Category Archives: Project 365

The Eagle’s Nest

Not exaggerating, I pretty much see an eagle almost every day. If not, then every other day.  It is still breathtaking.  It is still beautiful.  Every day.  My sidekick and I are self-proclaimed bird nerds.  The Bald Eagle is my favorite of all.  Hers, the Sandhill Crane.

I have taken quite a few photos of eagles in the last few years.  Not all perfect, but all were real.  At the local wildlife refuge with the raptor center booth, as well as in the wild.  We have taken a trip down to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota and viewed beautiful eagles, both at the center and in the wild, including our first Golden Eagle. I have posted several of these photos before and had my own posts on the Eagle Center and the refuge, but thought them appropriate for this post.

Eagles in Red Wing
Eagles in Red Wing
Juvenile Bald Eagle flying over the refuge
Angel, a Bald Eagle at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota
Eagle’s nest on the refuge drive
Bald Eagles in Red Wing, Minnesota
Bald Eagle at the refuge
Sunset with my eagle friends on the refuge
Looking over the Mississippi for lunch. This was a couple of years ago in the part of the river near the nest. This may be one of “the” eagles :)
One-eyed Bald Eagle at a Raptor Center booth at the refuge.
Bald Eagle at the Raptor Center booth at the refuge
Columbia, a Bald Eagle at the National Eagle Center
Our first (and only) Golden Eagle at the National Eagle Center
Looking for lunch over the river
Again, at the refuge. I think this is one of my first pictures on the refuge.


We fell in love with the Decorah eagles online just like everyone else.  We have watched them build their families (tensing up every time those little ones get to the edge just about falling when mom nudges them back in) and the eaglets leave their nests every year, and were heartbroken when they built a new nest last year and we couldn’t watch them.  I even got my mom addicted to watching them on her laptop, before she passed away. We are so excited and hopeful that we will be able to watch the new nest this year.

We also watched our own drama unfold right here in Minnesota when the little eaglet, Harmon, got his leg stuck in his nest and the Raptor Center and Minnesota DNR intervened to help him out.  When he was returned to the nest, we were so sad hearing him crying for his mom at night to come back and take care of him. We were glued to the computer, and just when it seemed like mom was never going to return, we again cried. Tears of joy this time, as mom returned to take care of little Harmon and continued to watch him grow and leave the nest. Technology, eh?

I do feel very fortunate that I live in an area where Bald Eagles are pretty common.  My little town butts up against the Mississippi, and the eagles take advantage. It is prime real estate for them as a nesting spot and food source.  But just because they are common, doesn’t mean I take them for granted.

I first saw the eagle’s nest a couple of years ago in the winter of 2011.  Purely by accident, I must say.  Driving around with my sidekick and her friend, I made a wrong turn and ended up at the end of a dead end along the river in a residential neighborhood.  Yes, I’ve lived in this town for 20 years.  Yes, I’m a woman driver.  Straight ahead was a huge eagle’s nest.  I was proud of my sidekick, who identified it right away.  She is a bird nerd, but only her close friends know it.  At 15, it’s just not cool, Mom.  We sat and wondered if it was active, how long it had been there, was it abandoned?  It sat on private property and we could only view it from the car.  After that day, I would check in from time to time, not very often and not ever seeing an eagle to go along with the nest.

Then last summer, the property owner donated a few acres to the city.  The city decided to turn the land into a nature preserve.  I remember thinking in the back of my head “I wonder if that is the area where the eagle’s nest is?”

After so much hype in our little town with a groundbreaking ceremony and the former property owners present, the nature preserve opened, and Bailey Point Nature Preserve was born. Those of you who know my sidekick will find that fitting, although she will say it is spelled wrong :) We were at the park the second night it  opened at the end of August..  Only because we had previous plans the first night (insert winky face here).

A lot of the area is inaccessible.  Just because it is the river and several islands.  Across one of the thru-ways is a WMA.  On the opposite side of the park is a residential neighborhood.  We pulled into the small parking lot (which was basically the dead end I previously mentioned) and had a hard time finding the eagle’s nest.  Of course, it was the end of summer and all the trees were full of green leaves and there was a lot of tall grass.  It had been a while and we really couldn’t remember where we had seen it.  The park consists of a few intertwining walking trails.  Period.  No play area.  No picnic tables.  No BBQ’s. Perfect.

