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We recently spent a morning driving around Crex Meadows. During a stop at the visitors center we found that several eagles had been spotted earlier in the morning. We were lucky to find they were still hanging around. This one was sitting by the nest. A little later in the morning we noticed it was hunting on Phantom Lake. When it caught a fish it went back to the nest were we were able to watch it feeding its young.

Bald Eagle

We did not spot many Sandhill Cranes. This one was near the road. I suspect most of the others were nesting deeper in the marshes.

We could see Trumpeter Swans nesting but they were all quite some distance from the road. We did encounter three non nesting swans in a small pool.

We found this pair of Ring-necked Ducks in a small pond.

Lots of Red-winged Blackbirds around the area.

The muskrats were very active throughout the flowages.

We noticed this Killdeer ahead of us so we stopped. It was very accommodating and walked right up to us and posed for photos.

The marsh grass provided some interesting patterns. In the second photo the area had recently been burned providing for a variety of colors as it started to grow again.

The Lily Pads were starting to grow now that the ice is off of the flowages.

After the long Primitive Trail Hike the day before we decided to hike up to Delicate Arch in the morning. It was cooler and made even more so by a strong breeze. When we first drove into the parking lot I noticed someone carrying a wedding dress. The last time I was at Delicate Arch a wedding had taken place.

More photos from Arches National Park can be found on my website.

Our first stop was the Wolfe Ranch where we stopped for a few photos before heading on to Delicate Arch. I think the HGTV crowd would consider it a gut job although it probably would bring several hundred thousand in the California real estate market.

The first part of the trail was well marked and relatively flat.

Even early in the morning there were quite a few people making the hike and the parking lot was almost full when we arrived.

Lots of cairns marking the trail although since there was a sign at the spot they really weren’t needed.

The last part of the trail looked to me like a freeway but my wife was sticking close to the inside of the trail.

The morning is not the best time to photograph Delicate Arch but we were more interested in the hike than the photography. It is almost impossible to photograph the Arch without getting people in the photograph.

As we neared end of the hike I noticed the bride changing into her wedding dress. She not only carried the dress up but a changing tent. The wind was really blowing and my wife was concerned that the dress would act like a sail and she would blow off of the mountain. The bridegroom was no where to be found and I found that the bride was just up at the arch for pictures.

In the late afternoon there is a great view of Delicate Arch from this small arch along the trail. Notice my wife is still hugging the inside on the way down. I got the impression she doesn’t hike heights.

A little later in the morning and there was a steady stream of people going to and from the Arch. When we stopped to take the photo we ran into a hike we had met on the Primitive Trail the day before. He helped me down a steep stretch of trail. I carried my tripod with the camera mounted the entire hike and I needed both hands free to get down one section. His son had been sick and was still sick so he was hiking alone. We were encounter him one more time on our trip. We were driving over to Bryce National Park a couple of days later and had stopped at a pull off to take some photos. He happened to be at the same pull off.

 

We stopped along the trail to photograph some rock art.

Once we were back in the car we drove about another mile along the road and hiked up to a couple of viewpoints with some good morning views of the Arch with the sun in the background. On the last shot I use my pocket camera with it’s 720mm lens to get a closeup of the Arch. There were now a ton of people at the Arch.

 

 

 

 

 

The last time I visited Arches National Park I hiked the Primitive Trail and I wanted to do it again this trip along with my wife. She had never hiked the trail and I had forgotten what it was like. The last time I did it I was alone and met almost no one else on the trail. Things have changed. This trip there were lots of people on the trail and it was difficult to get shots without getting someone in the photo. At almost every arch someone was posing under the arch. It required great patience on my part not to say anything to them.

More photos from Arches National Park can be found on my website.

The trail starts at Landscape Arch.

Just past Landscape Arch the trail follows a gap in the rocks and is quite steep. The first photo was taken looking up the trail toward the top of the ridge and the second photo was taken back toward Landscape Arch.

The trail is well marked with cairns.

There were some very interesting patterns in the rocks at Navajo Arch.

This well placed cairn marked the trail to Partition Arch.

From Partition Arch to Double O Arches you are at the high point of the trail with some stunning views of the Park.

At Double O Arches we took a side trail over to Dark Angel and had some spectacular views of the Salt Valley.

 

We stopped along the Dark Angel trail and had a bite to eat. We soon had a visitor who was determined to have a snack with us.

