Great Blue Heron

“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.”

~John James Audubon (1785-1851), American scientist

(Quote Source: brainyquote.com)

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A great blue heron flies gracefully across a Minnesota lake as the sun dips lower into the horizon.

Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge

“Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.”

~ Sarah Ban Breathnach (1947- ), American author

(Quote Source: brainyquote.com)

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A swan flies over the wild rice beds of the Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge located in McGregor, Minnesota.

To learn more about the refuge, please visit their website.

 

 

Solitude

“The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone.”

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), Poet

(Quote Source: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johannwolf104256.html?src=t_beauty)

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A lone Great Egret at twilight, patiently on the hunt for frogs or fish in a Minnesota wetland.  I sat by myself on the shore and quietly watched this graceful bird.

Water Shield Plant

“Living big and joyful and content is almost always the result of our finding satisfaction in life’s ordinary day-to-day pleasures.  And God must be fond of them, too, for He made so many of them for us to enjoy.

~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr., (1940- ) American author

(Quote Source: BrainyQuote.com)

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The Water Shield plant is also known as the Dollar Bonnet.  Here is a photo of some that I found floating on a pond in northern Minnesota.  I’m told that this plant indicates a good spot for fishing as it provides shade for panfish, largemouth bass, and northern pike.

Naughty Ducklings

“Children are not a distraction from more important work.  They are the most important work.”

~ C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)

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I had a fine time at the local pond watching these little ducklings run across and then dodge behind the numerous lily pads.  Mama Wood Duck had quite a time trying to gather them together again!

Surrender to the Moment

“If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.”

~Anne Morrow Lindbergh, (1906-2001) American author, aviator, and the wife of aviator Charles Lindbergh

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A lovely pair of Trumpeter Swans that I photographed in May as they basked in the spring sunshine.

Happy Frogs

Always be happy.

When people are in a bad mood,

the last thing they want

is to hang around with

happy people.

~Kermit the Frog, Muppet

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Springtime in the marsh includes the many voices of frogs calling out to potential mates.  The variety of songs is fascinating!  Here is just a sampling of calls in a northern Minnesota wetland:

Canada Goose

“Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.”
~ Isabelle Eberhardt, The Nomad: The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt

AS4A6027-1(Canada Goose in a spring wetland.)

One of the first birds to return to Minnesota in the spring is the Canada Goose.  This common bird is one of the best known birds in North America. It is found in every contiguous U.S. state and Canadian province at one time of the year or another!

When Canada (not Canadian) geese migrate, they form impressive and aerodynamic “V-formations.” They can fly 1,500 miles in just 24 hours with a favorable wind, but generally travel at a more leisurely pace.  For me, a Canada Goose in the spring is similar to sighting the first American Robin.

Feed the Birds!

“Learning is not compulsory…neither is survival.”

~Dr. W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993) American scholar, statistician, and teacher

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(Pictured above are ducks migrating through my area: a male Ring-necked duck and four Hooded Mergansers.)

What is it about some birds that compel them to migrate?  Once they begin their journey, how do they know when it is time to stop?  How do they know when it is time to return?  Scientists continue to study and learn about this phenomenon!

Here are a few facts that I found interesting about bird migration:

  1.  At least 4,000 species of bird are regular migrants, which is about 40 percent of the total number of birds in the world. (Although this number will likely increase as we learn more about the habits of birds in tropical regions.)–Audubon.org.
  2. The Bar-tailed Godwit can fly for nearly 7,000 miles without stopping, making it the bird with the longest recorded non-stop flight.  During the eight-day journey, the bird doesn’t stop for food or rest–Audubon.org.
  3. Hawks, swifts, swallows and waterfowl migrate primarily during the day, while many songbirds migrate at night, in part to avoid the attention of migrating predators such as raptors. The cooler, calmer air at night also makes migration more efficient for many species, while those that migrate during the day most often take advantage of solar-heated thermal currents for easy soaring–birding.about.com.
  4. The ruby-throated hummingbird migrates from the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico to the southeastern United States every spring, a journey of 500-600 miles over the Caribbean Sea that takes 24 hours without a break–birding.about.com.
  5. Migrating birds face many threats along their journeys, including window collisions, confusing lights that disrupt navigation, hunting, habitat loss and predation. Juvenile birds are at greater risk because of their inexperience with migration – yet somehow, birds successfully migrate every year–birding.about.com.

