Monday, August 21, 2017


Yesterday we went on an outing on Albert Lea Lake with friends on a pontoon with a grille and beer cooler. It was a good afternoon. 😊

Fellow boaters. Really, really classic boaters. The only other boat we saw on the lake all afternoon.
The city of Albert Lea is wedged between Fountain Lake and Albert Lea Lake. We live on the outer reaches of Fountain Lake, which is more or less an urban puddle. On the other hand Albert Lea Lake is a fairly big piece of rural water - between 2,500 and 3,000 acres. Yesterday we were out with friends on a large pontoon on A.L. (equipped with a smoldering charcoal grille - pork loin, potatoes, corn on the cob, etc - and a large cooler of assorted craft beer). 

There were some Eagles soaring overhead and miscellaneous waterfowl, but mostly smart talk with friends, and White Pelicans! There are a lot of first year Pelicans on A.L. Pelicans in the water; Pelicans in the air. Hundreds? Thousands? Probably several hundred, but jeez, way too many to count. Way too many to photograph without a wider angle lens than I have.

 Good to be on Minnesota water with friends,  - Gunnar

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Fall Warblers Coming Through

I have had a Yellow Warbler around the past few days. Probably an immature local bird. No sighting today. A shot from a couple days ago.

Here are some shots from late this afternoon of some migrators. Fall Warblers are sometimes a little difficult to I.D., not as straight forward as they are in their breeding trim.

Tennessee Warbler

Female Redstart (and a Tennessee Warbler photo bomb).

Black and White Warbler peeking through the leaves. It never came really came out for a decent photo op.

Magnolia Warbler

I do tend to ignore the locals. Here are a couple, among others, that snuck in front of the camera

We are taking a boat trip with friends tomorrow on Albert Lea Lake, our BIG LAKE! I will try to remember to take a camera just in case.

 Sweet weather today - Gunnar

Friday, August 4, 2017

Too Many Flowers (and a Warbler)

Checking the state of the far reaches of my vast estate this morning I walked down the weed garden path to update the headcount of flowers and butterflies. Among the smaller butterflies there was a single large Yellow Swallowtail feeding, wings flat to the sun to raise its metabolism to an efficient operating range. A very pretty bug. I had a camera with me, but the flower jungle is about eye level and peeking through the flowers it was difficult to get a clear shot of it without a ladder and all the photos would have been edge shots.  Eventually it settled in an open area, lifted its wings and I took a couple of photos.

Later I spent part of the afternoon cutting up some boards from the scrap pile behind the shed to build a rough bench for the Growlery entry area. Okay, I spent most of the day - and I only got a good running start on the project. Pacing myself. While I was "resting" (again) there was a flash of yellow in the tree above, not typical Goldfinch color and motion, but Warbler type flitting and yellow tone. It caught my attention so I laid my camera in my lap just in case the bird actually showed itself. Eventually it dropped out of the leafy foliage and I got some shots. I am calling "female or first year Yellow Warbler". This is a somewhat educated guess and I will not defend the call under any circumstance. Whatever, it was a good bird.

Either an enormous bird, or a small bird and a very small dwarf hosta. 

Still a bench warmer - Gunnar the B.

Goldfinch Bath

Some birds stop my little stream by to get a drink of water, maybe dip their toes in and splash a little at the edges. The Goldfinch really go for it. They jump in, soak and splash. Often times they will hop out, fluff dry and feather tend in the sun - then cannonball back in and do it all over again. It must feel really good.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Santa Ana NWR Trump Wall

For the past five years we have spent our winters in Alamo, Texas, less than ten miles north of the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is a major reason why we selected this location. 

Much, likely most, of the property along the border is privately owned. As the Federal Government already owns this land it would not be required to use eminent domain acquire the property. Therefore, someone who has likely never seen it, selected it as the site for the first section of the proposed Trump wall. The proposed wall will bisect the refuge and pretty much destroy it. 

Except for the last photo, these are typical photos I shot in the past couple of years. The last photo from two years ago is a first year Northern Jacana, a Central American or Caribbean bird which drifted north - a "life bird" for me and virtually anyone else who were lucky enough to see it.   

