Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Daisies and Mt. Josephine

A nice little scene that I passed by on my bike ride last night.  The daisies have come out in force the past week and I really liked the way the sunlight was catching them here. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Sunset Storm

A recent stormy sunset over Lake Superior in Grand Portage, MN.  It had been nice weather all day but in the evening a storm front moved in and it got pretty windy and rained off and on all night.  It was beautiful again the next day.  I love when the weather patterns move like that :-)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Pigeon River Snapping Turtle

One of my favorite things to see each year are the big snapping turtles that come crawling out of the Pigeon River to lay their eggs.  I came across this once recently while driving along Highway 593 on the Ontario side of the river.  The turtle was actually in the middle of the road, so I pulled over to watch it cross over into the grass on the other side.  Once it reached the grass it laid down and sat there for a long time without moving.  I figured it was getting ready to lay eggs so after watching it for a few minutes and taking a few photos I went on my way.  Always a treat to see these guys!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Raven Posse

A group of ravens that I came across recently.  I find that most ravens are incredibly wary and will not let you get very close to them.  It seems they are either like that, or they are super tame.  The really tame ones are rare, though.  This was a unique moment where I stopped my truck alongside the road to watch these guys and they didn't fly away.  I was able to watch them for a few minutes before they decided to leave.  

Monday, June 20, 2016

June Thunderstorm

Here is another lightning photo from last night.  I got thoroughly soaked getting these photos, but I had a blast.  Enduring the wind and rain was so worth it!

Lightning Squall

Lots of fun last night watching one thunderstorm after another roll across Wauswaugoning Bay in Grand Portage, MN!  This photo was made at 10:30 P.M. as one of the strongest of the storms lit up the horizon with lightning.  I like how the lightning is illuminating the sheets of rain falling from the clouds.  

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Above and Beyond

There was some really cool stuff happening over the bay last night.  Beautiful moonlight and thunderstorms rolling through.  Not directly overhead, but above and beyond over the lake. While the lightning flashed overhead, fog drifted past the island.  The entire scene was illuminated by surreal moonlight.  The season of the thunderstorm has definitely arrived!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Summer's Bounty - Flowering Crabapple Tree

This past week sure has been a beautiful one in our yard!  We have 3 flowering crabapple trees in the yard (thanks to my parents for planting them many years ago) and this week they are in the prime of their summer bloom.  Our honeybees (as well as all the native bees) absolutely love them and each day if you walk past one of the trees you'll hear it humming with bee activity.  The waxwings also love them.  They'll hang out in the trees and snack on the flower petals.  We've had a group of them hanging around all week as well, enjoying the blooms just as much (if not more!) than we are. 

Sublime Summer Sunset

A beautiful sunset last night in Ontario, Canada along Highway 593 near the Ontario/Minnesota border.  This color was actually in the northeast sky and occurred about half an hour past the official sunset time.  The color lingered in the sky until just after 10 P.M.  Gotta love our northern latitude summer and the effects it has on things!  And, technically, since I was on the Ontario side of the border (which is on Eastern Standard Time), this photo was actually made at 10:30 P.M. and the color lingered until just after 11:00 P.M. :-)

Friday, June 17, 2016

Apple Tree Waxwing

For the past several days our apple trees have been blooming beautifully and they've been drawing in the waxwings.  The birds love to eat the petals off the blooming flowers.  It sure is a treat to have not only the flowering trees but also the birds hanging around and enjoying them.  Beauty is everywhere in our yard this week!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Robin Nest

We have a nice addition to our yard this year.  A robin has decided to nest on one of the beams underneath our deck!  Jessica noticed the nest a few weeks ago when she was working on some gardening around the yard.  It's a very well-hidden nest, you cannot see it unless you crouch down and peek up underneath the deck.  The beam is about 4 feet off the ground, but the sides of the deck hang down beneath the beam which keeps the nest hidden from view.  Luckily the nest is easily viewable from our basement window and I was able to get a photo of the robin sitting on the nest by shooting from the window.  

Last week I watched for a moment when the adult had left the nest to forage, then I snuck in and used my little Sony RX 100 III camera to get a picture of the eggs inside the nest.  The nest is so close to the deck boards that you cannot see into it, I had to use the tilt screen of the camera in order to get a view of the eggs.  It sure has been fun having the robin around.  We can see it "standing watch" in various places around the yard whenever it is not sitting on the eggs. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Canada Goose Family

The Canada Geese have been rearing their young for a while now.  I took this photo a couple of weeks ago and intended to share it but kind of forgot about it.  This was taken just down the road from our house on Grand Portage Bay along the Lake Superior shoreline.  The babies have grown a lot since I made this picture!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Lazy Fox Kit

Here are a couple more photos of the "laziest" of the three fox kits that we saw yesterday.  This is the same one that was doing the "Superman" pose in the photo that I posted earlier today.  He sure was a cute little bugger!  He hung around outside the den for several minutes after the others went back inside.  Nothing like a warm, sunny day to make you feel content :-)

A lazy afternoon in the sun for the fox kits

Yesterday while driving back home from Grand Marais we had the good fortune of seeing these fox kits right outside their den. We must have come by right after play time as they were just lounging around in the sun in front of the den rather than running around like crazy like they normally are.  One of them decided he was particularly cute as he kept stretching out on his belly with his legs completely sticking out in a "Superman" pose.  