Since it was summer, the bugs were also out.  We headed down the first walking trail and rounded the bend and saw the eagles nest just to the left in a tree.  No eagles, but it was summer and they don’t always “hang at home” once the kids leave the nest  :)  We followed a couple of trails, enjoyed the nest, other birds, the river and nature in general.   We were excited to go back.  I was looking forward to frequenting this park.

Someone left this behind. Wonder who it was?
Buzzing on wildflowers
“The” Eagle’s Nest
Pretty sun through the trees
Wildflowers on the river
Path at Bailey Point Park Reserve





Two days later, we were back and saw a juvenile eagle sitting near the nest.  A previous fledgling, perhaps?  I didn’t even know if the nest was active.

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Juvenile Bald Eagle

 After this visit and a few more photos, I wrote a review of the park that was published in the local paper, including the juvenile eagle photo.  I was hoping I could find that online but I can’t.  Now I wish I would’ve taken a photo.  After that, I returned here and there.  Fall turned out to be the busiest we have had in a long time with my portrait photography and her dance team, and we just couldn’t find the time to get back.

With the dance team season over, and not a lot of people wanting to get family photos in -30 below weather, we have now again hit a slow time.  A few weeks ago I pulled into the park’s parking lot after work.  It was late in the day, but I did grab this cell phone pic of the sunset.

Sunset at Bailey Point
Sunset at Bailey Point

I saw one lone eagle sitting in a branch along side the nest.  Wondering where it’s mate was?  Eagles mate for life, as a lot of wildlife do.  Humans should take note of wildlife habits.  Although the female Black Widow spider kills it’s mate so maybe that’s not the best advice.

I returned a few days later on my lunch break and was disappointed the trails were not set up for walking.  After all the snow we have gotten, I would’ve needed snowshoes.  So I sat in the parking lot, listening and watching the birds, and took photographs of the usual winter suspects.  Black-Capped Chickadees, Woodpeckers, Nuthatches and Blue Jays, with the occasional sound of a Northern Cardinal off in the distance.  No sign of the eagle.

Same thing a couple of days later, I again went after work, and again one lone eagle sat in the tree before sunset.  I started to think maybe the mate wouldn’t return.  Had it died?  I know that part of the river is still frozen. Unusually so, as it has been open there in the winter for several years. But it has not been this bitterly cold in a very long time.  I had heard that there were eagles that had to go far down river for open water and food.

A couple of weeks ago I pulled in and was delighted to find that the trails had been groomed for walking!  It was a balmy 3 degrees above and I said to myself, “Why not?”  I grabbed my outdoor gear and camera and went for a walk.  No eagles that day, but snow and scenery along the river.

Day 50
Downy Woodpecker
Eagle’s nest off in the distance
Sad, but I thought a beautiful place right on the river for a resting place?
Frozen river on this day.
A bench overlooking the river. Just a bench :)
Red Bellied Woodpecker


Last week, it was an awesome 18 degrees and I FINALLY saw two eagles.  One was on a branch, and the other was sitting in the nest.  I was thrilled!  For a minute, I wondered if there were eggs, as mid to late February is when they should start mating and laying eggs.  But then she flew out of the nest for a bit and came back with some sticks.  Tidying up the homestead, getting ready?  Then they both flew off talking to each other to find some lunch, I’m sure.  I realized then there were no eggs yet, as they would never have left them unattended.

Day 44 IMG_0915 IMG_0938

While my camera was trying to zoom in and get a flight shot of one of them, out of my peripheral vision I saw movement and heard scrambling.  I had just taken a photo of deer tracks on the trail shortly before I saw the eagles.  Low and behold there were two deer running across the trail in front of me.  Seriously?!  And my camera was set on flying eagles, not frolicking deer.  And I call myself a photographer?  LOL.  They stopped for a second and looked at me through the woods and went running off.

My town’s water tower from the edge of the park. Nice view!


