Tag Archives: Ducks

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

A funny thing happened…..

On the way to find my photo the other day for my Project 365 project.

One day last week, I took a walk at another local park on my lunch hour.   The weather was cold, windy and drizzly.  Not a very good day for outdoor photography.  But I persevered.   I grabbed my walking shoes and was on my way.  I was in search of a park bench.  I don’t know why I like taking pictures of benches.  I will post more on my benches, complete with pictures of course, at a later date.  My benches deserve a post of their own.

I also love taking photos of Mallards.  They are very common, almost a nuisance to some people around here.  But I think they are pretty.  And they are fun to watch, playing in the water.  They are also not as skittish as a lot of birds and waterfowl.   They are a great “starter” subject for photography.

As I was walking, taking pictures of benches, I came across a pond.   There was a lone seagull standing on something in the middle of the pond, calling at his friends flying above him.  I couldn’t figure out what he was standing on, and at one point thought he was stuck because he was standing there for so long.  Then I heard the mallards from the other side of the pond.  I walked down against the biting wind and watched as several groups were making their way toward me, near the shore.  Lots of males, a few females.  A couple got spooked and flew away.

I have to say sometimes I get a little carried away in search of “the shot”.  I’m sure other photographers out there know exactly what I’m talking about.  I have pulled over on the side of the road so many times I can’t count, just to take a picture of something.   My daughter  thinks I’m crazy.  “What are we pulling over for?” and my response is most likely, “I want to take a picture”.   This is almost always followed by a heavy sigh and rolled eyes.  “It’s corn, Mom.  You’re going to take a picture of corn, really?”  “Why yes, yes, I am”.  I am quite sure it is a bit embarrassing for a 13-year-old, but after a few years of this, she has actually gotten used to it.  I think.

This particular day I wanted to get “the shot” of a mallard.   He was posing for me, washing himself, diving for food and just playing around, showing off for the ladies.  As I moved toward the edge of the pond, I noticed a mound of mud above the water’s edge.  Perfect for standing on to get “the shot”.   As I put my front foot on it, I immediately knew it was a bad decision.  My life has been full of them recently, what’s one more?  My two-month-old $50 Nike walking shoe sunk into the water.  As I pulled it out, my back foot started sinking as well.  I made a bee line for more stable ground, and as I did, I swear the mallard was laughing at me.  I turned around to catch a couple more photos of him playing (and chuckling) as I made my way back.

I may get carried away, but then sometimes it is worth it.

My Peaceful Place

A funny thing happened on the way to find my Project 365 photo today.  However, the story will have to wait for another post, as I don’t think I can continue blogging until I tell
the story of how most of this all came about.

In early spring of this year, I was introduced to the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge by a friend. I had just begun to be interested in nature photography.  I would go to his house and take pictures of the birds at his feeder and started exploring the woods and pond out in his back yard.  Then he told me about the Wildlife Drive on the refuge. 20 years living in this county and I had never been to it.  30,000+ acres of nature and wildlife right under my nose.  I drove past it hundreds, if not thousands of times.  This same friend is the one who urged me months ago to write a nature/photography blog.  Things happen for a reason, but it’s kinda funny how some things work out.

The Wildlife Drive is approximately 7.5 miles of dirt road winding through wetlands, prairie, and woodlands on a small parcel of land on the refuge.  It opens in April and closes at the end of October.  They close the drive in winter so the eagles can build their nests, mate, and lay their eggs in peace and quiet.  The rest of the refuge is open all year round, with areas restricted to the DNR.  They also have a couple of hiking trails that I am hoping to make use of this fall and winter.

Fall on the refuge

The first time my 13 year old daughter and I went on the drive was the first day it opened in April.  The weather was crappy, cold, and wet.  Eagles nests, muskrat huts, Trumpeter Swans, Canada Geese, spring was arriving on the refuge.  We were hooked. There are two eagles’ nests
on the drive.  I am told 13 on the entire refuge.   We watched the eagles soar and watched the female feeding her young through the telescope. Ever since then, we have been on the drive, weather permitting, at least once a week (and sometimes twice).  We
went on the Migratory Bird Tour and walked the Blue Hill Trail.  We watched the fledglings grow and continue to watch them now.

Eagles watching over the eaglets

That is when we proclaimed ourselves  “bird dorks”. I had never heard of a Sandhill Crane or a Double-crested Cormorant.  We learned all about them on the Wildlife Drive.  Beavers, otters and muskrats.  We now know the difference between them.  You laugh, but it is hard to tell them apart when they are swimming in the water.  American Coots and Hooded Morgansers.  What are they?  Well, they are waterfowl.   I actually paid for and downloaded the Audubon Bird/Mammal Guide onto my iPhone. I borrowed some binoculars from people at work.  I started using my old 300mm lens and I came
to find out that it IS old.  I was not great, and didn’t think I was all that good. But it was practice.  I am still practicing.  Once in a while I get a great shot.  Again, that is the nice
thing about digital.  The DELETE button.

Double-crested Cormorant

When all the babies were born, we had so much fun watching the families.  The Trumpeter babies were born in June.  They were a bunch of fuzzy gray ducklings.  We watched them grow into the beautiful  swans they are today.   One day we watched an eagle soar above us, coming within 10 feet of my lens.  Of course I had the wrong lens on the camera at the time and couldn’t get the shot.  However, it was the moment that
counted.  It took our breath away.  A friend of Baylee’s was with us and said, “What’s all the excitement?  It’s just a bird”.  And Baylee said, “do you see an Eagle soaring 10 feet from your head every day? I don’ t think so.”  The rest of the “outside world” just doesn’t understand.

One of my favorite moments was about a month ago. We were on the drive and I saw an unfamiliar duck-like bird.  I asked Baylee what she thought it was.  She said “I think that’s a Pied-bellied Grebe”.  I turned to her with a very perplexed look on my face and said, “You’re scaring me.”  LOL.  I mean, a Pied-bellied Grebe?  Had I even heard of that?  Sure enough, she looked in the guide and that is exactly what it was.   She is a bird dork.  But don’t tell anyone.  “It’s just not cool, Mom”.

Pied Bellied Grebe

I discovered the sunsets on the refuge are beautiful.  I discovered I love to go there by myself.  I discovered I could sit for hours watching the Trumpeter Swans or even the Canada Geese, and taking in the serenity of nature.  I discovered my peaceful place.

And I discovered myself again.