So, consider putting out and keeping full a bird feeder and/or bird bath in the spring and the fall.  There are some tired and hungry birds traveling at these times of year!

Spring Bird Migration

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,

To gain all while you give,

To roam the roads of lands remote,

To travel is to live.”

~Hans Christian Andersen, The Fairy Tale of My Life: An Autobiography

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We are in the midst of the bird migration season here in Minnesota.  Simply put, birds migrate to move from areas of low or decreasing resources to areas of high or increasing resources. The two primary resources being sought are food and nesting locations.  It can be an exciting time for birders and photographers alike as all hope to spot something new and/or different as the birds visit our area.

This is a shot of geese high above a birding “hotspot” near the Cannon River in southeastern Minnesota.  (To learn more about birding hotspots, please visit:  http://ebird.org/content/ebird/news/hotspot-explorer/ )

 

 

That Cycle of Life

“I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.”

~Andrew Wyeth, (1917-2009) American artist

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This place currently covered by a blanket of snow looks so still and quiet.  Once spring arrives, however, the ice will melt to free the water in the pond.  The trees will blossom, the birds will arrive to nest, and color will return.  Life will begin anew.

Open Your Eyes

Open your eyes that you may see
The beauty that around you lies,
The misty loveliness of the dawn,
The glowing colors of the skies;
The Child’s bright eager eyes of blue,
The gnarled and wrinkled face of age,
The bird with crimson on his wing
Whose spirit never knew a cage;
The roadsides blooming goldenrod
So brave through summer’s wind and heat,
The brook that rushes to the sea
With courage that naught may defeat.
Open your eyes that you may see
The wonder that around you lies;
It will enrich your every day
And make you glad and kind and wise.
~Emma Boge Whisenand, Open Your Eyes

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As a Minnesotan, I find the fact that the Great Egret is native to my state to be amazing.  Seriously!  This is a shot of an egret during mating season.  Doesn’t this bird look too exotic to be sitting on a branch in a local Minneapolis wetland?

According to allaboutbirds.org, the pristinely white Great Egret gets especially dressed up for the breeding season. A patch of skin on its face turns neon green, and long plumes grow from its back. Called aigrettes, those plumes were the bane of egrets in the late nineteenth century, when such adornments were prized for ladies’ hats.  I’m glad that tradition has gone out of style.

As a nature photographer, I count myself blessed whenever I open my eyes to see a sight such as this one!

Wild Country Needed

“We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.”

~Wallace Stegner (American writer, historian, and environmentalist), 1960, from a letter written to the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission

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The Green Heron

I once had the good fortune to discover a Green Heron living on a local pond.  I visited regularly over the course of one summer.  He/she became accustomed enough to me and my camera that I could sit quietly on the shore and watch its daily activities.  All of these shots were taken one beautiful summer afternoon on a pond in Minnesota.

According to allaboutbirds.com, Green Herons live around wooded ponds, marshes, rivers, reservoirs, and estuaries.  They are common and widespread, but can be difficult to notice at first. Whereas larger herons tend to stand prominently in open parts of wetlands, Green Herons tend to be at the edges, in shallow water, or concealed in vegetation. To find one, visit a wetland and carefully scan the banks looking for a small, hunch-backed bird with a long, straight bill staring intently at the water.

Green Herons stand motionless at the water’s edge as they hunt for fish and amphibians. They typically stand on vegetation or solid ground, and they don’t wade as often as larger herons.

The Green Heron is one of the world’s few tool-using bird species. It creates fishing lures with bread crusts, insects, earthworms, twigs, feathers, and other objects, dropping them on the surface of the water to entice small fish.