Thursday, June 30, 2011

Previously Near the TCAAP WVA, I saw a Brown Thrasher

Here is another shot from my adventures behind the fence near the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area. A friend and I spent a while trying to get a shot of this brown thrasher near the gravel pit within the Arden Hills Army Training Site (AHATS). It was very difficult. It wouldn't come out from under the brush and flitted quickly between trees.

This is my best of the bunch of attempts I made. I also like this other shot because the tail is fanned out (but the beak is kind of dark.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Previously at the TCAAP WVA, I got to go "over the fence."

It was pretty windy today and kind of hot in the neighborhood so I didn't go to the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area. (I also had chores to do.)

Here is a shot from my adventure within the Arden Hills Army Training Site. I think this is building is near the old grenade testing range.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I saw a Turtle

Turtle DSC_8947 by Mully410 * Images
Turtle DSC_8947, a photo by Mully410 * Images on Flickr.
I often brag about seeing something new at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area every time I visit. Today, I saw a painted turtle on the road behind the fence. It took a little work to get into position so I could shoot through the chain-link fence.

I also saw the first giant blue hyssop of the season, got a great shot of a dragonfly , an interesting American crow and another nice (not-cropped) photo of a male eastern bluebird.

Previously at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area, I had some Big Glass

Me with the Big Glass DSC_1496
Me with the Big Glass
by Mully410 * Images

For the previous week, I spent my vacation with Nikon's wonderful, super duper, AF-S Nikkor 500mm f4/G ED VR Lens. This is about 9 pounds (3880g) of pure awesome.  I used it on my Gitzo monopod and now fully understand why people get those fancy gimbal heads for their tripods.  Whew.  I am sore.

It was nice to get some tight shots of all the birds and flowers in the area.  Less cropping and bigger prints!  Contrary to popular belief, a big lens doesn't necessarily mean you don't have to get close.  The closer you get with the big lens, the less cropping (or no cropping) you'll need.  With this lens, I did far less cropping which means I can get far bigger prints without a loss of resolution. 

I rented this lens at .  I found this lens a bit heavy for my style of wildlife shooting.  If I wanted to sit on a stool with a tripod and gimbal, I'd get the Nikkor 600mm f4.  For my next stay-cation, I think I'll try the Nikkor 200-400mm VR.   It's "only" 7.1 pounds.  ;-)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I saw Black-eyed Susans

It was very windy at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area tonight. That made it tricky to get a sharp shot of any of the plants. I liked the back lighting from the sun on these black-eyed susans. I tried the flash on them but it really blew out the yellow.

It was also kinda lonely. I already miss the 500mm...mostly. Although, it was nice to not have so much weight to lug around.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I saw Birds on a Wire

It was a bit crowded on the wire at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area this morning.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fifteen Egrets Flying DSC_7935
Fifteen Egrets Flying DSC_7935
by Mully410 * Images

It was difficult to chose a photo to represent this evening at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area. I settled on this shot of fifteen great egrets flying.  I was waiting for the osprey to bring a fish back from Turtle Lake and got glass on these egrets.  This is the largest flock of egrets I've seen to date.

My second choice for a headline photo is this shot of a river otter.  One of my goals in renting the Nikkor 500mm f/4 VR lens was to get a better shot of the otters in Lake Marsden.  This is the best I've got.  They are really far away so even with the 500, this is a severe crop.

River Otter DSC_7821

It won't make a nice big fine art print, but I like it anyway.

I also got my best green heron flight shot ever, another great blue heron in flight and a nice goldfinch leaving the mullein (my favorite finch shot so far).

Both the Fifteen Egrets and the Goldfinch photos are full resolution (not cropped).  I really going to miss the 500mm when I send it back to on Monday.  I've already started saving money...

Yesterday at the TCAAP WVA, I met Mary of the MN Army National Guard

Yesterday, I was at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area with a friend when Mary from the MN Army National Guard drove up. She opened the small gate in the WVA and let us in to so we could examine the nests on the other side of the fence. She lowered the purple martin house because I was skeptical that the tree swallows had nested in there. Sure enough, there were 6 baby tree swallows in one of the nest cavities.

Baby Tree Swallows DSC_1521

Of all the options, they picked the lowest hole facing west for their home. They were a little annoyed when we opened it and flew off.

After that, Mary offered to give us a key for the day so we could investigate the whole of the Arden Hills Army Training Site...formerly the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant. We jumped at the chance to drive back into the site to look for birds and other wildlife.   I made about 900 clicks that day and finally got through all them this afternoon.

