Friday, August 31, 2007

A fresh birding location.

Since most of the birding locations that I have been visiting lately have been relatively consistent with the type of birds and wildlife viewing I decided to try a new location on Thursday evening. I had read about some people birding at the Miesville Ravine on the MOU list server and since it was fairly close to home I thought that I would check it out. Unfortunately since we have received a lot of rain lately the mosquitoes have been vicous, and on this evening I used up the last of my bug spray. But I did get a few pics before the mosquitoes chased me away.

I found this scruffy american redstart at the start of the trail that followed the creek.There where a couple of white-breasted nuthatch in the trees over by the pavilion.

They were doing a good job of finding bugs in the trees but I was kind of wishing that they would eat some of the mosquitoes that where trying to eat me.

I also found a monarch out by the parking lot. Since I had blood taken earlier in the day for a doctors exam I decided I did not want to give up more to the blood suckers so I decided to leave and come back again later when I had more bug spray.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sunny Wednesday at the Bass Ponds

Yesterday the weather was nice so I decided to take a trip to the Bass Ponds in the Minnesota Valley NWR. Things in the Minnesota Valley have not really picked up much with the fall migration yet.

The typical great blue heron were still aroundI also saw a female white-faced meadowhawk.And this butterfly which I have not been able to ID with my limited butterfly knowledge.

Here is a different view.

If there are any butterfly enthusiasts who read the site I would greatly appreciate any help with the ID.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Monday visit to Wood Lake Nature Center

Monday the weather was overcast but I decided to go out any way. The week before was pretty much a wash out, due to weather, so I did not want to waste an evening of birding if it was not raining. Since the area was still pretty wet from all of the rain I decided to go to Wood Lake Nature Center since they have a well kept trail system. The clouds blocked out most of the sun making it difficult to get any pics but I did manage a few.
The only bird pics that I took were of wood ducks. These have only recently started migrating back through the area.
There were several females and only 1 male that I saw. The males look quite boring compared to how they look in breeding plumage. I did not recognize that he was a male at first but then I saw his face, the eye is a dead give away.
I did see some other wildlife like this pair of turtles.

And there was quite a bit of insect life around besides mosquitoes, like this monarch butterfly.I saw a few white-faced meadowhawk.And I saw this big creepy wolf spider running down the boardwalk. There is not a lot of detail in the pic because it was dark and I was shooting with my long lens instead of my macro.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Migration begins at Crex Meadows

The forecast for Sunday was a good one so I decided I would make a trip back up to Crex Meadows. Since my digital camera was in for repair and I have been shooting with my wife's Canon XTI I decided not to drag her around with me this time. Unfortunately the weather at Crex, which is about 1 hour north of the Twin Cities, was not as nice as it was back home. The skies where mostly cloudy with occasional peaks of sun. Since I was already there I decided to stay for a while and make the best of it. Crex is a great place to bird especially in the spring and fall during migration. It is not quite fall but it appears that the migration is starting back. One of the things that we have not seen much of on our past couple of trips to Crex has been raptors. There was a couple active Osprey nests but the chicks have fledged and the nests are now empty. Other then that there have only been the occasional northern harrier or eagle like the injured one that we rescued 2 weeks earlier. On this trip though there were plenty of raptors. I saw another immature eagle, about 4 different harriers, and quite a few red-tailed hawks.Another sign that the fall migration has begun is the dozen or so pied grebes that I spotted.
Pied grebes usually seem to be one of the first waterfowl to migrate through in the spring and one of the first to return in the fall. Another sign that fall is right around the corner is the number of sandhill cranes on the refuge. There is a sandhill population that is present through the summer but their numbers seem to have been bolstered by an influx of migrating birds. There looked to be over 100 sandhills on the refuge at this point.There were still normal summer residents around, like the trumpeter swans who have raised all of their cygnets.

Eastern kingbirds are still hanging around.So are kingfisher. I was disappointed that I finally got a kingfisher to hold still long enough for me to get a descent shot and then I can't get any light. AARGH.

There have been a lot of reports on the list servers about warblers migrating back through so I will have to check some of the local haunts to see if I can get some pics.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Birding at Dodge Nature Center

Since this is primarily a birding blog I did take some bird pics on my trip to Dodge Nature Center this past Saturday.

There where quite a few american goldfinch feasting on seeds in the fields right next to the main office.Up by the farm about a dozen field sparrow where hanging around.At the small Crossroads Pond I found a solitary sandpiper.

