New website coming & new images!

After too many months of promises, I will be holding true to my word with a new website. I hope as soon as next week it will be active and will FINALLY be accessible for all electronic mobile devices. My present website uses Adobe’s Flash player for the photo galleries and they will not display on iPhones and iPads but the new site will remedy that situation. As well, I will be adding new galleries for birds and wildlife along with new imagery in the landscape gallery. Here are a few of the forthcoming images – feel free to click on any image for a larger version.



red-headed woodpecker – the flag bird

I grew up seeing red-headed woodpeckers as a matter of course. Its loud “queeerp” call always beckoned a search for it. I even remember its nickname as the flag bird – red, white and deep navy blue. Over the last fifty years they have declined on an average of 2% per year – a cumulative decline of 70%, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Their decline is due mostly in the past half-century to habitat loss and changes to its food supply. The following is from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology –

“Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 1.2 million, with 99% spending part of the year in the U.S., and 1% in Canada. The species rates a 13 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Red-headed Woodpecker is on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action. The species is also listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.”

As well, here are some “cool facts” from the Cornell Lab –

  • The striking Red-headed Woodpecker has earned a place in human culture. Cherokee Indians used the species as a war symbol, and it makes an appearance in Longfellow’s epic poem The Song of Hiawatha, telling how a grateful Hiawatha gave the bird its red head in thanks for its service.
  • Pleistocene-age fossils of Red-headed Woodpeckers—up to 2 million years old—have been unearthed in Florida, Virginia, and Illinois.
  • The Red-headed Woodpecker was the “spark bird” (the bird that starts a person’s interest in birds) of legendary ornithologist Alexander Wilson in the 1700s.

Red-headed woodpecker 1 WEB

Red-headed woodpecker 2 WEB

Red-headed woodpecker in flight 1 WEB

Red-headed woodpecker in flight 2 WEB


Timeless rite of spring – sandhill cranes

Last week I was south of the Twin Cities driving the backroads around Vermillion, MN. While the sightings were sparse I did get to hear and see a dozen or so Sandhill Cranes fly over and saw several in a field too far off for a decent photograph. But it reminded me of a trip years ago to the Platte River in Nebraska where the timeless spectacle of the Sandhill Crane migration takes place. What follows are photographs of mine but the text is an excerpt from http://www.nebraskaflyway.com

Each spring, something magical happens in the heart of the Great Plains. More than 80 percent of the world’s population of Sandhill Cranes converge on Nebraska’s Platte River valley—a critical sliver of threatened habitat in North America’s Central Flyway. Along with them come millions of migrating ducks and geese in the neighboring rainwater basins. The cranes come to rest and refuel for a month as they prepare for the arduous journey to vast breeding grounds in Canada, Alaska and Siberia. They arrive from far-flung wintering grounds in northern Mexico, Texas and New Mexico on an epic journey of thousands of miles.

For centuries they have come to rest and restore themselves. The shallow braided channels of Nebraska’s Platte River provide safe nighttime roost sites. Waste grain in crop fields provides food to build up depleted fat reserves needed for migration. Adjacent wet meadows provide critical nutrients and secluded loafing areas for rest, bathing and courting. During their stop in Nebraska, cranes gain nearly 10 percent of their body weight.

There is no question: The arrival of the cranes on the Platte River—and the millions of other migratory birds that visit each spring—is one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on the continent. NOTE: You can enlarge any image on the blog simply by clicking on the image.

Sandhill crane dawn 3 Platte WEB

Sandhill cranes WEB

Sandhill crane flying Platte WEB

Sandhill flying Platte WEB

Sandhills in flight 3 Platte WEB

Geese in flight 2 Platte WEB

Sandhill crane silhouette WEB

Cranes over Platte River WEB



While meandering south of Saint Paul last week, I came upon a merlin actively hunting a small roadside field. It tolerated my presence for about 20 minutes and then disappeared into a distant thicket of pine trees where I suspect it had a nest. I felt very fortunate to get any shots of the bird in flight given its fast and erratic flight. I learned recently that their name comes from the French word esmirillon meaning “lady hawk.” During the days of Medieval falconry all female falcons were referred to as “merlins.” Noblewomen, especially, used merlins to hunt skylarks.  NOTE: You can enlarge any image on the blog simply by clicking on the image.

Merlin 1 WEB


Merlin in flight 2 WEB


Merlin 2 WEB


Merlin in flight 1 WEB


Red-tailed hawk – three in one

On a recent morning dog walk through Como Park I was lucky enough to spot this Red-tailed hawk in a nearby tree. It allowed me to get fairly close and to take a series of shots against an overcast sky which provided an ideal background for combining three of the better shots into one. NOTE: You can enlarge any image on the blog simply by clicking on the image.

Hawk x 3 WEB


Flights of Fancy • Trumpeter swans on the Mississippi River

In this in-between time of late winter coming into spring, the landscape isn’t always so picturesque. So at some friends’ invitation, I went with them to Monticello to see the Trumpeter Swans that winter over there. The warm water that is discharged by the power plant keeps the river open and hundreds of waterfowl are easily seen from the banks of the Mississippi River. On a cold and very windy day, the ducks, geese and swans were very active and it made for a challenging diversion from the often slower-paced and methodical shooting of the landscape. NOTE: You can enlarge any image on the blog simply by clicking on the image.

Swans in flight 2 WEB copy

Swans in flight 1 WEB

Swans in flight 3 WEB

Swans in flight 4 WEB

Swan in flight 1 WEB


Record snowfall for February 2 in Minnesota

Before the last available light of the afternoon disappeared, I was able to make a quick trip down to Como Park during the peak of the record-breaking storm.  I spent more time trying to keep snow off the front of my lens than I did taking pictures. NOTE: You can enlarge any image on the blog simply by clicking on the image.

Feb storm 2 WEB copy

Feb storm 1 WEB copy

Feb storm 7 WEB copy