Mary showed us a great horned owl nest...but no owls...and a red-tailed hawk nest with two young in it.  We also went to the top of the highest hill and saw tree that woodpeckers just love.   Later that evening, I staked out the osprey nest (the one I can barely see from the WVA).   That was cool.

Here is a whole slide show of the best of my clicks from that day.

Be sure to click the full screen button on the lower right to embiggen.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I saw Bugs and Fire

After pretty much three straight days of rain, I finally saw the sun at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area. I had to wait until just before sunset, around 9pm.

The sun exploded with color and painted all the clouds for about 15 minutes. (All those little specs in this shot are bugs.)

I spent a whole lot of time watching the tree swallows feed their young. The adults brought many dragonflies to them. It was kind of comical though. It takes a lot of work to cram a big dragon fly into a waiting swallow's mouth. Didn't get any descent photos. Too dark for a good fast shutter speed.

I also saw: a deer, a song sparrow, a chipping sparrow, some black-eyed susans, fleabane and an emerging mullein.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Previously at the TCAAP WVA, I saw Tree Swallows

I didn't make it out to the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area today. The weather was gloomy so I spent the day in my kitchen shooting hummingbirds.

The shot on the right was made yesterday at the Wildlife Viewing Area. The tree swallows were very active catching bugs and squabbling with each other.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Today at the TCCAP WVA, I Saw an Osprey with a Fish

Lots of rain today.  I made it out three times in between red blobs on the radar and tornado warnings.  The clouds broke up in a evening so I rushed out to the WVA.

I think this is my best Osprey with fish shot (so far) at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area. I saw it bring a much smaller fish to the next about a half hour earlier. It braved the pissed off red-winged blackbird gauntlet and flew over to Turtle Lake. I waited and gave up on a few song bird shots in the hopes that the osprey would fly over the WVA.

These shots aren't cropped very much at all but I did have to lighten up the bird and fish a bit.

Osprey and Fish DSC_6424

Click on the images for larger versions.

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I saw a Common Yellow-throat do the Twist

I got up early and checked the radar this morning. It figures it would torrential rain for the first half of my stay-cation. I saw a gap in the red and yellow blobs on the radar so I headed out to the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area.

I saw this common yellow-throat once previously and finally got glass on it today. It sat on the wire for less than a minute. Here is a shot while it was shaking and twisting.

I spent some time this afternoon watching the round lake eagles feed.  All the while, I was fighting 20-30 mph winds.  Very difficult to keep everything steady.

At the TCAAP WVA this morning, I also saw a song sparrow and a swallow feeding frenzy.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I saw (and heard) Song Sparrows

The song sparrows have been around the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area all spring. They have a distinct song and are easy to spot. Here is a shot of one of them singing.

They are a somewhat skittish bird. They won't let me approach but they'll often land very close, if I'm very still.

This chickadee landed very close, almost too close to focus.  Here is a shot after it ruffled its feathers.

Chickadee Punk DSC_5371

I also saw the conjoined black-eyed susans, a loon(er) landing, a dragonfly and a butterfly.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I saw Conjoined Susans

Conjoined Susans DSC_4811
Conjoined Susans DSC_4811
by Mully410 * Images

I saw this/these flower(s) the other day at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area so I decided to keep an eye on them.  It looks like two distinct black-eyed susan heads growing together.  Weird.

First time seeing these little yellow flowers.  No idea what they are called but they are about the size of a nickle.

Yellow DSC_4827

And the blackbirds chasing a crow:

Blackbird Chasing Crow DSC_4871

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Previously at the TCAAP WVA, I Saw Flowers Blooming

The wildflowers are blooming at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area now. This flower is called a black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta). There are lots of them in this small part of restored prairie. In fact, I helped plants some seeds on Public Lands Day in 2009.

I used my Nikon D5000 with the Nikkor 10-24mm Ultra Wide lens along with some knowledge I gained by reading Moose Peterson's book Captured. I like the way the colors pop and the distortion around the edge of the frame kind of directs the eye toward the flowers in the center. Not a great shot but I like it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I saw a Swan and Cygnet again.

Everyday is kind of dicey for this little cygnet. I saw one of the adults with it today at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area. These shots are by far not me best works. It was too dark and way far away for the 300mm F4 but I post them anyway for the blog.

After a few minutes of casual strolling around on the lake. The adult got pissed off. I'm not sure if they have to run along the water to take off but they do in this lake, particularly when they are chasing geese. The slapping is pretty loud along with the honking.

