Saturday, April 30, 2011

Previously at the TCAAP WVA I saw Battle Clouds

Battle Clouds by Mully410 * Images
Battle Clouds, a photo by Mully410 * Images on Flickr.
It's rainy and windy at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area today. I'll brave the rain on occasion but when it's windy it's difficult to keep the rain of the lens.

Here is a shot from April 2nd, 2010. The clouds were super interesting. It reminded me of the movie Independence Day.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Previously and Pretty Much Always...I see butts

Cigarette butts are litter. Please put them in the garbage rather than out the window or at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Previously at the TCAAP WVA, I saw a Bike Shadow

Bike Shadow (2) by Mully410 * Images
Bike Shadow (2), a photo by Mully410 * Images on Flickr.
This photo has been accepted for an exhibition of "Bike Art" at a gallery Altered Esthetics in North East Minneapolis. Once I nail down the details, I'll let you all know when and where to show up.

Here is the FB invite to the opening night. The details:

Altered Esthetics’ 6th annual bike art show brings together some of the Twin Cities’ largest communities…artists, cyclists, and those who love both! Join us in creating another amazing exhibit of bike-themed photography, painting, sculpture and interactive art.

Opening Reception
Friday, June 3, 2011 - 7pm-10pm

Artists' Discussion
Saturday, June 18, 2011 - 1pm-3pm
Altered Esthetics
1224 Quincy St NE
Minneapolis, Minnesota
I'll be at the opening reception for sure.  Not sure about the discussion on the 18th.

I made this photograph back on March 27, 2011 2009 with my Sony DSC-W150 point-and-shoot camera. I spent nearly two years with only this camera before I upgraded to the Nikon D5000. I think that helped me hone my photography skills by limiting my options. I was forced to work with what I had. Once I reached the limit of my tools (the point and shoot camera), I was ready to move to something that allowed more control. The same thing happened a year after I got the D5000. I reached the limit of it's capabilities so I upgraded again.

This is a good example that a photograph is made in the mind. The camera is only a tool to capture that vision.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Previously I Saw Sunsets at TAAP WVA

Today it's rainy, windy and cold at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area so I'm sharing some sunset photos. The photo on the right was taken in June 2010 with my D5000. Barbed-wire surrounds the area and I often sit there trying to think of how to photography it.

I've taken thousands of sunset photos here and every time I promise myself I won't take another one unless it's "spectacular." That promise never works. I always make the photos. Here is a slideshow of my best 219 sunsets at the TCAAP WVA.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Today I saw a deer and a turkey

Today, I saw some deer and a turkey at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area. Here is a cruddy snapshot I found interesting because it looks like the deer is giving the stinkeye to the turkey.

I also saw an eastern phoebe for the first time this year and the two loons that are still shopping for a nesting sight.

And these guys were out controlling mosquitoes.

Mosquito Control DSC_1998

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Today I saw birds house hunting.

Bluebird House Hunting DSC_1692
Bluebird House Hunting
by Mully410 * Images

Today I saw some bluebirds checking out the nest can. They've been doing this for a couple weeks now. It doesn't look like they've settled in yet.

Bluebird House Hunting DSC_1693
Bluebird House Hunting
by Mully410 * Images

These tree swallows have been checking out the big bird house too. Last year they did the same but didn't nest. I was told this house if for purple martins but I've never seen one in the area.

Swallows House Hunting DSC_1801
Swallows House Hunting
by Mully410 * Images

If you know anything about tree swallows you can appreciate how difficult it was to get this shot:

Tree Swallow DSC_1763

Tree Swallow
by Mully410 * Images

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Previously at the TCAAP WVA...

Not much going on at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area today. I stopped in for about an hour near dusk. I saw the trumpeter swan pair and a pair of loons. One osprey was sitting on the nest.

The photo on the right is from last September. It's a yellow-rumped warbler on a mullein plant.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Previously at the TCAAP WVA...

Last year, I entered a photo into the Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts competition. It didn't get selected but good things happened after my rejection.

This year, I'm considering entering a photo from the TCAAP WVA. I'm not sure which one yet but I'm leaning towards a landscape with the bridge. The photo on the right, Evening Bridge, already won a competition at Gallery 96. I entered an 8x12 version for that show. I'm thinking of a 16x24 for the fair.

I'm also considering entering this photo. I took it recently with my D7000 and 10-24mm lens. I've had some great feedback on it.

Bolt and Bridge DSC_9455
Bolt and Bridge DSC_9455
by Mully410 * Images

Which photo do you like better? Would you enter either of these or would you pick something else from my photostream?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dark Bridge

Dark Bridge DSC_1010 by Mully410 * Images
Dark Bridge DSC_1010, a photo by Mully410 * Images on Flickr.
This is one side of the wooden bridge that used go over Rice Creek. The Army moved it to the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area when they didn't need to do regular patrols.

I got on my knees get this angle and actually used the "M" setting on the camera to make it all creepy.

What else did I see:  Loons, Lots of loons, Osprey, Bluebirds, Geese, Swans and Ducks.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Today I saw...

Osprey Hates Tree DSC_0581
Osprey Hates Tree DSC_0581
by Mully410 * Images

Today was another interesting evening at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area.  It was cloudy and cold with a little bit of sleet to teach me a lesson.  I debated heading home early but it looked like the clouds would clear for an interesting sunset.  Fortunately, I stuck around.

One of the Osprey flew by and it took me second to get on target because I got a little tangled up with the rain cover I use with my camera rig.  I got on target just as the osprey dove on a tree and tore off a branch.  It carried it all the way to the nest and dropped it off for its mate.  If you click on the images above and below for a bigger version it will be easier to see the bits of dead tree debris in the air.

