The Bird’s the Word

So the boss is out and I thought I would play today on my blog, LOL.  Seriously, I just thought I’d throw in a modge podge of photos I’ve taken since Saturday when I posted.  I won’t post until this evening when I get home to add the photos.

On Sunday my sidekick and I took my friend to the refuge to hike the Blue Hill Trail.  After a week of 60′s and 70′s, we woke up to sunny and 38.  Yikes!  We were going to do the 2.5 miles, instead of the 5.  Some day we’ll do the 5 I keep telling myself.  Some day we’ll do the Mahnomen Trail as well.  Maybe Saturday.

At any rate, the day started out chilly.  My friend is looking into places to take her son’s senior photos, so we stopped at one of my favorite red barns, this time a Spring shot.  Found out it is NOT a place for a senior photo shoot, as it is almost under water.  Which is very sad :(

We pulled into the refuge and there were a few cars parked on the trail.  It was a pretty uneventful hike.  I had been raving about the refuge and we didn’t see much.  It is really hit or miss.  We saw an eagle sitting in a tree close to the parking lot.  Several birds were seen on the trail, but too fast or too far away to take a nice photo.  A Downy Woodpecker, a Mallard couple.  A couple of Canada Geese.  I heard a Blue jay and several Black-Capped Chickadees.  We certainly saw more signs of spring.  Lots of muskrat “huts” have sprung up and Canada Geese have made their nests on them.  A very common occurrence at the refuge and everywhere else. 

We stopped on one of the bridges to take photos of the stream, and my sidekick moved on.  She called me (from about a 1/2 block away) on my cell and (what I thought she said) “mom, hurry and get over here, there are 6 sandhill cranes”.  So my friend and I walked silently, slowly to where she was.  Only to find out that she had said “there are 6 eagles soaring”.  UGH!  When we got to where she was they were gone!  I was creeping slowly so as not to scare off the sandhill cranes.  Go figure.  She is still laughing about it. 

Halfway through the trail, my sidekick felt the “urge” and we had to speed it up and get back out to the parking lot and the bathrooms.  Another UGH.  All in all, it was a good hike, a good day.   The sun came out and the temperature rose to the low 60′s.   I hadn’t seen my friend for quite some time and we promised to meet up when the Wildlife Drive opens on the refuge next month.

We had errands to run, and grabbed our bag of bread to feed the ducks at the local pond.  Much to my surprise, we ran into these Ring-Necked Ducks and one lone Redhead.  I’m sure the same one we ran across the other night when I didn’t have my memory card.   The photos aren’t as sharp as I’d like, but these all are firsts for me.  Had to look them up in my Audubon Guide.  They moved further away as she threw bread out.  The mallards came from across the pond looking for the handouts.

On Tuesday, I went for a walk during lunch at the Woodland Trails Park again, looking to find signs of spring hoping to catch some new species.  It was quite windy but fairly mild at about 55 degrees.  I came across a bridge that I discovered last winter and had taken a photo of.  I like to take seasonal photographs of the same thing, in order to show the changes.

I heard lots of birds, just didn’t actually SEE them.  Lots of chickadees, crows, robins.  Then a group of these little fellows.  My Audubon Guide tells me it is either a American Tree Sparrow or Chipping Sparrow?  Maybe my friend Bob Zeller can help me out here?  I know it is not a very good photo to ID with the branch in the way. 

I have about 33 days left in my Project 365 so I have been just driving around for something that catches my eye.  On Wednesday, this was it.  Another barn.  Big shocker.   I was pulled over to the side of the country road with my flashers on and the mail lady actually pulled over and asked me if I needed help.  I thought that was very nice, that doesn’t happen often.  My reply was “Nope, this is just what I do, take pictures of basically NOTHING.”  LOL. 

I had to throw this one in of my beautiful Chloe.  She was my day 330/365 because it was her 2nd birthday.  Full of mischief, this one.  But cuddly when she wants to be.  Which isn’t very often, but we love her nonetheless.

Now today was my favorite day.  I went for a walk at one of my local parks.  Turns out today it was my favorite park :)  LOTS of birds to be seen today.  I only wish I could’ve stayed, but I had to go back to work.  I was barely on the path when I noticed a Cedar Waxwing flying into a tree.  Then another, and another.  They were flitting about like crazy.  A bunch landed on a bush and I started snapping.  They are so cool, and look like the masked bandits or racoons of the bird world.  They mainly eat blossoms and flowers. 

