Sunday, January 31, 2010

I Love Redpolls

We spent another day at Hasty Brook on Saturday. The temperature was still only 11 below when we got there. The birds were going crazy at the feeders and the four full thistle socks I had left a week before were empty. While Art went into the building to get the heaters going I started to fill the feeders. There was a good sized flock of Common Redpolls on the ground. When I approached they flew up into the trees but as soon as I opened the thistle bag they dropped back down and 4-5 of them landed on my head! Chickadees have landed on me before but these little Redpolls are usually more skittish so these little fluttering birds caught me by surprise. It was brutally cold so I finished filling and scattered plenty of thistle and oilers on the ground and headed indoors.
The photo above was taken upstairs through the patio doors. I sprinkled seed on the balcony railing and within minutes the birds came. This pretty little Redpoll was all of five feet away from me. Come on up and sip coffee with me and watch the birds.
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Friday, January 22, 2010

January Rocks in Minnesota

I'm not a New Year's resolution gal but I am going to try to change a few things. One of those changes to to get out and DO more. Another forward change is that we're going to get up to Hasty Brook more. We've got this wonderful building but it has no inside finished. We have LOTS of work to do to get the upstairs comfy and livable. Our Good Neighbor has been kind enough to keep our long driveway plowed so every other weekend, regardless of the temperature, we've gone to Hasty. Last Saturday we got up there in mid-morning. The first bird (other than the bazillion Chickadees) that I saw was a Northern Shrike. Shrikes are easy enough to find in northern Minnesota but this one was the first here- Yard Bird! This Shrike was not bothered by our presence and stayed in the area all day. It would fly between the other side of the creek and a birch snag over the feeders. I guess there were plenty of little snacks for the Shrike!
I love this photo even though the background makes my eyes wiggle.

My next new yard bird was this Bald Eagle. I see Eagles most every trip to Hasty but this was the first one that was "parked" there.

Last Tuesday evening Good Neighbor Mark called to tell me that they had a Varied Thrush coming to their feeders. I made a quick plan to drive up on Thursday. Wednesday morning when I heard the crummy freezing rain forecast for Thursday I knew I just had to drop my plans and get up there right away. When I got up there Renee was home and graciously invited me in! I spent the next two hours warm and comfy, sipping coffee with Renee, watching the Varied Thrush and waiting for the bird to drop down into the sun so I could get a good photo.
Lifer! And such a pretty bird. Thank you Renee and Mark.

This picture needs a caption.

I had about a million things to do today but a quick check on Facebook led me to a black bear den web-cam at the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minnesota. Lily the black bear mama was in labor and I was hooked. I watched her belly contract and listened to her huff. After a bit I heard the tiny squeak of the baby! I don't know which sound moved me more- the teeny tiny baby bear sounds or the soft huffs and grunts of mama. Finally I put the laptop down so I could get moving on my chores and errands. I glanced out the window to check the bird status in the back yard and something different caught my eye. It looked like dry leaves were spilling out of the Wood Duck box entrance. I kind of assumed that the army of gray squirrels had finally moved in but grabbed my binoculars anyway.
It was a Screech Owl!!
LIFER in my yard!
I grabbed the camera and fired off some shots.
(I have GOT to wash the windows.)
The photos were grainy at best.
I threw a quick post onto Facebook and called Art.
(I think he though I'd had a stroke or something...)
I called Susan and fluttered and babbled on about this amazing owl.
She understood me.
I NEEDED a better picture.
So I quietly slid the window up a few inches-
and cut a big hole in the screen!!
I've never heard a Screech Owl in this neighborhood before.
Maybe I'll try and call it in with my Birdjam (Hi Jay!)
So what do you think? Two lifers in January in Minnesota!
I think it's going to be a very good year.
Sunset at a tamarack bog.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Great Gray Owl Video

Check out this amazing video of two Great Gray Owls in northern Minnesota. The video was taken by Sparky Stensaas yesterday evening in the Sax Zim Bog.
It's another great year for owls in northern Minnesota.
I am registered for my third trip to the 2010 Sax Zim Bog Festival of Birds. Ruthie is joining me again this year. There is still room for all of the field trips so if you're tempted, check out the festival website.