Osprey Hates Tree DSC_0582
Osprey Hates Tree DSC_582
by Mully410 * Images

Next up, I saw four loons.  I love the sounds loons make and these didn't disappoint.  Eventually, two of them flew off.  The others followed a few minutes later.

Loons DSC_0712
by Mully410 * Images

I also saw a tom turkey displaying for two hens.   These were kind of close to me but the barbed wire and the mullein obstructed my view.  I did post a super-cropped version on flickr but I'm not particularly proud of it.

Turkey Display DSC_0669
Turkey Display
by Mully410 * Images

All of today's shots were taken with my Nikon D7000 and the old Nikkor 300mm F4 lens on a Manfrotto monopod. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Previously at the TCAAP WVA

Moving Islands
by Mully410 * Images

I didn't make it out the viewing area today so I'll begin a new feature for this blog:  Previously at the TCAAP WVA.   

I ran into a man and two boys at the viewing area last week.  The man commented that the water in Lake Marsden seemed like it was a lot higher than the previous week.  I asked why he thought that and he said it was because he could see more water in the lake.  So I explained.

Lake Marsden is a shallow lake filled with floating bogs.  These bogs look like cattail islands and they move around the lake.  During very windy days, I often see the islands moving around.  The above rudimentary time lapse is an example of this happening.  Pretty much every day I go there the islands are configured differently.   Sometimes there is very little water visible from the viewing area.  At other times, all the islands are piled up on the north side so it looks like a traditional lake.  I prefer to have all the islands in the north or west end of the lake so all the activity in the water is closer to me. 

I once watched a great blue heron fishing from one of the more tiny islands as it floated by.

Heron Boating DSC_6332
Heron Boating
by Mully410 * Images

Monday, April 18, 2011

Today I saw...

Berms DSC_0450 by Mully410 * Images
Berms DSC_0450, a photo by Mully410 * Images on Flickr.
No award winning photographs made at the TCAAP WVA today. I did see some interesting things. In fact, I pretty much see something new and interesting every day I'm there. Today, I arrived to see an older couple already there. They are birders somewhat like myself and I've seen them at this spot 3 or 4 times in the last several years.

Just as we began talking, the northern harrier flew past. Since my camera is always ready, I pulled up and took aim...only to find out my lens cap was still on the Nikkor 300mm F4. Doh. This almost never happens. Honest.

It was cloudy with a cold wind so I had to manipulate the above photo a bit. Once I set a black control point, the colors came alive. Those "hills" are berms made by the US Army back in the day. They are at the far end of the old range where they test fired the ammo they manufactured on the site.  There is a deer in the middle left of the image and a tom turkey on the right side at the bottom of the berm.

The most interesting thing I saw was what I think was a juvenile bald eagle circling over the lake.  I was hoping it would dive into the lake.  It sure looked like it would but it didn't.  I suspect it was checking out the two common loons because once the eagle left, the loons popped up.

View of the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area

Prairie Nature Trail Sign DSC_1305
Prairie Nature Trail Sign
by Mully410 * Images

Here is an over-exposed shot just inside the entrance to the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing area. It's a really small site. I think the total area is about the size of my yard which is a third of an acre.  I'm facing west when I took this shot. 

I'll post some more wider angle shots of the area soon.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Welcome to Today at the TCAAP Wildlife View Area

Tree Swallow on the Wing DSC_0115
Tree Swallow on the Wing
by Mully410 * Images

Welcome to Today at the TCAAP Wildlife View Area.  I've been visiting this site in Arden Hills, Minnesota almost daily since 2008.  In that time, I've seen all sorts of interesting wildlife, plants and events.  This blog is where I will document what I see and experience while within the confines of this small patch of restored prairie.  I hope you look forward to enjoying my experiences and photographs in this area. 

TCAAP = Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant.

From the City of Arden Hills' website:
TCAAP Property History
In 1941, the federal government started construction on the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant (TCAAP), which occupied about 3.7 square miles (2,370 acres) in what was then Mounds View Township.  During a 16 month period, over 300 buildings were constructed to manufacture and test munitions for World War II.  The plant also produced munitions for the Korean conflict, Vietnam conflict, and the first Gulf War.  At its peak, the property had 40 miles of electric and telephone wire, 83 miles of sewer, 37 miles of road and railroad track, and employed more than 25,000 people.

The entire TCAAP property was included in the Arden Hills municipal border when the City incorporated in 1951, and now occupies approximately the northern third of Arden Hills.  The TCAAP property is bounded by Highway 96 on the south, Highways 10 and 35W on the west, Lexington Avenue on the east, and County Road I on the north.

Between 1974 and 1985, the federal government started decommissioning TCAAP.  While munitions production by private entities continued into the early 2000s, operations were a fraction of peak production.  Plans to transfer portions of the property and redevelop it have been in the works since the 1980s. 
During the manufacture of small arms ammunition and other munitions over 60 years, the site was heavily contaminated.  The US Environmental Protection Agency designated many individual "super fund" sites within the property.  Clean up continues to this day. 

The TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area in on the East side of the former TCAAP property.  This side is currently used by the US Army and Minnesota National Guard.  This side is now known as the Arden Hills Army Training Site (AHATS).  I often see the green drab vehicles driving around the spider web of gravel roads.  The WVA itself is very small, perhaps a quarter of an acre.  There is a small trail of only a few hundred feet that winds around and over an old timber bridge.  (More on the bridge in a later post)

I'm not going to guarantee that I'll post every day but I will promise that I'll post something from every one of my visits. 

Today, I saw:  Trumpeter Swans, Osprey, Eastern Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, Song Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees, American Crows, Mallards, Canada Geese, Goldfinches and a juvenile bald eagle.