It was a sunny day with strong winds in Duluth. We decided to drive over to Amnicon Falls State Park for a short photo expedition. We were more than a little surprised as we drove to the Park. In Superior Wisconsin it was 45 degrees but in Amnicon Falls it was 75. A thirty degree difference in 10 miles.
It was sunny so it was difficult to photograph the waterfalls but I managed to get a few photos.
Unfortunately one of my favorite spots to photograph, Now and Then Falls, is a mess. Several trees have gone down and the park has cut them up but the right side of the falls and the base of the falls is littered with debris. This photo was taken several years ago.
Now and Then Falls Amnicon Falls State Park
Linda put together a show of eight of my photos at the Menomonie Public Library. She did all of the printing, matting and framing of the photos. I just took the pictures. They will be on display through the month of April.
There are four Landscape photos.
Now and Then Falls Amnicon Falls State Park
Apostle Islands Sea Cave Cornucopia, Wisconsin
Crex Meadows Grantsburg ,Wisconsin
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Seney, Michigan
There are four wildlife Photos
Goslings Hoffman Hills Recreation Area Menomonie, Wisconsin
Black Bear Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary Orr, Minnesota
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Canadian Hill Farm Menomonie, Wisconsin
Monarch Butterflies Fontenac State Park Fontenac, Monnesota
With not enough snow for cross country skiing we decided to drive over to the Bjornson Education-Recreation Center for a hike on a cold day. Bjornson has a number of spring fed streams flowing through it. Watercress usually can be found growing on the streams. If it is cold out the watercress will be covered with frost flowers.
It was a dull day with not a lot to photograph but there were a few weeds sticking up out of the snow that made for an interesting pattern.
Further along on the trail we crossed a bridge covered in snow.
When it gets really cold out I usually head out to the Bjornson Education-Recreation Center a few miles from my home. There are a number of springs on the property that flow out of the hillsides. The relatively warm water from the springs combines with the cold air to create a frost covered landscape. It is made even more beautiful because a good portion of the small streams are covered in Watercress. Several years ago we had a harsh winter and in March all of the Watercress disappeared from the streams seemingly overnight. Apparently White-tailed deer normally will not eat it but if it is the only food around they will. For a couple of years the Watercress was gone from the stream but it is abundant once again.
More photos from Bjornson Education-Recreation Center can be found on my website.
I woke up this morning and found that it was -15 outside. I’ve been waiting for this type of weather so I could head out to Bjornson to try and photograph some frost. There are a number of springs that flow from the hills and when the relatively warm water exits from the hills it creates opportunities to photograph frost. It was cold and I was in the stream trying to photograph some frost and spend a little too much time photographing. When I started to leave both boots were stuck in the muck. I had a heck of a time trying to get out. Fortunately I did without taking my boots off. Here are a few shots from this morning.
Frost Covered Watercress
I normally purchase my Wisconsin state park sticker at Willow River State Park. When I stopped in December the office was closed so I thought I would try again today. This time I planned ahead and called the park. The office wasn’t open and the only way you can purchase a senior park sticker is in person. What to do? I started looking around to see if there was someplace else where I could purchase it. Turns out that Baldwin, Wisconsin has a regional DNR office and they just happened to be open on Wednesdays. Since this was on my way to Willow River I made the stop and purchased my two senior park stickers for 2012. I’m now ready to hit the parks for another year.
When I pulled into the Willow Falls parking lot there was not a car to be seen. I don’t remember the last time this happened. I suppose with the lack of snow and cold weather the falls isn’t much of a draw. The first thing I noticed was the trail to the falls was glare ice. There was no way I would make it to the falls without some ice cleats on my feet. Fortunately I always carry them on my pack in the winter. Even with them on it was slow going on the ice.
When I reached the river level I notice a mature Bald Eagle fly into a tree. As I was watching that one I noted another one in a tree. Then I saw a Pileated Woodpecker in a nearby tree. When I left home I had my Birding lens and camera in my pack and since I was too lazy to take it out I was ready to shoot the eagles. Unfortunately I only managed a distant shot before the eagles took off. I left my birding lens on the tripod and headed for the falls.
There was no frost, too warm, and very little ice in the falls. Since the ice formations were so small I decided to leave my birding lens (500mm) lens on the camera and use it to photograph the ice formations. I wandered around both sides of the river but could only find a few close-up shots that were worth taking.
As I started to leave I noticed some watercress growing in a small stream. I stopped to take a few photos of it before heading back down the trail.
Rather than go back to the car I decided to walk down the ski trail that follows the river back toward the main parking lot. Normally you couldn’t hike on the trail but since it was glare ice I though no one would mind. I heard some geese and duck along the river and thought I might get a few shots. As it turned out the ducks took off before I got close enough and the geese were too far away. I took a few ice shots and started back to the car. Just then I heard something overhead and saw six Trumpeter Swans fly over. I had seen them in this area before but didn’t expect to this year because of the large amount of open water available to them. I wasn’t quick enough to get a shot but it was a great sight nonetheless
This is probably the worst stretch for photography I’ve ever experienced. Things turned brown in mid October and have continued that way for most of the fall and into the winter. We had a brief snowfall that provided an opportunity for a few photos but for the most part there has not been much to photograph. The last couple of weeks I’ve been out to some of my winter locations without much luck.
Frozen in Time
Normally at this time of year I’m getting some great ice and frost pictures on the Red Cedar Trail. This year the trail has remained open for hiking which is great for those folks that don’t ski and would like to walk down and view the ice formations on the trail. Conditions on the trail vary from no snow, to a slight snow to ice covered. Unfortunately the ice walls have not really formed this year because it’s been so warm. The ice wall looks like it normally would in the spring when it has just about completely melted. It’s even difficult to find ice along the small streams that flow into the Red Cedar River. This was taken along the trail where a small patch of snow had melted and then froze.
The Devil’s Punchbowl has the same problem. The ice formation are very disappointing and the warm weather means that you are still walking through mud to photograph the ice that has formed. This is what it should look like at Devil’s Punchbowl this time of year.
Normally I’ve made several trips to the Bjornson Education Recreation Center by this time of year. It usually provides some interesting frost shots along the streams. There are a number of spring fed streams that run through the center and when the warm water comes out of the hills it creates a lot of steam and hence frost when it is cold. No such luck this year. There isn’t even any ice in the streams and very little snow cover on the trails. The one thing I did notice is that the Watercress has recovered in the streams. A couple of years ago we had a really harsh winter and in March all of a sudden the Watercress disappeared from the streams. The deer in the area were so desperate for food that they eliminated it in a few days and it is just now recovering.
Willow River State Park is another area I frequently visit during cold weather. There are usually some great frost and ice shots to be had. This winter most of the ice seems to be on the trails. Normally folks are skiing on the trails but the trail down from the upper parking lot to the falls is glare ice so be prepared for a fast trip down to the falls.
Northern Cardinal - male
Normally I do a lot of bird photography on my farm in the winter. This year there are hardly any birds at the feeder. There are always American Goldfinches around. Apparently they are a lazy group and would rather eat at the feeder than forage for food. Normally I have all kinds of Dark-eyed Juncos and Black-capped Chickadees around. This year the only time I’ve seen them is right after a snowfall. As soon as the snow melts they are gone. I’ve seen a few male Northern Cardinals but again only right after a snowfall. This photo was taken last year.