Tuesday, April 22, 2008

An Earth Day and Anniversary Celebration

Today is Earth Day 2008. It is a day for people who care about the environment to celebrate the natural world. It is also a day that marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement. Earth day began back in 1970 and was a way to get attention for environmental issues. Earth Day has a special meaning for me because it was one year ago today that I began this blog with this post.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Welcome to my new Ecobirder Blog
In honor of Earth Day 2007 I have started my first blog. The purpose of this blog will be to share my love of the environment, wildlife, and birding with others who share these interests.

It has been my honor to share my thoughts, photos, love of the environment, and my blog with you over the past year. To celebrate this years Earth Day and my 1 year anniversary I have gone back through my pics of the last year and put together some of what I think were the best pics of my first year.
This first pic was taken at Como Park back in September of 2007. This was a black-swallowtail that my friend and coworker Mary had raised. Mary grows parsley plants which are a favorite species of the black-swallowtail larva. In the early summer Mary collected the caterpillars and raised them inside where they were safe from predators, pesticides and other dangers. When the black-swallowtails completed their metamorphosis then Mary would release the newly hatched butterflies. Mary was gracious enough to allow me to release a couple including this one that I released at the butterfly garden at Como Park.
This tiger swallowtail pic was taken back in August at the Bass Ponds. I found a beautiful spot at the Bass Ponds last year that was like a small garden of native plants and wild flowers. This attracted a lot of dragonflies, goldfinch, and butterflies.
This Halloween pennant dragonfly was photographed in July at Fort Snelling State Park. Originally I was not photographing butterflies and dragonflies but while I was out birding they peaked my interest and became a big part of the blog.
When I photographed this lance-tipped darner, at the Old cedar Ave Bridge in October, I was not aware that it was feasting on a recently caught lady bug. Since I had never photographed this type of dragonfly before I thought that lady bug shell was just a strange mandible on this different type of dragonfly. It was not until I was looking closely at the pics later that it was a picture of the dragonfly eating its prey.
This shot, taken at Dodge Nature Center last August, was not included because of the subject matter. Pink lady beetles are not rare or particularly difficult to shoot. I included this shot because I love the composition and the contrasting colors.
As one might assume from the title of the blog the main subject of Ecobirder are the birds. So I have included a lot of my favorite bird pics also. This first one was taken this past March at a feeding station up in the Sax Zim Bog area. I thought that I was lucky when I spotted an elusive boreal chickadee but then I really got really lucky when this one let me take its pic while it was drinking snow.
I chose this photo of a bohemian waxwing, that I shot in November up at Two Harbors, MN, because of the color and composition. I made several trips up to the Duluth and Two harbors area last fall. There are some great birding locations in Duluth, Superior, and Two Harbors like Park Point, Wisconsin Point and Hawk Ridge, just to name a few. I took this picture of a pine grosbeak while at the Sax Zim Bog Birding Festival in February of this year. I found that Sax Zim Birding Festival was the most productive birding festival or conference that I participated in over the year.
I get excited when I am able to take a picture of a bird engaged in its day to day activities, other then just perched. That is why this picture of an American redstart emerging from a bush with its prey, that I took in July at the Old cedar Ave Bridge, was included.
The American goldfinch may be a common bird in many parts of North America but it is also a favorite of many people. The bright yellow color of the male, during the breeding season matches, reminds us of happy sunny summer days. I spent quite a few of those summer days photographing goldfinch at the Bass Ponds.
On our way back from Yellowstone, in May of 2007, Michelle and I made a quick side trip to Medicine Lake NWR in Montana. Our objective was to get pictures of eared grebe in breeding plumage and as you can probably tell by the photo above we were successful.
The common loon is the Minnesota state bird but we do not see them that often, except during migration, in the southern pat of the state. That is why we had to travel to Crex Meadows, in Wisconsin, last June to get this loon pic.
Crex Meadows has more then just loons. We also shot this trumpeter swan with cygnets at Crex last June. Crex had at least 8 breeding pair that produced cygnets last summer.
Sax Zim Bog is known for its winter bird species but it can be a great place to bird other times of the year too. Last September on our way home from the Vince Schute Bear Sanctuary we swung through Sax Zim and found one of the most cooperative American kestrels that I have ever witnessed.
With gas prices rising, not to mention pollution levels, I tried to do a lot more birding around home. During the winter it was tough since there are quite a few less birds, as well as no insects, to photograph. Fortunately I was lucky that there was a sharp-shinned hawk that was visiting the feeder station at the Minnesota Valley NWR frequently over the winter months.
I try and carry my camera with me every where that I can because you never know when you will get an opportunity to take some fabulous pics. That was the case one Wednesday in November when I was volunteering at The Raptor Center. Someone had spotted a wild peregrine falcon in the area so I grabbed my camera and went to take a look. I found the bird on top of a fresh kill and stayed to take 8gb worth of pics.
The red-tailed hawk is the most common raptor that we see around where I live. If you were playing a drinking game where you took a drink every time that you saw a red-tail on a post, sign, tree or light pole as you were heading down a road you would be in trouble in no time. This red-tail actually flew over my truck and perched almost right above me down by the Hok-Si-La Park in November.
While the red-tailed hawk is the day shift raptor around here the great horned owl is the night shift. Technically great horns are mostly crepuscular, meaning that they are the dusk and dawn shift. In January, thanks to help from the MOU list server I was able to locate a great horned owl nest and photograph both adults and a chick several times over a month.
Great horned owls are cool but no owl draws as much attention as a snowy owl. In November a snowy owl decided to perch out in a tree in front of the visitors center at Tamarack Nature Center. It was only there for one day, a cloudy day with poor light, but I still managed to get a couple of good pics.
Minnesota is home to more bald eagles then any other state in the US other then Alaska. During the winter these eagles migrate south to places where they can find open water. A large number of them congregate on the Mississippi River where the water does not freeze. Colville Park in Red Wing, MN, which is just down river from a power plant, is one of the best spots to photograph wintering eagles.
Another spot where you can find open water, and thus find eagles, in January is at Prescott Wisconsin. This year in Prescott there were not only eagles, like the one above, but there was also visiting harlequin duck which wintered there.
Reeds Landing farther down river as well as Wabasha, home of the National Eagle Center, are other good locations to view wintering eagles between late November and March.
Ecobirder is mo0re then just birds and bugs. Michelle and i like to get away when we can and when we do we go to locations where we can photograph interesting birds, bugs and animals. If February of 2007 we took a trip to Monterey Bay, CA. We took a lot of great pics but one of our favorite where these sea otter pics.
Our usual vacation destination is Yellowstone National Park. We have visited Yellowstone every year for the past eight years. Sometimes we go in the fall and stay mostly in the Tetons to photograph moose. Other times, like last year, we go in mid may so that we can catch all the new babies around the park. The hit of last years trip was photographing an active coyote den.

