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My wife and I along with some friends drove over to Saint Paul, Minnesota to participate in the March for Science held on earth day. It was a beautiful day for a walk and there were a lot of folks participating.

I’ve heard about people surfing in the winter in Duluth but had never seen it. As we were driving past Brighton Beach as we entered Duluth there was a big crowd along the beach with surfers in the water. There were also a couple of folks with Kayaks in the water. It was really cold with a 25 mph wind blowing and the temperatures hoovering just above freezing. I had a difficult time holding the camera steady because I was shivering so badly. I can just imagine how much fun it was being out in the lake. I only saw a couple of the surfers catch a wave and the ride was really short.

We had a few weeks of cold weather so I decided it was time to take a drive along the Mississippi River and look for Eagles. We headed out early in the morning and had only driven a couple of miles when we drove over a small hill. All of a sudden there was a Bald Eagle right in front of the car. There was a deer carcass right on the edge of the road and the Eagle was trying to get airborne as we approached. I though for sure we were going to hit it because about all we could see out the front windshield was the Eagle. We drove down to the a place where we could turn around and drove back to see if it had returned to the carcass. It was flying around then landed in a tree above the carcass.

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After taking some photos we continued on our way. Along the way we encountered three Bald Eagles out in a field. Of course they were on the wrong side of the road so we drove down to the next cross roads and turned around. When we returned the first Eagle we encountered was immature.

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We drove down a little further and there were two adult Eagles together. I managed to photograph one standing in the field and the other as it flew off.

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We then drove down to Reads Landing just up the Mississippi River from  The National Eagle Center in  Wabasha, Minnesota. Unfortunately we were skunked at Reads Landing. As we drove along the river toward Red Wing, Minnesota we saw a few more eagles but none that we could photograph. We ended up at Colvill Park in Red Wing. In the past we had been able to get some good eagle photos in the park but on this day we only saw one Bald Eagle perched in a tree.

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In the past someone has been feeding ducks but it didn’t look like that was being done any more. I managed a shot of a couple of Mallard Ducks paddling in the bay. There were a couple of Trumpeter Swans in the area but they were too far away.

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While we were in the park a friend called and when he found out where we were he suggested driving up to Lock and Dam Number 3.  We had some trouble finding it but when we did we saw about five Bald Eagles perched in various trees. Most were too far away but I did manage a few photos.

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We realized that we were not all that far from King’s Bar and Grill in Miesville, Minnesota so we decided to stop and have a burger. They have the largest selection of Burgers I’ve ever seen. The biggest problem is trying to decide which one to have.

Several years ago we made a visit to the International Eelpout Festival in Walker, Minnesota. It had been on my bucket list for some time. During the festival I took this photo of one of the Festival royalty kissing an Eelpout. The photo recently appeared on page 57 of the Lake Time Magazine. You can check out the online version here.Eelpout-Festival-15-2-_2740

After spending some time at Au Train Falls we drove down through Au Train to Au Train Beach on Lake Superior. I managed to take a few shots while my wife was trying to find the Packer game on the radio.

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Last weekend was Farm-City Day in our area. It offered non-farmers a chance to get out and see what is happening in farming. Turned out the farm was just down the road from us. We drive past it all the time and didn’t even know it existed. We arrived when the event was scheduled to start and there were already over 50 cars in the parking lot.

After registering we boarded a hay wagon for a trip around the farm. I would have liked to walk around but I suspect the liability would be too great.

We drove past the barn where the new born calves are house. They stay with their mothers for a week and then are moved to this fully automated calf barn. Feeding is automatic and RFD tags allows the farm to monitor each calves food intake. Beading is sawdust made from old buildings torn down in the Twin Cities. As the calves grow they are moved through a succession of barns.

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We passed two large liquid manure holding tanks. The were cement with clay underneath to prevent any leakage into the ground water. Sand is used for bedding for the older cows and 99 percent of it is recovered cleaned and reused.

The silage pile was 36 feet high. An iron pipe is driven into the top of the pile so workers can use a safety harness when working on the pile. The pile is on concrete and any drainage is cleaned or pumped into the Liquid manure pit. It takes two people 8 hours per day to feed the cattle.