Running Swan DSC_4628

Swans don't like geese in their lake.

Swan Goose Loon Ducks DSC_4603

Swan Chasing Goose DSC_4600

I got a few printable nice shots of other birds.

This eastern bluebird female was bashing a caterpillar on the sign.  Then if flew off towards the trees.  They aren't bringing food to the nest can anymore so I figure the young have fledged already.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I saw a Swan and a Cygnet

Here is a crappy super cropped shot of one of the swans with the only cygnet they have left this summer. Just a few days ago, I saw four cygnets with the adults.

I also got some descent photos of: bluebird, goldfinch, goldfinch and goldfinch and a flower and a few piliated woodpecker shots here and here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I saw Yellow Goats Beard

The other day I learned that this flower was called Yellow Goats Beard. Today, I found one going to seed at the Wildlife Viewing Area. It looks a lot like a dandelion but it's about 3 inches in diameter.

Remember my earlier post about the four trumpeter swan cygnets? Well, I saw the two adults tonight and there was only one cygnet. Last year, they all disappeared. I wonder what's getting them...coyote, raptor, river otters...who knows?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Previously at the TCAAP WVA, I Saw a Blackbird Pestering a Heron

Lately, the red-winged blackbirds have become more aggressive than normal. When a large bird flies over Lake Marsden at the Wildlife Viewing Area, many blackbirds rise up to attack, very much like fighter planes scrambling to meet oncoming bombers. It doesn't matter if it's an eagle, osprey, egret or crow.

This poor heron was picked/pecked on nearly continuously while fishing along the edge of the lake. It would move periodically but another blackbird would take over the harassment. Finally it gave up and left the lake. Fortunately, it flew right in front of me so I could make this photograph.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I Saw a Nice Sunset

The light turned out pretty nice at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area tonight. I had to wait for it though. It was nearly solid clouds but there was a gap at the horizon. Sure enough, the whole sky turned a brilliant pink shortly after official sunset.

This shot on the right is of the pink light falling on the bridge. Had to brave the ticks and skeeters for it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I Saw a Doe Learning

Shortly after arriving at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area this afternoon, a white-tailed doe walked through the gate. This was the second time that's happened to me in 3 years. This gal first decided she would read the interpretive plaque.

Then she moseyed along looking for a snack. She found some tasty hoary alyssum:

Doe Tastey DSC_3257

Then she exited:

Doe Exit DSC_3282

...and I made a short video

There was a ton of other activity tonight.

Heron being harassed by a red-winged black bird, a loon came in for a landing, the swans brought the kids out, the osprey caught a fish and the momma bluebird caught a dragonfly.

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I Saw Cygnets

I got out to the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area this morning to try again at the bluebird nest. I quickly got distracted by the swan family.

This is my first siting of their cygnets this year. Looks like four of them. They are really far away so this shot is nearly a 100% crop.

At one point, both swans flew off and joined two other swans in the air. They left the four cygnets to fend for themselves for about 10 minutes.

No doubt, I'll keep an eye on them this summer. In 2008, they raised five or six successfully. In 2009, I think they had two grow to adulthood. Last year, they started with two but neither grew up as far as I could tell. One day they were there, the next day they weren't.

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I saw Bluebirds

Actually, I saw all kinds of things today (6-11-2011) at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area. I got up early and made a snoot for my flash in an attempt to get some flash on the bluebird house. It's about 30-40 feet away (on the other side of the barbed-wire). I don't think it did much. The shot on the right had no flash. I have to squeeze my lens through a small crack in the gate so a vertical shot would block the flash altogether. Next experiment: Off camera. I'm wary that the off camera cord for the flash will look too much like a snake and I don't want to disturb the birds.

The shot below is with the SB-400 speedlight and my homemade snoot: 

Bluebird Mom DSC_2419

I also saw: Trucks, Planes, Flowers, more Flowers, Loon, lots of Loons, Dragonflies, Butterflies (or moths), a swan in the morning mist and a closeup tree swallow.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Previously at the TCAAP WVA, I saw Me

Bridge and Self DSC_1310
Bridge and Self DSC_1310
by Mully410 * Images

The other day at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area I decided to setup the D5000 with the 10-24mm ultra wide Nikkor with the interval timer.  I took a series of about 40 shots, one per minute, to see if could get an interesting time-lapse.  Turns out it wasn't very interesting this time...lots of photos of my butt.  Next time I'll setup the frame better and use the tripod.