Well there you have it, the pictures that I felt were the best ones that I took for the first year of ecobirder.blogspot.com. I hope that you have enjoyed the blog and have taken away something positive from your visits here. Please help me to make year two even better by posting some comments after this post. Please tell me what you like about the blog and/or what could be improved. Or if you would prefer, just let me know which one of the pics in this post, or any other pic from the blog, that you think is the best and why you like it.
Thank you all, for you continued support.
Jeff Fischer
AKA Ecobirder


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Congratulations Jeff! I believe I found my way here via Ivars' blog and have been a regular visitor ever since. I appreciate that the informative nature of your blog- I always learn something new. I get a sense of your ethics here too. Your collection of favorite photos are amazing. I don't think I can choose a favorite, but the fat coyote pups sure made me smile. Good luck on year two.

Anonymous said...

I am pretty new to discovering your blog, so I'm glad you highlighted your photos from the past year. They're all beautiful, and I'm glad I've had the chance to see them.

Unknown said...

You consistently have good shots and talk about interesting locations. It was here that I first learned of Crex Meadows, which is an amazingly cool place to visit. Keep at it!

Anonymous said...

It's been an incredible year at Ecobirder. What's really impressive is that these photos are just the tip of the iceberg. You're a talented nature blogger, Jeff... hope you've got many more years of Ecobirder ahead of you!

Anonymous said...

Congrats Jeff!
Your pictures are superlative and it is very hard for me to make a pick. But I will take a stab and pick the young cayote pair as you best! It scores very high on the cuteness index and I quite like those. Happy blogging!

Anonymous said...