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The highligh of the visit was the milking parlor. It was circular and turned. The cows hopped on and when done milking hopped off. It holds 60 cows and takes 8 minutes to rotate. As we watched it look like two people were preparing the cows and attaching the milkers.

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The equipment to cut the silage is designed to scan the wagon and then automatically fill it to capacity before turning off.

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The equipment to spread the liquid manure places it in the ground rather than spreading it on the surface.

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The farm expects to milk 2,000 cows next year. My grandfather had about a dozen.

 

 

We made a late season trip through Crex Meadows the last week of summer. Things were relatively quiet. We did see a number of hawks and eagles, there were quite a few ducks around. Most of the flowers were gone as well as the butterflies.
There were a lot of Wood Ducks around, far more than I’ve seen before. It was a little difficult to photograph birds because the ducks were very skittish and the grass was so high along the road it was difficult to use the car as a blind.

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The Trumpeter Swans are around. This year’s batch of young are almost adults now.

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Grebes can be found on the various flowages.

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Smartweed is blooming.

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There was some color in the trees but it looks like most of the Aspen and Birch trees are turning brown. We noticed this same phenomenon as we drove through Northern Wisconsin.

A few weeks ago my wife and I decided to drive down to the Red Cedar State Trail for a short walk. The day before I hurt my back so I thought a good long walk would help. Since the goal was to rehab by back I left by camera at home. When we reached the trail there was a heavy fog, nice dew on the flowers, no wind and ideal conditions for photography. That’s always the way it works.

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On our hike we found the Groundnuts were in full bloom. The next morning it was foggy and no wind so I grabbed my camera and headed for the Trail. Of course when I reached the trail there was a strong wind blowing. In spite of the wind I was able to get some photos of the groundnuts.

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When my wife and I were at the Paddle Across the Bay race in Washburn, Wisconsin earlier this summer she had a chance to cat sit with Bugs. When I first saw her and Bugs I though she had adapted a cat. Fortunately she was just watching Bugs while his owner was participating in the race. Little did we know that Bugs was quite famous. A friend of ours from the Bayfield area sent us an article that appeared in the Bayfield County Journal. Turns out Bugs has her own Facebook page.

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We were up early, on the first of June, because we had a long day ahead of us. It had rain the previous afternoon and throughout the evening but when we woke up it was a bit cloudy but the rain had stopped. Our agenda for the day was to spend the entire day driving around the Látrabjarg Peninsula and most importantly search for Puffins on the Latrabjarg bird-cliffs.
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We took highway 62 out of Patreksfjörður. Along the road we noticed a fish farm just outside of Patreksfjörður.

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When we reached the head of Patreksfjörður we turned off on highway 612 which would take us to the bird cliffs. Just after turning off we found the Garðar BA 64 beached at the head of the fiord. It was built in Norway in 1912 and after WWII it ended up in Iceland. It was used as a whaling and fishing boat until 1981 when it was no longer fit for service. Normally it would have been scuttled at sea but, for some reason, it was beached at the head of the Patreksfjörður where it has remained.

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A short drive up the fjord we passed the Patreksfjörður airport which was located among the sand dunes. You can see Patreksfjörður on the other side of the fjord. The second photo is of the highlands from around the airport.

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Highway 612 is nothing to brag about. It was dirt, narrow, filled with potholes and the occasional boulder. We encountered several road crews working on the road. It was early in the tourist season and they were just starting to work on the roads.

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We encountered these beautiful sand beaches near Hnjótur.

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Our next stop for the day was the Egill Ólafsson Museum in Hnjótur. It was started by Egill Ólafsson when he noticed that everyone was throwing told tools and fishing paraphernalia out. He started collecting it and eventually it was turned into a museum. We stopped to use the rest room but the Museum was still closed. Just as we were about to leave it opened. We spend some time looking around and found it a very interesting place.

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Egill Ólafsson was also interested in airplanes an interest he passed on to his son. When the American Air Base in Keflavík closed he purchased this plane and trucked it to the Museum site in Hnjótur. If you look back at the photo of the road you can see that it was a major project to get the plane to its current site.

