Friday, March 30, 2012

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I Saw a Song Sparrow Straddling a Mullein

This very friendly song sparrow hung around pretty close by while I was at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area tonight. The sun was setting off to camera left which had the birds face and eye in shadow. Since this little bird was cooperating, I grabbed my SB-700 and held it off camera high and to the left to fill the light in a little.

I saw my first loon of the year on Lake Marsden. I also saw a pair of trumpeter swans, three cormorants, the bluebird pair, some tree swallows and grabbed a chickadee in the fence shot.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Previously at the TCAAP WVA, I Saw a Phoebe on Mullein

Eastern phoebes are frequent visitors to the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area. I find it fun to watch them hunt for bugs.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Previously at the TCAAP WVA, I Saw Beavers

Ever since I confirmed (for myself) that there were beavers in Lake Marsden, I've been seeing them pretty regularly.

Here is a shot right at sunset of one of them.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I Saw Bluebirds Housekeeping

A pair of eastern bluebirds haven't yet decided which of the two nest boxes to choose at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area. I can't quite see inside this one from the angles available so I kind of hope they chose the other one...but that one is crooked.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I Saw More Cranes

I saw seven sandhill cranes fly over Lake Marsden tonight at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area. These ones looked like they were planning to land but I didn't see what the decided. I sure hope some of them land and nest again this year.

This might be my favorite silhouette of the old TCAAP water tower. The red-winged blackbird did his territorial call from the top of the tree for about 20 minutes before it flew off.

Blackbird and Watertower-1295.jpg

Friday, March 23, 2012

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I Saw a Chickadee on a Wire

I made it out to the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area tonight for the summer like weather. There wasn't much excitement out there other than I was out there enjoying being out there.

Here is a shot of chickadee singing on the barbed-wire that surrounds the area. If you know chickadees, you know how quick you have to be to capture them with a camera.

I also saw:  a pair of bluebirds, some song sparrows, a crow, a harrier and a pretty cool sunset.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Previously Near the TCAAP WVA, I Made a Cover Photo

Swift House DSC_1540 by Mully410 * Images

Swift House DSC_1540, a photo by Mully410 * Images on Flickr.
(cross post from my other blog)

This photo was selected for the cover of the Minnesota National Guard - Camp Ripley Training Center and Arden Hills Army Training Site - 2011 Conservation Program Report. It's my first cover.

I donated the photo to the guard last year. My guard friend, Mary, said that photos from Camp Ripley usually get selected. This cover is a little bit more special because I made the photo at the Arden Hills Army Training Site.

It's a chimney swift house. From

A "flying cigar," the Chimney Swift is rarely seen perched. Its high-pitched twittering is a familiar sound during summertime in the city as it flies high above, catching small flying insects.
The swifts fly into the top and nest inside somehow...just like a chimney.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Previously Near the TCAAP WVA, I Saw Building 543

Back in August, I had a chance to photograph in the Arden Hills Army Training Site. This is a small guard shack near Lexington Avenue next to the old grenade firing pin testing range. It is no longer there. They cleared out this building and the main building near it over the winter.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Previously Near the TCAAP WVA, I Saw a Chickadee on Cattail

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you know that black-capped chickadees are my favorite bird. I love how they travel in purposeful groups and work an area and move on. They are very quick, never staying on a perch for more than a few seconds.

Last weekend, I got to photograph some on cattails. I was staked out on the edge of Lake Marsden when a group of 4 chickadees came through.  Most of the cattails in front of me were already in the afternoon shade so I focused on the spots that still had sunlight and waited.

This chickadee worked over a half a dozen cattails. I wonder if it found food or if it was looking for soft material for a nest.

Chickadee on Cattail-0936.jpg

Chickadee on Cattail-0914.jpg

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Today Near the TCAAP WVA, I Saw (and heard) Eastern Meadowlarks

The eastern meadowlarks were quite noisy today so slowly drove by the noise over and over until I managed to get a couple shots with not entirely awful light.

I also saw:  eastern phoebe, northern harrier, red-tailed hawks, northern pintail, ring-necked ducks, hooded mergansers, common mergansers, trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes, bald eagles, red-winged blackbirds, black-capped chickadees, song sparrows, tree sparrows, eastern bluebirds, American robins, Canada geese, pileated woodpecker, blue jay...
Eastern Meadowlark-0727.jpg

Today Near the TCAAP WVA, I Saw A Beaver Eating

I staked out the beaver lodge in the morning and the afternoon. At the end of the day, one of the beavers put on a show by eating a tree branch in good view of my camera.  Below is an HD video...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Today Near the TCAAP WVA, I Saw a Kestrel on a Wire

I got spend some time in the AHATS tonight and it was a big night of firsts for me. Although the clouds didn't sync with the photo ops, I had lots of fun.

The bird on the right is an American Kestrel. I saw a pair of males hunting from the power polls and lines. They are usually very skittish and don't let even a car pull up very close. This one was true to form but when I got out of the truck, it came back with what looked like a skink or snake. The light was awful but I had to document the birds. I'll be posting the sighting on The Raptor Center's website because they track these birds in particular.