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

After the Rain - High Falls of the Pigeon River

A couple inches of rain fell over the weekend and all of the rivers along Minnesota's north shore of Lake Superior are swollen with run-off!  High Falls of the Pigeon River in Grand Portage State Park is especially dramatic when the water is so high.  The river rose almost 4 feet as a result of the rain!  If you visit on a sunny day you'll be sure to get an awesome view of a rainbow in the mist of the waterfall!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Aurora Arc over Teal Lake

Here is another photo from last night's aurora surprise.  After watching the lights dancing over the pond, we headed back down towards the village with the intent of going home for the night.  As we drove back, however, the lights looked like they might be picking back up in intensity so we decided to head to one more location before calling it a night.  

The lake shown in this photo is called Teal Lake and is easily visible from Highway 61 in Grand Portage, MN.  It makes for a great spot to watch the northern lights as it is an elevated viewpoint with nothing to block the view of the northern sky.  We only had a short time to enjoy the aurora from here, though.  As you can see beneath the arc of light, there is a cloud bank that was fast approaching from the northeast.  It didn't take long for these advancing clouds to obscure the view of the lights.  It was probably a good thing, however, as we both had to be up early in the morning.  Once the clouds blocked the view we called it a night and headed home. 

Surprise Aurora!

Maybe it wasn't really a surprise (meaning the lights last night could have actually been in the space weather forecast) but they were a surprise to us.  Since our forecast had been calling for a strong chance of rain over the weekend, I hadn't paid attention to what was going on with the space weather forecast.  So, imagine our surprise when we stepped outside last night and immediately saw the northern lights dancing in the sky!  It was a welcome surprise for sure.  

The night was mostly clear with just a few clouds here and there.  I was thankful for the 2 inches of rain we received over the weekend, as this pond was absolutely full of water.  Usually when standing in this spot you are looking out over a grassy meadow but last night it looked more like a lake, which made for some sweet reflections of the lights.  The frogs were calling and we heard a beaver slap its tail several times.  At one point when I was standing on the edge of this pond I heard the patter of little footsteps approaching. I looked to my right and saw a small shadowy figure approaching.  A quick look with the flashlight revealed a fox that was just 20 feet away.  Apparently he didn't realize we had been standing there as he had been walking directly toward us!  Once my flashlight beam hit him, he turned and ran the other way.  

It seems like every night when I'm out photographing the aurora it's an unforgettable night in a variety of ways.  Last night it was that way not only because of the lights but also because of the wildlife encounters.  Spending time outdoors at night is my absolute favorite thing to do.  I always come home with good memories to think back on :-)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Purple Martins

During our recent visit to Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area in Crosby/Ironton, MN  we came across a unique bird that neither of us had seen before: Purple Martin.  I had never even heard of these birds before.  Apparently they are rather rare in Minnesota.  We drove in to the Portsmouth Campground just to check it out and were surprised to see two large bird condos on one end of the campground.  The condos were absolutely loaded with birds.  An interpretive sign said they were Purple Martins, which migrate to Minnesota from Brazil.  There was a large hill behind the condos that was mowed and the birds were constantly flying back and forth from their condos to the mowed hill.  It appeared as though they were hunting dragonflies.  I captured the flight shot as one of the Martins was returning to its condo.  The vocalizations of these birds were super interesting.  They sure were a lot of fun to watch and listen to!

"Wildlife in your Viewfinder"

If you missed our conversation on the radio the other night, here is the archived online version for you to listen at your convenience.

On Thursday, June 2nd I was live on the air in Grand Marais, MN with 3 friends and fellow photographers as part of WTIP's First Thursday Community Conversations program.  Paul Sundberg, Tom Spence, Dave Brislance and myself got together to talk about cameras and our experiences photographing wildlife.

Click on the link below to listen to our conversation:


In the photo above that I took during the program, you can see Paul Sundberg demonstrating the use of his moose call (which can be heard about 41 minutes into the program).  

Friday, June 3, 2016

Cuyuna Country Trip

Above: Jessica riding through the beautiful forest along the "Boot Camp" Trail.

We just returned from a super-fun trip to Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area!  What a cool place!  If you like mountain biking and haven't been here yet, you need to go. The trails are awesome and loads of fun!  We also recommend staying in one of the yurts that the park has.  What a fun way to camp and some of the trails run through the woods right behind the yurts so you can ride right from your door!  It was an unforgettable weekend of fun with my amazing wife Jessica :-)

Above: Jessica cruising the curves of the Little Sidewinder Trail.

I know some of you are probably missing my normal nature photo posts.  I do apologize for that.  I've loved riding bikes my entire life but this year I've been bitten by the biking bug harder than usual and lately it's all I've been doing.  I still take pictures, they just aren't always the posts you may be used to seeing.  I do hope that you've enjoyed seeing some photos from our biking adventures and I promise that more nature photos are coming soon!  


Above: Beautiful spring green on the Little Sidewinder Trail!

Above: Bobsled Trail.  I could have ridden up and down this trail all day long... it was my favorite :-)

Above: Bobsled Trail


Above: Manuel Drive Trail

Above: Sidewinder Trail

Above: Not all of the trails at Cuyuna are technical singletrack.  The trails in the Sagamore Unit are more flat and open, rolling through a nice mixture of fields and forest.  The paved Cuyuna Country State Trail is an option as well.

Above: The Manganese Yurt, our home during our stay at Cuyuna.

Above: The yurt interiors are quite nice!