Sunday, February 24, 2013

Michaela's 6th Birthday

Michaela's kindergarten class celebrates birthdays in a different manner, which inspired this post.  They have a picture of Michaela at each age with a short caption of who she was then.  Below is the poster from class, after that a few picture remembering her birthdays with links to past posts when available.

1 Day Old

1 Year Old

2 Years Old

3 Years Old

4 Years Old

5 Years Old

6 Years Old

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sunny February Day in Winona

Christine took the girls north to visit family, as there was no school Friday or Monday for them.  Unfortunately I was unable to travel with, having classes on Friday and Monday. I took the camera with into town, and with a sunny calm day I was able to enjoy the views around Winona.

I started at Prairie Island Park to see the male Bufflehead. By walking only when the duck dove under water I was able to sneak down to the waters edge without disturbing him. The sun was not compliant for taking great pictures, but it was awesome watching the bird's posture change as he preened, dove, and continually moved around.

After twenty minutes of laying on a log I caught a dark object out of the corner of my eye. I expected to see a crow on the spillway, but was surprised by this little guy coming down to take a drink instead.

The raccoon appears to be looking at me while he is walking down the spillway, but I believe he was unable to figure out what I was or rather was just scanning the area ahead. When the raccoon was about 20 feet away I decided to move and interrupt the jaunt. While quite common, they are not often seen in broad daylight unless sick.  While it would have been awesome to watch him walk right under me, the possibility of a rabies bite made me reconsider.  This last photo is the original size of the photo with a 300mm lens. 

I decided it was probably time for me to head into town to finish errands. I left the Bufflehead in the same location as he started, continually diving, and the raccoon siting in the shade under the tree I had used just minutes earlier. After the necessary errands I went looking for the immature Black-crowned Night Herons that have overwintered along Shive Road. The mallards, belted kingfisher, and herons didn't disappoint.

I love the dark blue reflection of the clear sky on this picture of the heron. With the warm weather and open water they were in a different location that afforded closer photos while remaining in my Jeep.

Now that I am done having fun editing photos, posting this blog, and remembering this morning it is time to go replace parts on the toilet!  Have a great day everyone.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Yesterday I joined the La Crosse Audubon Society in search of Boreal species in the Northwoods. I absolutely loved observing the various species, the time spent with other birders, and the peace of mind that comes when you force yourself to do nothing other than enjoy the moment.

The group left La Crosse early in the morning and headed toward Clam Lake, searching roads along the way for Grosbeaks, Gray Jays, Bohemian Waxwings, Northern Shrikes, Crossbills, and Hoary Redpolls.  With many of the targeted species seen along the way, the group decided to chase the reports of Boreal Owls north of Duluth.

Along the way we stopped in Poplar Wisconsin and saw a Northern Hawk Owl that has regularly been seen this winter.  This was the first time I've seen this species anywhere, and even though the bird was a looooooong ways away I still took pictures :)  To the left is four pictures stitched together as the bird dropped off its perch.

Boreal OwlJust north of Duluth we ran into birders observing a Boreal Owl. The group piled out of the vehicles and got nice views of the rare visitor from the north. As a group birders are wonderful! Birders share their observations and insight openly and are genuinely concerned and respect nature. On this day a birder was willing to take our group to a location where he had previously seen another Boreal owl. What a wonderfully kind gentleman that lived nearby.

One the way I spotted another Boreal owl. It was a different bird that had not yet been spotted by anyone that we knew of, and half the group saw before it flew off. Luckily the last bird was in the same spot and gave everyone close views of it hunting.  The group turned into owl paparazzi and relished in the awesomeness of enjoying the species together.

We quickly visited the Superior Wisconsin airport and saw a snowy owl near last light.  The snowy owl was the third owl species for the day, and these species were lifers (first observance of the species) for many in the group.(Note the picture is from a different owl last year.)
Snowy Owl

I would describe myself as a birder of convenience and location, as I often will look for birds where ever we happen to be but without much emphasis put on the species themselves.  While I definitely love the outdoors, nature, and especially birds I realize that I face trade-offs with every decision. Are the additional miles worth possibly seeing a new species, is my time birding away from family more important than time with the girls and Christine, and perhaps most troubling is whether my love for nature worth the extra cost associated with my actions while pursuing it. Occasionally I've convinced Christine to take a small detour along our way for a birding location, but in the past six years of birding these excursions have been small in numbers. At the end of the day I wonder what one person can do, if there is a socially accepted answer, and if these internal questions are asked due to personal ethics and the ability to sleep at night.  While I doubt I will end of chasing birds on a regular basis this coming year, I did enjoy it at least for one day.