On my way back to the car, I ran into a woman walking her dog and we exchanged the normal pleasantries.  I told her that I had seen a couple of deer and that there had been two eagles in the tree.  She told me that was great, that she hadn’t seen both lately because they must be going further down for food sources since the river was frozen.  I asked if she knew if it was an active nest and she said yes, it’s been active for the last 3 or 4 years :)

I was excited, but yet my mind started wandering to the “I wonder’s”. I wonder if the eagles flew off because they were afraid of me?  I wonder if the presence of people in the park will affect their ability to raise young, or even lay eggs?  If she does, I wonder if she will stay on the nest like she is supposed to, or fly off at the first sign of people?  Then I remembered the Decorah eagles had their nest on a farm.  There were several people and other animals on the farm.

The nest is at a great location, the eagles have a great resource in the river and on the land with rodents.  I can’t measure distance to save my soul, but it is a ways off of the walking trail.  In plain sight, but off.  I just hope stupid little boys won’t get curious and try climbing the tree (no offense to the stupid little boys or the ones who used to be ;)) Maybe a sign is in order.  STAY ON THE TRAIL or some such.  Hmmm…wheels are turning on that one.  Wait…one saved raptor at a time (inside joke which I will share with you all some day)!

At any rate, I have been back a couple of times since then.  Once over the weekend with my sidekick who had an assignment to finish for her photography class.  I can’t believe she brought home a Nikon!  Geesh, some people!  (again, friendly banter to the Nikon users, I am a Canon gal myself).

A couple of Trumpeters on the river. Which is the same scene, by the way, from the frozen river above. 12 days difference.
My sidekick. Obviously, dance is not too far away from her mind. Ever.


And then again today, where I again saw both eagles in the park.  Along with several Woodpeckers, a few Trumpeter Swans, Blue Jays galore, Black-Capped Chickadees, and a couple of Golden Eyes on the river.  The Cardinal is heard, but not seen, as usual.  My nemesis bird.  That, and the elusive Pileated Woodpecker.

Another of the nest and one eagle. The other eagle was at the end of the path.
Again, same view, same swans. Two days later at 39 degrees. What a difference a few days means.


So I finally blogged about the eagles.  To get my mind off of another bird for a while.

Hope you enjoy my photos, I am looking forward to sharing more eagle photos with you!

Have a great week and enjoy the warmup. For now!


The Frozen North

It has been a long and cold January.  One of the coldest winters for us ever, and one for the record books.  The Governor closed schools on at the beginning of January for the first time since 1998, because of the cold.  The temperature was -28 below with a wind chill of -44 below when I woke up that morning.  Individual school districts closed the next day on their own, the temps not being much better.  Last week, districts were once again closed on Thursday.  This week, yesterday and today, which interfered with my sidekick’s final exams of the semester.  Temps have been in the upper teens below zero with wind chills in the 20’s and 30’s below.

This almost NEVER happens.  As a kid, I remember having snow days.  But I NEVER remember missing school because of the cold.  Yes, we get way below zero with an average of 24-25 below zero temps each winter.  You can see the statistics here in this article.  The article names the Twin Cities the coldest city/cities in the U.S.  I live about 30 miles NW of the Twin Cities.  About average, the temps are 5-10 degrees colder than what the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport reads.  And when it has warmed up the 1 or 2 days, it has snowed.  We have a lot of snow already this year.  It’s not even the snowiest month yet.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like winter.  I love the snow.  I like it more when it hovers between 20 and 30 ABOVE 0.  I go for winter photo walks all the time. We’ve hiked in 10 degree weather. We’ve bundled up and gone to the refuge Winterfest two years in a row, last year it was 5 above.  I drove for three years without heat in my Blazer.  I got my beautiful Snowy Owl pick in frigid temps.  I’m not a wimp by any means.  That being said, it’s cold.  Damn cold.  Except for having to go to work and to the gym, and the “necessary” grocery store runs and dance invitationals, we haven’t been out much.  And we’ve been drinking a lot of hot chocolate!

Cabin fever made me venture out beyond work today.  Just for a bit on my lunch hour.  It was a balmy -9 below with -22 below wind chill.  I drove around my town  (I will be doing a blog about my town all on its own soon) getting pics of this and that in the cold.  A few Golden Eyes and swans down by the river, but took off when they saw me approaching.  Even a bunch of robins puffed up in a tree.  Too far away to photograph.

