Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Herring Gulls in Grand Marais, MN

The red  of the rocky shoreline with the blue of Lake Superior makes for some colorful land/seascapes ,  Grand Marais Harbor, MN, 8/10/2011.

Herring Gull, Grand Marais Harbor, MN, 8/10/2011.

A juvenile Herring Gull,  Grand Marais Harbor, MN, 8/10/2011.
After we returned from our hike up Eagle Mt, the highest point in Minnesota, which is in the Boundary Waters National Canoe Wilderness, I decided to check out the marina in Grand Marais hoping to see some shore birds. Again, maybe it's too early in the year yet, but there wasn't much for migratory birds. I did see lots of Herring Gulls (Above) a few Mallards, and a pair of Common Mergansers (Below) in the water.

Either a female or juvenile male Common Merganser,  Grand Marais Harbor, MN, 8/10/2011.

A Song Sparrow found a home in a small spit of forested land off the coast of lake Superior in  Grand Marais Harbor, MN, 8/10/2011.
In a treeline on the shore, there were Common Crows and Song Sparrows (Above), but not much else.

Some artistic cairns dotted a section of the shoreline in  Grand Marais Harbor, MN, 8/10/2011.

Another pic of the red/blue contrast of the rocky shoreline,  Grand Marais Harbor, MN, 8/10/2011.
Sunset of the Day
Another Lake Superior sunset from the Pictured Rocks National Shoreline, Upper Michigan; 5/25/2007.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Boreal or Black-Capped Chickadees? Temperence River State Park, Minnesota

Temperence River in its namesake State Park, MN; 8/11/2011. 
We hiked one of the most beautiful river hikes that I have ever taken. The trail followed the Temperence River for most of the 7 mile round trip hike. One could almost follow the trail "on" the river by boulder hopping. It was full of gorgeous cascading falls and swimming holes. As a matter of fact, I am glad we left on this hike early in the morning to get good pictures of the river, because in the late morning / early afternoon upon our return, the river was full of people swimming in the river - it must be local hot spot for swimming.

As you can see, one could almost boulder hop the entire river, Temperence River State Park, MN, 8/11/2011.
The Temperence River winding its way through the State Park, MN; 8/11/2011.
 Again, like our Eagle Mt. hike, this was not a good birding hike. Again I dipped on finding a Black-backed Woodpecker and warblers were not out and about. Although I definitely saw and heard Boreal Chickadees, the photos (Below) I took were inconclusive whether I photographed a Boreal or a Black-cap. They were juveniles and hard to tell apart.

Is this a juvenile Boreal or Black-capped Chickadee?, Temp Riv SP, MN, 8/11/2011.

Boreal or Black Cap?

Hairy Woodpecker, Temp Riv SP, MN, 8/11/2011.
Other than chickadees, I also identified another Hairy Woodpecker (Above - my second of the summer), American Crows, Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches,  and another Yellow-rumped Myrtle. Below are more photogenic pics of the Temperence River.

I love the vanishing point in this pic, Temperence River State Park, MN; 8/11/2011.
One of the many waterfalls and cascades on the Temperence River, MN; 8/11/2011.
Blue sky and green foliage add to the colors of the red rocks in the reflections of the Temperence River, MN; 8/11/2011.

Sunset of the Day
A Lake Superior sunset goes well with a beach campfire in the Porcupine Mts. Wilderness, Upper Michigan; 5/24/2008.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Birds on Eagle Mt, Boundary Waters, MN

View of the Boundary Waters from the top of Eagle Mt, highest point in Minnesota. Taken with a wide angle lens, Boundary Waters, MN; 8/10/2011.
Val and I hiked the 7 mile round trip trail up Eagle Mountain, the highest point in Minnesota. It was an easy hike, and took less than two hours to get to the top.  I was hoping to catch sight of some birds that I would not find in Illinois during the month of August. In particular, I was hoping to find a Boreal Chickadee, a Black-backed Woodpecker or any of a various number of wood warblers.

Whale Lake, one of the many lakes found in the Boundary Waters, MN; 8/10/2011.
As it turned out, it wasn't a particularly good bird hike. I definitely  heard Boreal Chickadees, but they were mixed in with some Black-Caps, and I couldn't tell the difference between them in the brief glimpses I had of them - no luck on the Black-backed Woodpecker either. But here is the list of birds that I did identify: American Robins (Photo Below), Blue Jays, Yellow-rumped Myrtles (Photo Below), Chickadees, White-throated Sparrows, American Redstarts (Photo Below), American Crows, Downy Woodpecker, Cedar Waxwings, Vesper Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and White-breasted Nuthatches.
Female American Redstart, Eagle Mt., MN; 8/10/2011.

Juvenile White-throated Sparrow, Eagle Mt., MN; 8/10/2011.

Juvenile American Robin, Eagle Mt., MN; 8/10/2011.

Yellow-rumped Myrtle, Eagle Mt., MN; 8/10/2011.
An interesting little peninsula in the Boundary Waters from  Eagle Mt., MN; 8/10/2011.