There where a couple of green heron catching rays out by the Prairie Pond. I also saw mallards, great egret and wood duck on the Prairie Pond.
I saw a single ruby-throated hummer on a small trail by the Sugar House.There were 4 downy woodpeckers hunting bugs on a dying tree near the main office.On the same tree I also photographed this bird. I believe that it is a willow flycatcher but I am still kind of new to birding and I had a hard time identifying this one.Here is another angle of the bird. If anyone thinks that I have identified it wrong please let me know. It is better to find out that you made a mistake and learn from it then it is to remain in ignorance.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Going buggy at Dodge Nature Center

Saturday the weather was sunny and beautiful. I had a dinner appointment later in the afternoon so I decided to do some birding close to home. So I took a trip to Dodge Nature Center in West St Paul, MN. I have not been to Dodge since I was a kid and it is really is a shame. The property has a diverse collection of ecosystems which includes grassland, wetland, and deciduous forest. They have a few ponds, a working farm, and mews for educational raptors. I really enjoyed the farm pond trail which is a boardwalk that takes you through the cattails and over the pond, with several stopping areas with sitting benches. During my trip I saw a few different birds, I will post those pictures in a later post, as well as reptiles and small mammals. There were also a lot of insects, I took a few pictures of some of the more interesting ones which I found.

There were quite a few cabbage white butterfly flying about near all of the flower gardens.

It is easy to distinguish between male and female in the cabbage white by counting the number of spots. Males have 1 spot, like the first one pictured, and females have 2 spots, like the one right above.

I found this pink-spotted lady beetle on a rock in the farm pond next to the boardwalk. I really like the contrast in color between her and the green algae around her. This would have been a better shot if I had my macro lens, which was in the car, instead I had to stand a ways back to get my 100-400mm lens to focus on such a tiny subject.

This female white-faced meadowhawk was flying around the farm pond.I was not quite sure that she was a white faced until she turned around.
Later on I found a white-faced meadowhawk male out in the fields. It is pretty easy to tell the difference between male and female by the color.There was quite a healthy population of grasshoppers. There were also plenty of mosquitoes but I am usually too busy swatting them to take their picture.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Strange bird at Carlos Avery

After 6 days of rain the sun finally came out for an extended period on Friday. Since it has been a while since I have birded Carlos Avery I decided to take a trip north after I got off of work. While driving through the park I spotted an unusual bird crossing the road in front of me. I got out of the car to get a closer look and a picture.The picture did not turn out that well because the bird was already in the woods by the time I got out of the car but from the picture I identified the bird as a Chukar. This confused me because from what I read Chukar where Eurasian game birds that were introduced to the US and had established populations in dry western states. Since I could not find any listing of these birds in Minnesota I turned to the Minnesota Ornithologists' Union to help me with the mystery. The overwhelming response that I received was that this was probably a captive bird that had escaped or been released.

Other species that I saw on my trip where a green heron

a pied grebe

And a northern harrier

It was great to get out in the sun and do some birding.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Fort Snelling feeders - hummer

Thursday the rain came again so I did not get to do any birding. This weekend things are supposed to change though and it is supposed to be nice and sunny. It is a good thing because I am running out of pictures that I took last Friday at the feeders at the Fort Snelling Visitors Center. Today's feature is the ruby-throated hummingbird.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Overcast vistit to Wood Lake

Yesterday the rain stopped for a bit. The sky was still over cast and the light was not very good for shooting but I wanted to get out any way. So after work I went to Wood Lake Nature Center. All of the rain that we have received lately had flooded most of the low lying areas of the park so that it reminded me of a lot of the places that I have birded in south Florida. With very little light it was hard to ID birds let alone take pictures. I did find a green heron at a secluded pool but with the over growth blocking out what little light there was the pictures just did not turn out. Later I did find a great blue heron and got a couple of pics through the reeds. The paths were filled with little toads who had come to the high ground fleeing all the water that had flooded their normal habitat.A few monarch where floating around checking out the flowers. The board walk that crosses the water was filled with barn swallows perching on the railing cables.Most the time they would fly away as you approached but a few sat there and let me get close.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fort Snelling feeders - nuthatch

Today's featured bird, from my photo session at the Fort Snelling Visitors Center from last Friday, is the white-breasted nuthatch.