But I got a few things, some I didn’t have to get out of my car for.  I have also added some of the photos that I have taken over the past couple weeks for my Project 365, mixed in with my Sunday Snippets that I have not posted.

Looking at 22 degrees ABOVE zero tomorrow!  I say we put the top down on the convertible!


The river in the bitter cold
The river in the bitter cold


Frigid Sunset
Frigid Sunset
Forever in peace may you wave
Forever in peace may you wave
Sunset on the water tower at just the right time.
Sunset on the water tower at just the right time.
Hi beautiful
Hi beautiful
Handke Pit getting ready for Hockey Day Minnesota
Handke Pit getting ready for Hockey Day Minnesota
My baby girl, Chloe.
My baby girl, Chloe.
This is what bottled water looks like when you leave it in the car and it's below zero.
This is what bottled water looks like when you leave it in the car and it’s below zero.
Apples to Apples
Apples to Apples
I wanted the moon, I got the snowkmobiler on the lake.
I wanted the moon, I got the snowkmobiler on the lake.
Frozen window, it was 12 below and 26 below wind chill.
Frozen window, it was 12 below and 26 below wind chill.
She's discovered a knitting loom, better than that dang phone
She’s discovered a knitting loom, better than that dang phone
Needs the snow to be cleared off the lake
Needs the snow to be cleared off the lake
My tracks in the snow
My tracks in the snow
Snow path
Snow path

IMG_9547 IMG_9539 Day 23

Frozen cat tail.
Frozen cat tail.
A snowy walk when the weather was warmer
A snowy walk when the weather was warmer
Out of place
Out of place
3rd Place Championships this day.
3rd Place Championships this day.
Perfect Timing
Perfect Timing
2nd place, not too shabby
2nd place, not too shabby
JV Jazz 2nd place in the JV Championship.
JV Jazz 2nd place in the JV Championship.


Sunday Snippets

On Monday!  LOL.  I wanted to post this yesterday, but time just got away from me!

Most days, I take a lot of pictures and pick from those for my daily Project 365 photo. Sometimes I have really good days and will have a lot of good ones, so it is a struggle to pick just one. During my last Project 365, I had a feature on my blog I called Monday Modge Podge. This is where I featured my photos that are not my Project 365. I thought this time I would use a different term and call it the “Sunday Snippets”. Sundays are a less busy day for me than Mondays, so Sundays work out better for me to pull this feature together.

Enjoy :)


Some trumpeters in the middle of a water vapor on the Mississippi River
Tracks on the river bank. Any ideas as to what they are?
My fave kids, my great nephews and my sidekick :)
Trumpeters huddling together in the frigid cold last week on the Mississippi.
Snow and Cold
The frozen Mississippi last week. Today it is all open again.
My beautiful Chloe girl.
Hot cocoa. Always good on frigid days!
Looking for a Snowy, ran out of time and snapped this. I have a fall photo of the same farm.
Old timer….
Saturday was conference championship day for my sidekick. 3rd place, not too shabby!
Finally, another Snowy. Two Snowy’s in a week. Adrenaline was pumping!


Project 365 Week 1

I figured I would work on a weekly basis, as far as posting my Project 365 photos.  I try to post to my FB page daily, but we know how that goes.  And Twitter and Instagram?  I’m lucky those will be posted monthly, LOL.  Just never have time for all this social media :)  I have now appointed my sidekick as my Social Media Assistant.  The pay sucks, but the hours are great and there isn’t anything a teenage girl does better than social media, am I correct?  HA, oops, sorry sunshine, I guess there is Dance, and the fact that you are an honor roll student ;)

Anyhoo, I have already posted Day 1, but for good measure, here it is again.