In this shot, I decided to make a photo of the D5000.  In my hands is the D7000, Nikkor 300mm f4 AF-ED and a Gitzo monopod. 

Here is the shot I took with that setup.

10-24mm and D5000 DSC_2064
10-24mm and D5000
by Mully410 * Images

It really emphasizes the different between 300mm and 10mm.  

Friday, June 10, 2011

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I saw Bluebirds

I brought my little stool to the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area tonight so I could be a little more comfortable as I staked out the bluebird nest.

Mom and dad bluebird were feeding some young inside the nesting can. An interesting observation was they acted differently. Mom would land on top of the nest and look around for a minute out two before flying up to the hole to drop off the bugs. Dad, on the other hand, would fly directly up to the hole and drop off a bug and take out a white blog of some kind. Not sure what he was up to...perhaps cleaning?

It was overcast and later in the evening so the light wasn't that great. Had to crank up the ISO a lot. I need to get out there in the early morning to catch the light that falls into the nest hole.

This shot is not cropped. I did some NR to it and a bit of sharpening on the bird.  Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f4 AF-ED, Sandisk digital film.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I saw US Naval Sea Cadets

I often have "firsts" when I visit the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area. Today was no exception.

A carload of US Naval Sea Cadets were dropped off right in front of me. It was my first time seeing armed military while at the WVA but I occasionally see military with maps and compasses. There is an orienteering course throughout the AHATS. These six guys geared up for a minute or two while the car drove off. Then they walked up to the woods, put some branches and grass about their gear and then disappeared.

The main thing about this encounter is I finally got a photo of bigfoot/sasquatch. As a skeptic, I never believed there was enough evidence to prove it. No if only I could get some scat from it...

Tracking Sasquatch DSC_2135
Tracking Sasquatch DSC_2135
by Mully410 * Images

UPDATE:  Here is a link to the US Naval Sea Cadet Org.  These guy looked a lot older than 11-17 years old so perhaps they were instructors. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Previously at the TCAAP WVA, I Saw a Tom Turkey

Tom Turkey DSC_1713 by Mully410 * Images
Tom Turkey DSC_1713, a photo by Mully410 * Images on Flickr.
Two days ago, I saw a tom turkey with two hens at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area. This guy was displaying off and on for a half hour but the fence was between me and him. Didn't get a descent shot. As he walked off, he stopped one last time to look at me before disappearing into the woods.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Previously at the TCAAP WVA, I saw a buck who knows what you're up to.

This evening was lawn and bird feeder maintenance so I didn't get out to the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area.

Here is a shot of a buck I made on July 18, 2010. The buck I saw a week ago barely had some nubs where his antlers will be in a month or so. I this guy browsing on the other side of the fence...the side that is the Marsden Public Archery Range. I scooted over there on my bike real quick and professionally stalked him. I got about 10 yards away. Oh, he knew I was there but apparently didn't care.

He appears to be winking at me in this shot. If you look super closely just to the left of his winking eyeball, you can see the fly that was bugging him.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I saw a float plane...again.

I've seen this plane fly over the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area a few times. It flew over again tonight. I also saw the swan chasing geese, the river otters and the osprey. (not to mention all the little song birds)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I saw Dead Trees in Sunset

I shoot these trees a lot at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area. This is straight out of camera using the Vivid picture setting.

I also saw the song sparrows, eastern bluebirds, a swan and a pileated woodpecker.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Previously at the TCAAP WVA, I saw light peaking through the clouds.

I didn't get a chance to get to the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area because I was at the opening of Bike Art VI at the Altered Esthetics Gallery. It was fun meeting people and watching some of them enjoying my photo.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bike Art VI Opening Night June 3

Bike Shadow (2)
Bike Shadow (2)
by Mully410 * Images

Come see some great bike related art at the Altered Esthetics gallery in North East Minneapolis.  Opening night is Friday June 3rd from 7-10pm.

Here are the details.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I saw a Momma Bluebird

I've been watching the bluebirds bring food to their nesting can for a week or so now. Tonight, I finally found the patience to focus on the nest. I watched this momma bluebird bring a steady stream of food to the family. She first brought this brightly colored worm/caterpillar, then a spider and finally a beetle of some sort.

The image to the right is not cropped. I was pretty close because I stuck my lens through the gap in the access gate. If you click on the image and select the "older" arrow, you'll see the next shot in the sequence.

I also saw the swan chasing some geese:
Swan and Goose DSC_0712

and a doe walked up:
Doe Twist DSC_0737