- Gunnar   :-(

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Warbler Showing

It was hot and humid this afternoon, so after dividing and transplanting some Hostas (never ending) and Irises, I sat in my chair in the shade of the Growlery with a camera in my lap. There was a intermittent progression of bathing birds escaping the heat. Occasionally I would shoot a couple of pictures, just because I had a camera and there were birds in front of it so I pulled the trigger. Just because. Chickadees, Wrens, Robins, Chipping Sparrows, Goldfinches, etc - all the usual suspects. There are so many Goldfinches that I have to refill the thistle-seed tube feeder twice a week.


Cardinal, female, very wet


Earlier this afternoon I had been wondering to myself why all those Warblers migrated through our yard and none stayed in Oakwood, not even those that should be nesting here. 

Then another female Goldfinch quietly slipped into the shadows of the upper stream. Wait, that isn't a Goldfinch! It is a Yellow Warbler. Actually Yellow Warblers and Goldfinches do not even look alike, except they are both small and yellow. How many times have I glanced at a Yellow Warbler and not really seen it?  

Gunnar, open your eyes! Er ... open your eye!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Late, Great Strix varia

Strix the harbinger
guards the life gate, asking all, 
Whooo will pass this night?

At 1410 we normally sleep with our ears to an open window. Often shortly before dawn when we are floating out of sleep and about to hit the morning shore, we are awaken suddenly by the hooting calls of the Oakwood Barred Owls calling back and forth between mates - “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?”, or the screeching challenges to that pair of owlish interlopers who live across the bay in Oakhurst.

This weekend word came down from the Oakwood children that there was a dead owl beneath the playpark swings. It was a Barred Owl, wings at its side, not a feather askew. Of course Lorna retrieved the deceased bird body, and of course she bagged it up and put it in the freezer (next to the ice cream bars) - which is technically illegal I suppose "collecting wildlife for the purpose of ... " and more than a little creepy. 

The feathers are destined to dropped off at the Root River Rod Company to be tied into fishing flies (Dunns or Cahills?) - another illegality I imagine.

How did it die? Likely by natural causes, but the theory I like best is that it inadvertently called out it's own name and stricken, fell from the tree, stone dead before it hit the ground. It would seem to be the only logical explanation.

Breaking laws left and right. 

Ask not for whom the owl calls; it hoots for thee. - Gunnar

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Chipping Sparrow Bathing

Some species of birds seem to love splashing about in the water and will take a long bath, shake it off and hop back in again - sometimes a number of times. My little stream has a series of four mini dams creating varying depth shallow pools for bathing options. I have been surprised at how the small birds often prefer very shallow water - shallow, like 1/8". 

"1410 Oakwood, Keeping the Bird World Clean For 30 years" - Gunnar

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Cedar Waxwings

(and one black Gray Squirrel). A few shots of birds feeding in one of our Serviceberry trees this afternoon.

A beautiful afternoon, - Gunnar

Thursday, June 22, 2017

"Ordinary" Oakwood Birds

Sometimes some things are so common we just don't appreciate how wonderful they really are.

Mid-afternoon yesterday I sat down in a chair outside the Growlery with a good beer, a cheap cigar and my camera. The following birds showed up in the next hour of two. There was also a Crow for a wingbeat, but I did not get a photograph. Earlier, maybe it was yesterday, Lorna took a photo of a pair of Waxwings in the stream. So far I have not been that fortunate, though admittedly she spends a lot more time camera chasing than I do. There are other birds in the yard - House Finches, Great-crested Flycatcher, Phoebes, Least Flycatchers and others - four species of Woodpeckers, for instance, that just don't seem to use the water. And things we hear but seldom see - Barred Owls, a couple of days ago a Black-crowned Night Heron was squawking down by the lake. 

The first photo is a little piece of the surrounding habitat. It may look woodsy, but a lot of the plants are not native. Most of the plants were transplanted from my main garden. Some of the hostas, an interest of mine I suppose, are two or three inch mature plants which seem in scale here.

Chipping Sparrow, adult and immature

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow, immature, one week out of the nest.

The sun was coming and going all the time so the light settings were a little iffy. When the Catbird showed up the light was perfect. I am posting three photos, because I think they were the best of the day. A great bird. Or at least a very good bird.

House Wren

 Fireflies first showed up last night. Summer Solstice, right on schedule. ;-)   - Gunnar