Day 1
Day 1. Sunset at Henry’s Woods Park. On my way home from following a snowy owl around for about 90 minutes. Too far away to get a shot, but enjoyed seeing one for the first time anyway.
Day 2. Day 2 of 365. Ventured down to the river today in the bitter cold, it was about -11 below.
Day 3. The first anniversary of my mother’s death. This one was a no-brainer, we do miss her so much.
Day 4. Searching for something…I found this. A barn in the area that I haven’t photographed yet. In processing, I changed this to an old fashioned finish, Albumen, widely used from 1855-1890, this inexpensive photographic method produced paper-based photos. Negatives were captured on glass, and the print was then created on paper that used albumen from egg whites to bind the light-sensitive chemicals to the paper.
Day 5. I took this right before I rounded the bend and found the Snowy Owl.
Day 6. I didn’t think I was going to go out and about on this frigid day. I guess I don’t know myself very well. This is what -20 below with -44 below wind chill looks like on the Mississippi River. Noon today. With my iPhone.
Day 7. A far cry from the Snowy Owl I photographed on Sunday, but my mama always used to say, “It takes all kinds to make the world go ’round.” Pigeons gotta live too :)
Day 8. A different perspective on an old favorite
Day 9. This came about by accident. I didn’t like the others I took, and my camera wasn’t focusing. This was a practice shot. I do love my Equinox :)

Project 365 Day 1

A little about Project 365:  Project 365 came about by a man who decided to take a photo a day for 365 days. His popularity soared and since then others have followed suit.  I read his story a couple of years ago.  Right now I’m too lazy to look it up again to give details. But I will again, eventually!  There are a lot of people who put their photos into books, do blogs, post to Flickr, etc. I did my first Project 365 from April 2011 to April 2012.  I used my older Canon Rebel DSLR.  I learned a lot about my camera in that year, and learned that I can take a good shot when the stars are aligned.  I now have a Canon T2i DSLR and primarily use this camera with an occasional iPhone shot thrown in.

The great thing about Project 365 is there are no rules. Just take a photo a day for 365 days. That’s it. Most people do that with their phones, and don’t even realize it. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. It can be a photo of the weather, your pet, your big toe for that matter. Anything. Just one photo. I like nature, birds, other wildlife, etc. so mine tend to veer toward that.  But believe me, sometimes it gets to be a bit much. A long day at work, teenager activities, and it’s 10:00 at night and I’m looking for a photo.  You may just see my big toe :)

During my last project, I posted my photo pretty much daily to my FB page From Moments to Memories. I am very busy so I don’t know if I will be able to post daily; every few days or weekly will probably be more like it. I will also post to my photo blog here. I blog about my nature/photo walks and experiences throughout the week and will feature photo stories as well.  So if you’d care to follow, be my guest.

My first photo was taken during sunset tonight on our way home from Snowy Owl searching today.  My sidekick and I set out to see one of the 80 or so sightings in Minnesota this season.  We found one!  And had so much fun following it around from afar in my vehicle, weather was -10 below, with -15 below windchill.  It was too far away for any good photography.  I just don’t have the “heavy” equipment of the professionals.  Still, it was a lifer for both of us and it was exciting.

Time got away from us and I was determined to get a good pic for day 1.  I have passed this place so many times and never stopped.  They recently made it a park and I can’t wait to explore it.

Sunset at Henry's Woods Park
Sunset at Henry’s Woods Park

Hope you enjoy what you see, and if you do, let me know!


Happy New Year from bitterly cold Minnesota!  Along with the temperature being -15 below, the windchill is also -15 below, so the “feels like” weather is -30 below zero.  Yikes!  FROZEN was the perfect movie for us to see earlier this evening!  Which was cute, by the way :)

A bit nippy
A bit nippy

Right now I’m planning my strategy for Snowy Owl hunting tomorrow.  There have been over 80 sightings in Minnesota this winter and I am hoping to get lucky.  My sidekick and I will head out with hot chocolate and extra blankets tomorrow morning for the first day of my Project 365.

Wish us luck!


Happy New Year

Happy New Year!  I’m baack……………….. !  Unfortunately, I went away for a while :(  Lots of struggles and it has been one hell of a year to say the least.  I have probably lost a lot of followers, and will have to gain a lot back.

I am going to be starting a new Project 365 on New Year’s Day to kick myself in the a** so to speak.  You are welcome to follow me.  I am not going to be posting every day but would like to post every week I hope.

Hope all of you have had a great 2013 and good luck to you in the coming new year!