The most exciting part of the evening was seeing two beavers.  I was told they were around and saw their lodge up close this winter.  The sun was long gone behind the hills so this shot is very noisy and icky.  I saw five swans on the lake tonight.  These two didn't care for the beaver.  At one point, the beaver slapped it's tail and dove under one of the floating bogs.

Two Swans and a Beaver_9666.jpg

I also saw two muskrats grooming each other.  Didn't get a decent shot though but it was fun seeing them.

I accidentally surprised a red-tailed hawk so it let out the classic scream at me as it flew away.  I've heard it countless times in movies and on TV (mostly associated with the wrong bird...dumb Hollywood) but there's nothing like hearing it person knowing it's directed at you.

These two deer were in a group of three...also very dark and high ISO but I like the pose and composition.  I got a decent photo of a male eastern bluebird.  And got a shot of my nemesis coming in for a landing in nice light. 

Lastly, the sun looked really amazing just before it set.

Giant Sunset_9587.jpg

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I Saw My First Bluebird of the Year

Bluebird_9328.jpg by Mully410 * Images
Bluebird_9328.jpg, a photo by Mully410 * Images on Flickr.
A pair of bluebirds stopped by the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area tonight. They are the first ones I've seen this year. This male is perched on one of the two bluebird houses...this one needs to be straightened a bit.

I also saw five sandhill cranes fly by and my first great blue heron of the year.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I Saw Birds

Merganser_9170.jpg by Mully410 * Images
Merganser_9170.jpg, a photo by Mully410 * Images on Flickr.
I rarely see mergansers at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area but I saw some tonight. The ice is about 25% out on Lake Marsden. I'm especially excited for the next few days as the ice recedes more. It's the best time of year to see the river otters.

I also see many "firsts" when I'm out at the WVA. Tonight was no different. I saw the biggest airplane I've ever seen fly by. An Antonov:


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I Saw A Goose Fight

I heard a commotion out by the beaver lodge at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area. There were three Canada geese fighting. If you look closely you might be able to see two trumpeter swans just to the left of the beaver lodge. That's kind of weird. Usually the trumpters will chase geese out of the lake. I suppose they aren't yet nesting so are kind of relaxed.

I also saw a group of seven trumpters fly over towards the gravel pit. Didn't see any mammals and only saw a couple red-winged blackbirds, crows, goldfinches and one downy woodpecker.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Today at the TCAAP WVA, I Saw a Chickadee on Bluebird House

Today I saw lots of chickadees at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area. This one was checking out the bluebird nesting can.

This one landed on the bridge briefly.Exit Stage Left_8842.jpg

This one stopped on a post.

Chickadee Survey_8837.jpg

Lastly, this swan hates geese, as do I. It flew over the lake and chased one goose all the way across the lake and out of sight. I'm not sure why it picked that goose.


I saw my first eastern bluebirds of the year on the west side of the AHATS in Rice Creek Regional Park.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Previously at the TCAAP WVA, I Saw Susans in the Sun

The TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area is filled with wildflowers. There is a great variety so something is blooming nearly all summer. I made this photograph on July 10, 2010 when the entire area was covered in flowers. I pays to visit the same place frequently.

I often say that I see something new everyday at the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area.

Here is some Butterfly Weed. There are quite a few large clumps of this flower scattered around this small area. This shot was made on June 23, 2010.

Butterfly Weed_DSC_4302.jpg

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Previously at the TCAAP WVA, I Saw a Butterfly

Fritillary DSC_5918 by Mully410 * Images
Fritillary DSC_5918, a photo by Mully410 * Images on Flickr.
It's going to be awhile before the butterflies reach the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area but I saw a few photos on my new Wildlife Photography Facebook Group and was inspired to post one.

This is a great spangled fritillary feeding on a  monarda (aka...bee balm) flower. It's the only one I've seen at the TCAAP WVA. This one was a little beat up. I hope it got to mate and make more.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Previously at the TCAAP WVA, I Saw a Fiery Feather

With the change from standard time to daylight savings time, I'll be able to get out to the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area more often after work. I can't wait.

I made this shot with the D5000 back in June of 2010. I've been thinking about this crow feather for a few days and finally figured out what to do with it. I stuck it in a crack in the bridge and aligned the sunset behind it. I only wish I would have been there when the crow lost this feather. Was it a fight or some sort of molting action?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Previously Near the TCAAP WVA, I Saw a Coyote Run Away

I revisited some coyote shots from the Arden Hills Army Training Site today. Now that I'm using Ligthtroom, I wanted to see what it could do. The coyote is very backlit and the in camera shot was way details in the coyote. With about 5 minutes of fiddling, I recovered some of the detail. Still not good enough for a decent print but good enough for me for documentation.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Previously at the TCAAP WVA, I Saw Lighting and Shelf Cloud

This nasty looking shelf cloud approached the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area back on July 1, 2011. There was a lot of lightning but this is the only shot I got of it. I was too scared to haul out the tripod. As a severe weather spotter, I knew it wasn't very smart hanging out where I was...outside the car, in a high spot, due to the lightning. The clouds were pretty scary looking but I didn't see any rotation or wall clouds.

I've learned so much about photography since then and hope I get the opportunity to shoot clouds like this again soon. It was tricky holding the camera steady against the bridge with a 1.6 sec shutter.