Sunset of the Day
Another Lake Superior sunset, Porcupine Mts., Upper Michigan; 5/24/2008.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Yellow-bellied & Olive-sided Flycatchers: Birding on the Lake Superior Coast, MN

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Two Harbors, MN; 8/9/2011.
 Continuing our trip up the beautiful coast of Lake Superior in Minnesota, we stopped in the small town of Two Harbors to check out a Light House (Below bottom), and to my delight there was a fantastic trail running along the bluffs overlooking the Lake Superior, and had many birds calling this area their home. I was mostly searching for shore birds and warblers, which are species sorely lacking on my Life List. The only warbler I could find was a juvenile Yellow-rumped Myrtle, and the only shore birds I saw were Herring Gulls, both of which I have seen plenty of in my birding life. However, I did manage to add two new birds to my Life List: the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (Above) and the Olive-sided Flycatcher (Below top), #'s 322 and 323 on my Life List.
Olive-sided Flycatcher,Two Harbors, MN; 8/9/2011

The Light House in Two Harbors, MN; 8/9/2011
We travelled further north up the coast and stopped to check out several more scenic areas, such as Gooseberry Falls State Park, Silver Bay Marina, and Split Rock Light House State Park (Photos Below), neither of them added to my bird photography but they added some nice images to my natural scenery photography files.
A man-made breakwater leading out to an island, Silver Bay, MN; 8/9/2011.

Gooseberry Falls State Park, MN; 8/9/2011.

Gooseberry Falls State Park, MN; 8/9/2011.

Gooseberry Falls State Park, MN; 8/9/2011.

Lake Superior in the background, Gooseberry Falls State Park, MN; 8/9/2011.

Split Rock Light House, MN; 8/9/2011.
Bird List from the Northern Coast of Lake Superior in Minnesota: American Crows, Herring Gulls, Ring-billed Gulls, Cnada Geese, Mallard Ducks, Turkey Vulture, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, American Robin, Black-capped Chickadees, Cedar Waxwings (below), Song Sparrows, Savanah Sparrows, Lincoln Sparrows, American Goldfinches, House Finches, and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.
Ceadar Waxwing, Two Harbors, MN; 8/9/2011.

Another look at the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher looking at me; Two Harbors, MN; 8/9/2011.
Sunset of the Day
What better sunset to show than a Lake Superior sunset from the Porcupine Mountains Rec. Area in Upper Michigan; 5/25/2008. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hiking and Birding in the Boundary Waters, Minnesota

Lake Superior as seen from the top of Gooseberry Falls, Minnesota; 8/9/2011.
I took a short trip up to Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters area in Northern Minnesota for a short break before the school year commences. I love Lake Superior - it is my favorite Great Lake, and it is always cool to explore the region. So we booked three days at the Lutsen Ski Resort and used that as our headquarters to start our explorations.  As a secondary plus, I thought that I might get lucky and add to my Life List of birds in three categories: Shore birds, Raptors, and Warblers. 
Upper Gooseberry Falls, Minnesota; 8/9/2011.
Instead of making the 9+ hour drive in one shot, we spent the night in Rice Lake, WI, to break up the drive. In the few hours we were in Rice Lake, we went out to one of the nearby parks to check out a hiking trail along a lake: We were there for only minutes and we already heard a Common Loon yodelling in the distance. I spotted him on the far side of the lake (too far for a good picture in the evening light). Other water fowl were the typical Canada Geese and Mallards and lots of Tree Swallows skimming the water surface for their meals of hundreds of insects. Other notable birds were Crows, Cedar Waxwings and a Flycatcer that I couldn't quite identify, but I suspect was an Eastern Phoebe.

A Remote-Controlled airplane doing its tricks, Rice lake, WI; 8/8/2011.
But it was another flying object that took center stage from the birds. While we were hiking along this lake, I heard a buzzing in the distance that would vasilate between being close then far away. Out of the corner of my I caught a glimpse of a good-sized flying object. I finally put two and two together and realized that someone was flying a remote-controlled airplane (Above) over our heads. The owner was doing some tricks with his plane - dives, loops, etc. After a few minute of watching the plane swoop, dip and roll, I turned my attention to the potentially dramatic developing sunset. After taking a few pics of the sunset (Bottom of the page), I heard the RC-plane buzz over my head, move off into the distance, then a "crunch" and the buzzing stopped. I turned and saw the poor RC-plane crashed into a row of trees (Below) and the owner swearing up a storm running across the field toward the accident site.

The remote-controlled airplane no longer airborn. The owner was very sad as he climbed the tree to claim his property.
Below are some of the birds that I captured with digital film on our various stops as we travelled through Northern Wisconsin, and the Superior Coast in Minnesota on our way to the Lutsen Ski Resort:

A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Superior, WI; 8/8/2011.
A juvenile Ring-billed Gull, Duluth, MN; 8/9/2011.
Ring-billed Gull, Duluth, MN; 8/9/2011.

Lincoln Sparrow, Two Harbors, MN; 8/9/2011.

Savannah Sparrow, Sparrow, Two Harbors, MN; 8/9/2011.
Song Sparrow, Sparrow, Two Harbors, MN; 8/9/2011.
Sunset of the Day

Sunset in Rice Lake, Wisconsin (used a wide angle lens); 8/8/2011.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, again - Texas Birds

A male Ruby-throated Hummingbird looking for the perfect spot to land, Texas; 6/22/2011.
Today I am featuring a series of photos taken in burst mode of a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird circling a feeder on my sister's property in Texas, then making a landing.
He spots its desired perch...

...and makes his approach....
... hones in on his spot...
...and the Ruby-throated Hummingbird has landed, Texas; 6/22/2011.

Sunset of the Day
Part 2 of yesterday's sunset from the car window, Michigan; 8/7/2008