrates but with the warming trends can be found in the area in the winter. They usually don’t arrive at my feeding station until April at about the same time as the Eastern Bluebirds.

 

 

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted Grosbeak female

Rose-breasted Grosbeak male

Another spring bird and a frequent visitor to my feeding station.

 

 

 

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird female

Ruby-throated Hummingbird male

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird usually arrives with the Baltimore Orioles around the first of May. It is usually a project to keep them fed.

 

 

 

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallows are a frequent visitor to my farm frequently competing for rental space in my Bluebird houses. The Bluebirds seem to be the first of check the houses out but the Swallows seem to get the houses in the end.

 

 

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch female

The Red-breasted Nuthatch is an infrequent visitor to my feeding station. One year I had a pair that were around for the winter but that is rare. This year I have a female that came to the feeder for about a week and then was gone.

 

 

 

Turkey Vultures

Turkey Vultures

I see Turkey Vultures flying over the farm fairly frequently but have never seen them perched. When I first saw them from a distance I thought they were immature Bald Eagles but as I approached the tree they were perched in it became clear that they were  Turkey Vultures. I started taking photos and then walking up closer and taking more photos. They let me get fairly close to them.

 

Northern Cardinals

Northern Cardinal female

Northern Cardinal male

Northern Cardinals are year around visitors to my feeding station and they continued to visit the station again this year. The female was photographed during an early spring blizzard.

 

 

Mourning Doves

Mourning Dove

Mourning Doves are frequent visitors. Normally they spend their time cleaning up the seed that falls on the ground but this spring I did see them perched on my Niger seed feeding station. The dove was photographed during the early spring blizzard.

 

 

Dark-eyed Juncos

Dark-eyed Junco female

Juncos are normally a winter bird and they leave when the snow is gone. This year we had a late March blizzard so they were still around well into April.

 

 

 

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are frequent visitors to my suet feeders. This year, for the first time, I created a suet feeder by drilling holes in an old log and filling the holes with suet. They really seem to like it better than just hanging suet in a metal cage.

 

 

 

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

Another bird that is around all year. In the first years after they were introduced in Wisconsin I had as many as 50 wandering around and any one time. Since the introduced hunting the numbers are down. I usually see them in the spring before the grass in my prairie gets too long. This year I had one charge me while I was working in the garden. Don’t know what that was all about.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch female

American Goldfinch male

A year around visitor. The numbers vary from year to year. Some years I’ve had almost none but this year they have been around in large numbers. I much prefer photographing the females because they have much more interesting colors.

 

 

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker female

Downy Woodpecker male

A year around visitor to the feeding station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

More bird photos can be found at Philip Schwarz Photography.

Scarlet Tanager male

Scarlet Tanager female

Wow what a spring for birds. We have had an amazing number of Baltimore Orioles around for the past week. Yesterday a Scarlet Tanager showed up. I’ve only see three or four of these in my entire life and have never been able to get a photograph of one. It was amazing he came to my feeder several times during the day. I had just put a different kind of suet it the feeder and he went right for it even though there was some regular suet available. This was a packaged suet and seed mixture which included black sunflowers and corn. He seems to really like it. The amazing thing is I only put it out because I was down to my last package of suet and didn’t have any more peanut butter suet remaining. The next day the female showed up at the feeder.