25 December 2009

Merry Christmas

Partridge in a pear tree?
No, this is a female pheasant in a hackberry tree.
About the closest we can get here in Minnesota.
With 10 inches of heavy snow on the ground,
this smart pheasant decided to get her food from a tree.

Merry Christmas from Minnesota

11 December 2009

December Bluebird

Images from a subzero morning

Frost on the screen in early morning light

Ice crystals formed in the birdbath

08 December 2009

A Dusting of Snow

The gentle beginning of a snowstorm

06 December 2009

Creating Habitat for Swans

For the past four years, various government agencies
have collaborated to build 26 islands in the Mississippi River,
restoring aquatic habitat so important for migratory waterfowl.

Tundra swans rest on the edge of one of the new islands.
Rock rip-rap is used to protect the islands from erosion
which caused so much damage in the past.

The islands protect from the river currents and wind action allowing
for aquatic vegetation to grow between them.

The swans eat an estimated 6 pounds of tubers from aquatic plants
such as wild celery, arrowhead and sago pondweed.

Prior to the 1970s, only “small numbers” of tundra swans consistently stopped along the Mississippi River on their way to wintering grounds in the Chesapeake Bay.
In recent years, fall swan numbers
on the Upper Mississippi River have swelled to more than 30,000 during late November.

30 November 2009

Last Light of November

Today's Sunrise

Today's Sunset

27 November 2009

A Rest Stop for 10,000 Swans

There are special places
known for seeing masses of birds
at a certain time of the year.
One of these spectacular events is the fall migration
rest stop for tundra swans and other waterfowl
on the Mississippi River in southern Minnesota.

The swans start arriving in late October
from their nesting grounds in Canada.
They will rest and feed here until freeze-up
which is usually the first part of December.
Then they will finish their fall journey by
flying on to winter on the Atlantic Coast.

Tucked in amongst the island rivers are pockets of swans.
20 to 40% of the eastern swan population visit this location
known as Pool 8 on the Mississippi River
which is a National Wildlife & Fish Refuge.

In the foreground are the young swans called cygnets.
They have gray bodies with pink bills.

A family of swans

10 November 2009

Sunset at French Creek Preserve

Hooded Mergansers are one of the showiest ducks in North America, rivaling the wood duck in pure beauty. Seen in larger numbers during spring and fall migration, mergansers will also nest in the Twin Cities using wood duck houses.

Fleeting images of the sun
along the pond's bank
in the short days of November.

03 November 2009

Autumn Red

29 October 2009

Rock 'n Roll Nature

A Katydid pays homage to Lucinda Williams
who was recently married at the
First Avenue nightclub in Minneapolis.

19 October 2009

A muted fall

Finally after two weeks of rain, snow and cold weather, the sun is finally out.

Falls colors are not as vibrant as last year's display.

Still some green left at Wood-Rill

13 October 2009

Snow and Snowier

Light dusting on October 10th

A couple inches two days later!

Average date for the first snowfall in the Twin Cities
is around Mid-November but not
unusual to be getting some white with the fall colors.

Autumn Joy Sedum and Snow

02 October 2009

So above and below

Barred Owl

A proud man is always looking down on things and people;
and, of course, as long as you're looking down,
you can't see something that's above you.
-C.S. Lewis

Hornet's Nest

28 September 2009

Purple Reign



New England Aster

23 September 2009

Fading Images from Late Summer

A goldfinch dines on the seeds of a green-headed coneflower.

American Elderberry

A buffer of beggar-ticks (see neat photo essay) grows on the pond edge
dry from the lack of water.


12 September 2009

A Working Waterfall

Vermillion Falls located in Hastings Minnesota was the water power behind a flour mill started in 1853 by Harrison Graham who produced the first graham flour in the state.
Graham flour, a version of whole wheat flour, commonly used today in pie crusts and graham crackers, was touted at the time as being much healthier than white flour.

This site is now an expanded mill operated by ConAgra Foods.
Remnants of the old mill are still incorporated
in the walls of the present structure.

11 September 2009

Hummingbirds on the Defense

This time of year, Minnesota is full of hummingbirds migrating through on their way south. Often they will stay a few days and defend a food source.
This hummer is protecting......

........this feeder station and keeping others away.

Here is the silhouette of a hummer doing the natural thing and guarding a stand of flowers below .....

.....not just any flowers but Jewelweed, a favorite late summer food of hummingbirds.
A plant that truly grows like a weed in wetlands and pond edges,
Jewelweed (also known as the Spotted Touch-Me-Knot) is a natural nectar source for the migrating birds.

These plants are highly prized and the hummers will fight
over who owns these clumps of flowers.

A great plant to have in wetland buffers, Jewelweed
will easily shrivel and disappear with the first frost leaving very little
plant material to have to cut down or rake in the spring.

27 August 2009

Photos of the Gardens at Dusk

Wetland Buffer

Vegetable Harvest

Yellow and Purple Coneflower