I reluctantly left the Cedar Waxwings and meandered down the boardwalk path.  I heard the Red-Winged Blackbirds singing, and the Black-Capped Chickadees.  Also the Robins.  Then I heard them.  The call I had been listening for.  The Sandhill Cranes.  My sidekick was at a friend’s today, the start of Spring Break.  I texted her immediately and she wanted me to go pick her up, LOL.  However, I only had so much time.  So I promised we would go back after work tonight.  As I walked toward the sounds of the cranes, I pulled out my iPhone and found my Audubon Guide app and played the voice of the crane.  Sure enough they responded and started “croaking” again.  Finally, I saw them.  There were about 8 of them.  They are so hard to see, they blend in so well with the brown grass and cattails.  One flew over to the other side and they were all calling to each other.  I was so sad I had to leave.  And also sad I do not have a 400 or 500 mm lens!  LOL.

I turned to go, and a nice little Bluebird couple past in front of me way too fast.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw a red flash, and was so excited it was a cardinal and his lady friend.  I just couldn’t get a good shot, he was avoiding me like the plague.  But thought this was so cute, he’s looking right at me like, “HA, you’ll never catch me!”  His mate is to the left.

On my way back to the car, it was like it was crazy.  Birds galore, LOTS of woodpeckers, like these two.  The whole way back to the car, I was hearing the Sandhill Cranes calling back and forth to each other.  I couldn’t wait for work to get over with so we could go back.

After work, I picked my sidekick up and we headed over there.  No Cedar Waxwings, but a few of the woodpeckers and robins were there.  We walked down the path and played the Sandhill Crane call from my iPhone.  Sure enough we heard back from them.  However, we couldn’t spot them to save our soul.  Talk about disappointment.  We will definitely be headed back tomorrow, LOL.  We did see this Northern Flickr, not a great shot but I think they are cool looking, so wanted to share it.  Also liked the cattails with the sun behind.

We are anxiously planning our short trip to the National Eagle Center on Good Friday in Wabasha, MN.  It is a 2-1/2 hour drive so we are spending the night and coming home Saturday, just in time for coloring eggs and getting stuff ready for church and Easter dinner on Sunday.  We are excited for the trip, and I hope that I get some good photos.  It will be our first time there, and I hear there are several eagle nests along the river near, and lots of parks and photo ops.  We are just happy to be going out of town for some new scenery.

Thanks for stopping by, see ya soon!

Enjoying Spring!

WOWSA has it really been two weeks since I’ve posted?  Why, yes, yes it has!  We have been busy running here and there, and I have been taking photos of course!  We have definitely been enjoying Spring in Minnesota!  We last left off a couple weeks ago and I was getting antsy for the birds to arrive, and a few were arriving here and there.  We have had some outstanding weather here.  It has been in the 60′s and 70′s and we have total ice-out on the lakes and rivers.  We have buds on the trees and grass is greening fast.  Very, very unheard of in most Minnesota winters. It has been a very unbelievable winter, and so far, Spring.

The last couple weeks we have had walks at the park, fed the ducks, and I have hiked some trails.  Signs of Spring are all around!

Here are a few of my Project 365 photos and more, enjoy!

We took a walk at our local pond park one beautiful evening and this was one of the first Red Winged Black Birds we saw this season.

This male Mallard was totally flirting with me and posing, he was so dang cute :) 

Mallards are plenty at this park, as you will see shortly.  However, this night there were a couple of Buffleheads thrown into the mix as well.

Throughout the week, I walked different trails in the area and saw a few “FOS” (first of season) birds for me (the above Buffleheads are included in this category). 

I wasn’t sure what this was while I was taking the photo.  When I got home, my sidekick had to identify it for me :)  A Brown Creeper.  That’s my girl.

This Song Sparrow was singing me a wonderful tune, too bad the branch was in the way.  I hate branches!

This was my favorite that day, the Sandhill Cranes have returned!  My sidekick’s favorite, I wished she would’ve been with me.

And the cattails, I love them when they are in “full display” in the summer months, but I also like to take pictures of them while they are in different seasons!

There was the day we went to our local Dam park.  We had heard of the Osprey nest, but never found it.  However, I got a couple photos of the dam, and we came across this beauty.  A Great Blue Heron rookery.  However, the herons weren’t to be found until we got back into the car and started to drive away, go figure.  But would’ve been too far away to take photos.  It was pretty cool anyway.

Someone obviously was not a happy camper when they left that day, LOL. 

Then there were these hilarious Canada Geese.  There were others across the river and this guy/gal was yelling and running around like a chicken with his head cut off.  I think it was a mating display, but we were cracking up!  There were also a couple of beautiful Woodducks (FOS) across the river, but too far away to get a good shot.  Story of my life.