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As we were heading into the highlands we found this small waterfall along the road.

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The first photo shows a cairn marking the way across the highlands. The second photo looks across the highlands toward the Latrabjarg bird-cliffs.

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As we drove down out of the highlands we entered the small town of Breidavik. It only consists of a few buildings but because of all of the traffic to the bird cliffs they had rented a traffic cop to slow down the traffic.

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Just outside Breidavik we encountered the old Brunnar Fishing Station. In the 1880’s there were about 20 boats and 100 fishermen stationed at Breidavik from April to July.

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The short drive, along the coast, from Brunnar Fishing Station to Latrabjarg bird-cliffs offered some beautiful scenery.

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Once we reached the bird cliffs we started walking along the trail at the top of the cliffs. It was a spectacular walk along the cliffs although we were not having much luck finding Puffins. We had only seen one Puffin when we stopped for lunch.

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We were talking with several people when I caught a movement up the trail. It looked like a fox had just gone over a small rise in the trail. The folks we were talking to said it could only be an Arctic Fox because there were no other small animals in the area. As we continued our walk along the cliffs we were able to spot the fox walking along the trail ahead of us. It gradually made its way down into a valley below the cliffs. We watched it for a long time before losing sight of it. We were really lucky to see an Arctic Fox.

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We were not seeing any Puffins so we started back toward the parking lot. Once again we noticed the Arctic Fox moving along the valley below us. It went behind a small hill and we lost sight of it. We stopped to look at some birds before resuming out walk back to the parking lot. As we turned to head back on the trail I noticed the Arctic Fox was on the trail just ahead of us. It walked ahead of us for a short distance before dropping over the cliffs. We waited for a while to see if it we could find it but we did not see it again.

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The view of the sea and the rocks below the cliffs were outstanding.

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On our way back to the parking lot we were able to see a few more Puffins. Some folks seemed to be taking lots of photos of a few Puffins. We were actually a little early for Puffin viewing. They were just starting to return to their nesting ground. Once they return, later in June, and start raising their young there will be some good photo opportunities. The irony was that we walked for several miles and ended up seeing the most puffins withing 100 yards of the parking lot.

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Just before leaving I walked over to the lighthouse to see if I could see any seals. The person at the Egill Ólafsson Museum said that people had been seeing them below the lighthouse. Sure enough there were a few of them swimming in the surf.

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We then started back to Patreksfjörður where we were going to stay a second night. On the way we decided to make a side trip to Raudasandur Beach so we headed off on highway 614. The road was not the best but the views were great.

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When we arrived there was a beautiful view of Raudasandur Beach. When we drove to the end of the road found this black church. Saurbaer Church is said to be one of only 4 black churches in Iceland.

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After a brief stop we returned over the highlands with some great views of  Patreksfjörður. You can see the fish farm just outside the city of Patreksfjörður.

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On the way back we stopped again at the Egill Ólafsson Museum for a little coffee and cake and to take in a movie of the Látrabjarg sea cliffs rescue. In December 1947 a British trawler, the Dhoon, ran aground in a storm off  the vertiginous Látrabjarg sea cliffs. The locals were called to rescue the crew on the stranded ship under appalling conditions. they had to climb down the cliffs and bring the crew off the boat one at a time. They were able to save 12 of the crew members. The movie was in Icelandic but still very gripping. The second photo shows the cliffs where the rescue took place.

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As we were leaving the Látrabjarg Peninsula we passed a bird nesting grounds. there were about 5 species of birds around. Lots of Arctic Terns were nesting and were not happy. We initially drove past them but then turned around and went back so I could photograph them from the car window. We also saw this Oyster Catcher leave its nest. We had seen Oyster Catchers throughout the trip but hadn’t realized they build their nests right on top of the rocks and along the road.

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We then drove back to our Airbnb in Patreksfjörður. After having a bite to eat at the local N1 we drove through the town to look around. It was a beautiful evening at the harbor. A fitting end to a great day of exploration.

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