Saturday, September 28, 2013

Autumn begins - NW Wisconsin & N. Minnesota

Having said "Good Bye" to friends in NE Wisconsin, we drove west stopping for the night in Buena Vista where evening birds heralded this beautiful sunset.  We then headed north and found a state park we had never visited before - Brunet Island near Cornell on the Chippewa River.

These Trumpeter Swans can be heard calling over the marshlands of Crex Meadows in Western Wisconsin.  Mix in the bugling of hundreds of Sandhill Cranes descending into the refuge and it made a symphony of sound.

Palm Warblers were migrating in great numbers in many of the places we stopped:  Stone Bridge, Pattison State Park, and the Gordon Wildlife Area where we also found 3 Sharp-tailed Grouse.

Our last state destination was Wisconsin Point which juts out into Lake Superior.  Over the years this has been one of our favorite birding hot spots.

Thousands of Ring-billed and Herring Gulls feed in this bay, and this is what brings in the Jaegers from the Arctic as they migrate south.

This spectacular sunrise set the stage for a week long, 10 hour day, jaeger vigil.

This Parasitic Jaeger (one of seven) is exhibiting it's notorious behavior of intimidating the gulls into regurgitating their full crops of food providing a stolen meal.  Another rare treat was three Long-tailed Jaegers that made fly-bys several times.

Every day birders came to the Point to see the fantastic show.  Over 100 people joined the Wisconsin Society of Ornithology's field trip dubbed "Jaegerfest".  It was a fun time seeing both birds and birders.

This Bald Eagle also became part of the bird pageantry stirring up hundreds of gulls from the lake.  Our "Point" list was well over 100 species - the best being: Sabine's, Franklin's, and Lesser Black-backed Gulls; Black & Surf Scoters; Western, Red-necked and Horned Grebes; Common & Red-throated Loons; Merlins and 17 species of warblers.

We crossed the St. Louis River to Duluth and made a stop at Hawk Ridge.  The weather was "too beautiful" for hawk migration but we enjoyed the view from high above.

We drove north to Sax-Zim Bog and spent the night on a deserted road where early morning mist enveloped this handsome bull moose.

On the way northwest to our next Boreal destination, we found a pair of Black-billed Magpies.

Happily we also added Boreal Chickadees, Gray Jays, a Black-backed Woodpecker, Spruce Grouse and Rusty Blackbirds at Pine Island State Forest.

We drove to Red Lake State Recreation Area and Campground where we walked the trails and Ty climbed the 100+ foot fire tower.  On his way down he came eye to eye with this Red-breasted Nuthatch.

This area is part of the 1.3 million acre Big Bog where we walked the 1 mile boardwalk into the Tamarack and Black Spruce habitat with it's complement of unique bog plants.

We concluded our N. Minnesota adventure with a stop at the Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge north of Thief River Falls.  Here we found a wonderful variety of waterfowl, adding several to our year list which now stands at 357.

As we left the refuge, the sunbeams rained through the clouds like a waterfall.  It reminded us that God's light always shines through the darkness.

God's blessing to all,
Ty & Ida Baumann

Monday, September 9, 2013

Enjoying Green Bay

Heading north from our week in Madison, we had a spotted salamander obstacle course east of Goose Pond.  We zig-zagged down the road avoiding all but having to move a couple to the side.

We stopped in Montello to see Ida's mother Betty and sister Ella, who was celebrating her birthday.

After a couple birding stops we reached Green Bay and spent some time on Joan Grant's patio watching the last orioles come to the grape jelly feeder before migrating south.  We joined her for two pre-season Packer games out of the heat in her living room.

Here is one of the five new wolf pups enjoying celebrity status at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary.  It was 1996 when the first pups were born at the sanctuary and they lived a good, long life there.

We joined the Bay Area Bird Club for five bird walks along the Wildlife Sanctuary trails.  It was fun to see everyone again.

This Green Heron entertained the group for several minutes trying to have this frog for breakfast.

In between visiting with friends, we contributed some work time on the grounds of Celebration Church.  They allowed us to park each night while we were in Green Bay.

This Gray Tree Frog was looking a little green around the gills nestled in a barberry bush which received needed pruning.

Sanctuary trails produced 23 warbler species during our 2 1/2 week visit.  This Black-throated Blue Warbler in one of our favorites.  We marked off 100 species of birds at the WLS on those walks.

In between appointments, we spent some time along the bay watching the American White Pelicans, cormorants, Caspian & Forester's Terns fishing.

While the RV was getting it's 60,000 mile checkup, we took a loaner car to Navarino State Wildlife Area.  This small Hog-nose Snake had snuck into the lower level of the beautiful new Nature Center.  We helped get it back out in the wild which I'm sure he was thankful for.

Fall is in the air and the leaves are starting to turn colors.  We are headed north to Superior for a week of watching northern migrants come out of Canada.  The Wisconsin Society of Ornithology will be holding their "Jaegerfest" at that time.

It was so good to see so many friends, if we missed you, we'll try again next September.
God Bless You!
Ty & Ida