(10) Number 10 on my list was this post about a lance-tipped darner which I shot near the bass ponds in the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. This was my first pictures of a lance-tipped darner. However the reason that I choose this post was because even though I have shot a lot of dragonflies this was the first time that I ever got a picture of one that had just made a kill. I think that it is really interesting, because it kind of gives us a glimpse into their secret world. We see them all the time but they are so small that we do not usually realize that they are hunting and catching prey just like animals and birds do.
(9) Number 9 on the list are the great horned owls that kicked off my blog this spring. In April I heard off of the MOU list server about a great horned owls nest at Wood Lake Nature Center. Usually most people on the MOU list frown on giving the locations of nests, because they are afraid that the birds will get disturbed, however this nest was in plain sight in a very public area next to the visitors center. I spent every evening, except Tuesday night when I work, photographing the owls. I would usually arrive around 5pm, although sometimes I came right after work, and would photograph the chick in the nest. Usually shortly before sunset the mother would arrive to feed the chick, which would give me some nice shots. The end of this story was not so happy though. One Tuesday night the chick fell from the tree and it died a couple of days later. Hopefully the owls will return in 2008.
(8) Post 8 has a personal meaning to me. In October I took a trip up to Duluth to do some birding. It was a nice fall day so, after checking out Park Point for a while, I headed up to Hawk Ridge. Hawk Ridge in Duluth, Mn is a major fly way for raptors in the fall. Besides for raptor watching and counting, the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory also sponsors some other events during the fall. This includes raptor banding, which helps scientific and environmental groups collect data on raptors. To help pay for the activities they allow people to adopt and release the banded raptors. I adopted and released the pictured sharp-tailed hawk.
(7) At the beginning of August there was news on the MOU list server that there was a small family group of burrowing owls living in the south western part of the state. Michelle and I had photographed burrowing owls out in California a few years ago, so it was not a new species for us but we are both fascinated with owls so I was contemplating making the trip. Unfortunately the weather was not being very cooperative at the time, if weather in MN is ever cooperative, and I was not reading much more about it on the list server. I had pretty much given up on going out when the weather cleared and several reports came in that the owls were still present. So I jumped in the car and spent 9 hours driving but I was rewarded with some nice pics.
(6) At the end of October Jim Lind a birder up in Two Harbors, MN spotted a strange dove visiting feeders in his neighborhood. He identified the bird as an Inca Dove and reported it to the MOU. This was the first Inca Dove ever recorded as being seen in Minnesota. Many birders from all over the state, and several other states, traveled up to Two Harbors to see this bird who had lost its way. The bird ended up staying in Two Harbors for over a month. During that time I drove up on a Friday after work and stayed over night in Two Harbors. The next morning I was able to get some wonderful shots.
(5) Although snowy owls are not all that uncommon in Minnesota during the winter, there are usually at least a few reports each year, they are always a big deal for birders. In November there were reports of a snowy roosting at Tamerack Nature Center in White Bear Lake, MN, which is a suburb of the Twin Cities. It was an overcast Tuesday and since I had to work my second job that evening and the weather was not great I did not bring my camera because I did not plan on doing any shooting. Those plans changed. I ran home got my camera ran to Tamrack and got some nice pics and still made it to work on time.
(4) Michelle and I have always been big supporters of the Raptor Center. It has been the charity that we donate the most to for many years. I have always wanted to be more involved but there has always been problems with my schedule. Earlier this year I was able to make arrangements so that I could start to volunteer my time. It was cool getting close to the raptors but one Wednesday while volunteering I got to get up close and personal with a wild peregrine. Some one had spotted the peregrine flying around the university campus that the raptor center is located and so i went to see if I could get some pics. I found the bird enjoying a fresh kill.
(3) Since there have been a lot of rare birds found in neighboring states I have added my name to several different birding e-mail lists so that I can keep up with sightings in the area. One of the lists that I belong to is the IA-Bird list. This is for birding in Iowa and this is how I learned about a black-tailed gull visiting an area just north of Des Monies. Since the black-tailed gull has not been spotted very often in the continental US, about a half dozen times, I decided to make a trip down. I drove for about 4 hours and with great directions from Iowa birders found the bird right away and got some great pics. It was well worth the trip.
(2) In 2007 I received the best birthday gift that I have ever received in my life. Since it was my birthday Michelle indulged me and we made a trip up to Crex Meadows to go birding. I had dragged Michelle with me up to Crex several times over the summer and even though Michelle enjoys birds and nature she is not nearly as fanatical about it as I have become. This trip became very special though when we found an injured bald eagle. When we were unable to find any one that was available to help the eagle we took matters into our own hands and with materials that we purchased at a local store we rescued the eagle and took him to the raptor center to receive medical attention.
(1) The number one post of the year, surprisingly, does not have a picture associated with it. However if you think about it this one should not be a surprise. On April 22, 2007, Earth Day, I opened this blog with a welcome to anyone who shares my love of the environment, wildlife, and birding. I hope that everyone who has come to the blog has enjoyed it and maybe even learned a little bit. I know that I have learned a lot while putting it together to share with you. I will continue to try and bring you posts that are interesting, informative and some times humorous with the best pictures that an amateur nature photographer, like myself, can take. I hope that everyone has a Happy New Year and comes back to visit in 2008.