There was the night that we went for a walk after it had been a bit rainy, and I had gone during the day to the same walking trail.  Residents have been saying there are a couple of whooping cranes calling in the park.  I had heard a couple of squacks, but didn’t know what it was.  When my sidekick and I went back, we heard it again, but didn’t see it.  It would be fantastic, as they are very rare around here, around anywhere I think.  But we did see another set of Sandhill cranes fly over and came across this beauty.  I think it’s my favorite of the whole couple weeks.

We stopped back at the “mallard park” on our way hone and this time brought some bread.  Oh, my.  What fun she had.  At one point she had almost 20 mallards hanging out following her with that bread.  She called herself the “duck whisperer”.  It was hilarious!  We saw and heard a Bluebird couple (FOS) but I was too far away for a good shot.  Not worried, they are in abundance this time of year around here :)

Last but not least, these were taken yesterday.  Woke up yesterday morning to fog and had to stop by the river.  I was 8 minutes late for work :)  My boss laughed because the minute I got to work he said “let’s see the camera” LOL.  Then I walked for a bit at lunch, and this little guy was following me.  “chipmunk stalker”  hehehe…

And I suppose I should throw in a couple barns from the last couple weeks.

We went back to the mallard park today with bread in hand.  Not very many mallards, though.  Seagulls, geese and one lone Redhead (another FOS for me).  Wouldn’t you know, I grabbed my camera to find no memory card.  It was back at home still in my laptop from last night!  UGH.

At any rate, we are headed to my Peaceful Place hiking tomorrow, hoping to find some Sandhill Cranes or other furry or feathered-friends.  We are bringing along one of my old highschool girlfriends, we should have some fun! 

Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoyed my photos.  I will try not to stay away too long this time :)

Sheila

Spring….and Project 365

I figured I better post the last couple weeks of my Project 365 photos before I got too far behind.    I had a few good ones and a few that I just didn’t feel it.  But I told myself a long time ago that the challenge was a photo a day for 365 days.  Not a “masterpiece” a day.  If I take a photo of my foot, it counts, LOL.  So I will showcase some (and add a few other favorites from the last couple weeks) and put the rest of the “duds” out to pasture.  I do post my photos every day on my Facebook page.  I know I shouldn’t say “duds”, as I can’t believe I have gotten this far in my Project 365.  I have 50 days left.  I’m pretty proud of myself, excited and sad at the same time, for it to end.  I will miss it and will continue to bring my camera everywhere I go.  I have decided I am going to do some type of 52 week challenge next.

We have been enjoying some awesome weather in the 60’s here, the latest snowstorm snow is all but gone and it is actually supposed to reach 72 tomorrow.  But in Minnesota, I do believe it will get worse before it gets better.   We have had snow in April, so we may see the other shoe fall soon.  However, any snow we get at this point will be gone within a couple days with the warmer temperatures.

Spring is definitely arriving, slowly but surely.   Over the weekend, on my photo drive (for more barns and old houses), I saw motorcycles out and about.  Up here, that means Spring.  I saw two robins, a red-winged blackbird and heard a mourning dove.  All definite signs of Spring.  This morning while I was taking my sidekick in for a throat culture (another sign of Spring, unfortunately), she saw a couple robins, pointed them out to me and said sheepishly, and with a bit of a red face, “I think they’re mating.”   I said, “tis the season”.  LOL. 

I can’t wait for mid-April when the Wildlife Drive opens on our local refuge.  We  went there a couple times a week last spring and summer.  One of my first blog posts last fall was about my peaceful place here.  We have scheduled birding outings at the refuge throughout spring :)  Headed to a local park this Saturday.  Another along the river, supposedly they have an Osprey nest.

Day 315

 Today I went on a short walk looking for buds. I didn’t find many, but there was a tree that had a few.

Day 314

Yesterday I watched these two clowns for the better part of my lunch hour.  “Hey, Baby, come here often?”  They were too funny, and I didn’t get half their antics on camera. 

More of the bumbling duo.

 

 

Day 313

This day I was going stir-crazy.  I had to get out of the house.  It was a beautiful day, we were cleaning with the windows wide open listening to Adele.  My woman-crush, LOL.  Her album came out at the right time for me to ease my pain.  Perfect music for cleaning :)  At any rate, I had to get out and about.  So I grabbed my camera and was off in search of old barns again.  My new favorite.  I came across a few, then I saw this gem.  An abandoned old house, looking all spooky and Halloween-ish, so I did a bit of post-processing to make it even more so.  There was a house next to it on another property and a house across the street, so I didn’t dally.

 And here are a couple barns I came across that day.  In April, my photo club is headed on a barn tour of about 10 barns close to the area.  I’m excited to say the least.

 

Day 312 

My sidekick and I went for a walk on this beautiful Saturday.  We went to one of our favorite parks on the river. 

Day 311

I drive by this church almost daily, it was one of the first churches in my little town.  Also did a little post-processing, but mostly just to frame and highlight.