We rejoined the main Primitive Trail and followed the trail down off of the ridge. This section of the trail was not marked as well as earlier sections. Quite a few people turn back and retrace their steps from Double O Arches because the trail is more difficult from this point on. We took another short side hike to Private Arch. Just beyond Private Arch there were some nice views. Earlier in the hike we could see hikers way down below by Private Arch.

This section of the trail was probably the most difficult. It was very steep and if you slipped you would probably fall about twenty feet. It became a bottleneck and everyone was helping others get through this section. I can’t imagine how I got through this section alone. In my mountain climbing one of the sayings was “When in doubt lean out”. In other words don’t lean in and push yourself off of the hold. I mentioned this to my wife and she said “I am leaning out!!!” Actually she was plastered to the rock face.

Once we were down out of the rocks the trail was much easier and provided some nice views of the La Sal Mountains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are a variety of spring flowers blooming on the south slopes of the hills on the farm.

Large-flowered Bellwort

Large Flowered Trillium

Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Downy Yellow Violet

Common Blue Violet

Pussytoes

Wood Anemone

This past week I saw large numbers of American Goldfinches at my feeders. I hadn’t seen many for a while but the are really back and loving a new thistle seed feeder.

The second most frequent visitor to the feeder is the White-throated Sparrow. They tend to turn up in large numbers in the spring. They are ground feeders so it is not unusual to see a dozen of them on the ground under the feeders.

I’ve seen Yellow-rumped Warblers around the farm in the spring but this is the first time I’ve seen them at my feeders. There seems to be about a half dozen of them that are enjoying my suet feeders. The first few days there were only males at the feeder but I’ve noticed a females are now showing up.

I have a number of Chipping Sparrows at my feeders. The too seem to like the Suet feeders.

On a beautiful cool morning my wife and I took a walk on the Red Cedar State Trail. There were large numbers of flowers out along the Trail. The Bloodroot and the Pussy Willows were just about done blooming. It was early in the morning and the Bloodroot had not opened yet.

Bloodroot

Pussy Willow

The White Trout Lillie’s were out in some places. When we walked by the first time they were not open yet but when we returned they had opened.

 

The Anemone were out in large numbers along the trail.

 

Wood Anemone

Canada Anenome

There were large groups of Spring Beauty blooming on the side of the trail.

Lots of Common Blue Violets can be found.

My wife and I made our first visit to Hoffman Hills since returning from vacation. We were curious to see if the Canada Geese had nested at the ponds again this year. We were happy to see one pair had nested on the first pond. Normally they nest on a small island in the middle of the pond but the last few years the water has been so high that they have been nesting on shore. One was on the nest and the other staged nearby watching as we approached.

On the second pond we didn’t find any birds but there were quite a few Painted Turtles sunning themselves. Normally when we approach they slip into the water but this time they just continued to hang out and ignored us.

After walking around the ponds we headed out into the Prairie area to check on the birds. We wanted to see if the Tree Swallows and Easter Bluebirds were nesting yet. The bluebirds were sitting on one of the bird houses and several pair of Tree Swallows were dive bombing them. The male stayed off to the side but the female maintained here position on the house to protect it from the swallows.

There were a few flowers out. The Marsh Marigolds were out around the first pond and the Prairie Smoke was just starting to come out in the Prairie area.

 

 

The first part of April the first Eastern Bluebirds returned for the summer. They have been searching for housing in the area.

Eastern Bluebird

They were followed by the Tree Swallows. The battle for nesting spots has begun.

Tree Swallow

The Chipping Sparrows have been frequenting my feeders.

Chipping Sparrow

The song Sparrows are back and singing up a storm.

Song Sparrow

White-throated Sparrows can be found at the Feeders.

White-throated Sparrow

The Dark-eyed Junco is a winter bird but a few of them are still hanging around. I expect they will all be gone in the next few weeks.

Dark-eyed Junco

 

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.

After driving highway 128 we checked into our motel and then drove out to Arches National Park. As we approached the park we noticed a sign that the park would be closed from 7 in the evening until 7 the next morning. What a bummer! I probably should have check out the park website before making the trip although it didn’t make any difference we would have stopped at Arches regardless. It just eliminated the option of sunrise and sunset photography and made my wife happy.

More photos from Arches National Park can be found on my website.

Pine Tree Arch

We thought we had better tour the desert southwest before the jackass in the white house puts an oil well up by each of the arches and sells naming rights to the oil companies.

Broken Arch

We didn’t make it to all of the arches but managed to bag quite a few of them.

Turret Arch

Tunnel Arch

Skyline Arch

Sand Dune Arch

Partition Arch

North and South Windows Arches

Navajo Arch

Double Arch

Delicate Arch