 

There was Day 310 where I almost got the heart!

Day 306 was another barn

And another that I fancied that day….

All that were left were nothing to write home about, except this one that I am very proud of.  Day 303.  My sidekick is going to regionals for her History Day Project she did on the Beatles.  She will be judged this Saturday :)

So that is that for this installment, hope to have more for you this weekend, hoping for that Osprey nest and hope they are back!

Enjoy your week everyone, thanks for stopping by!

Here Come the Trumpeters….

It seems like forever since I’ve posted.  It has been a busy week.  I will post my Project 365 photos tomorrow, in a slideshow.  But for now, I’ll tell you about last Sunday.

We headed out in search of barns, which I have posted about.  On our way back, I suggested to my sidekick that we stop at the Swan Park to see what was going on.  I have posted about the Swan Park before.  It is a park close by where hundreds and hundreds of Trumpeter Swans have gathered in the winter for many years.  A woman who they called the “Swan Lady” started feeding the geese and swans on the Mississippi back in the 80’s. Back then, there were only a couple of pairs of Trumpeters. In recent years, they have had up to 1500 to 2,000 swans in the park. The Swan Lady and her husband feed the waterfowl corn every year. Sadly, the swan lady died last spring, but her husband has taken on the huge undertaking of feeding the swans. At any rate, I decided it was some place we must go. I got online and did a bit of research on Friday night about the place. Here is more about the Swan Lady. There are lots of photos and articles on the net on the Swan Lady.  However, because of the mild temperatures and lack of snow, it has been hit and miss as far as them being at the park.  The corn can still be had in the local farmers’ fields when there is no snow, and the river has been wide open and not frozen.  We had been there twice in the last few weeks, and only saw a handful of swans.  Lots of mallards and geese, but no swans.  We were there a couple of weeks ago on a Sunday and a lady there told us that there were about 1000 of them there the day before.  We have been bummed.

Since we recently had snow, I thought we’d give it another try.  This time our luck paid off.  It was not the 1000 or more that I was hoping for, but there were plenty.  They were so LOUD!  There were so many that I really couldn’t get a good shot in except to get these.  It was quite cold so we didn’t stay all that long. 

Here are some photos I took, hope you enjoy!

I took the first couple to give you an idea of how many there were up and down the river.

 

This Old Barn……

I love old barns.  I love new barns.  You just don’t see new ones as often as the old ones.  My favorite subject in school was history.  I still love history.  My sidekick has inherited my love for history and I am so proud of that.  I look at old barns and I see the history, charm, romance, character.  Everything.  I try to think of how the people who built that barn lived.  Needless to say, I love taking photos of barns, farms, silos…Unfortunately, they are a dying breed.  I stop on the side of the road and take them all the time.

Today we ventured out on a short road trip.  On a tip from a friend, he told me to head to Foley, Minnesota on a back country road.  He said he thought of me when he went that way last time, and told me that there were alot of barns and farms along that route.  First up, however, I had to stop and take a picture of “the red barn” in Zimmerman.  Everyone takes a photo of “the red barn” locally here.  Except me.  I haven’t yet.   It was on the way, so I finally stopped because I didn’t have a picture of “the red barn”.  I drove past it at first, and ran right into this one.  My favorite of the day, and just might be my favorite yet.

This barn was on private property and there was a car in the driveway, so i didn’t dally.  I turned back around and headed back to “the red barn”.  What everyone said is true, it was beautiful.

So off we went further north.  It was cloudy, trying to snow and quite windy.  It was about 27 degrees I think when we left.  When I turned down County Road 12 in Mille Lacs County, I immediately noticed what my friend said.  I had entered Rural Minnesota.  However, as we drove I became somewhat disappointed as most of the barns/farms were inhabited.  Meaning “no trespassing” signs.  I always get a little scared if I pull off to the side of the road and people are home.  I know all they have to do is yell at me, LOL, and they have.  But you never know.  There were a couple that I did pull over and “sneak” a photo of here and there.  But there were more that I did want to take, only didn’t because I was either too chicken or there was no place to pull over. 

 

I liked the photos I took today, but like I said, I wish there had been more.  But there is another day and another time.  We drove through the small town of Foley, I snapped a couple photos of the church in town and we headed to lunch. 

After lunch we we were thinking of what to do next and decided to hit the Swan Park in Monticello again.  The last two times that we had been there, all we had were mallards and geese.  Today there may have been about 500 Trumpeter Swans, and more geese and mallards.  Noisy little buggers, all of them!  At any rate I decided to wait to post my Trumpeter photos until next post and reserve this one for my barns. 

I thought I would leave you with more barn photos I have taken over the past year.  Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!