Friday, June 13, 2014

Grobschmidt Park 3 - Red Neck Picnic

Yesterday I had an impromptu picnic at Grobschmidt park on the way home from the store. A cool front had just passed taking the fairly high humidity with it, so it was about 75 degrees and partly cloudy. Very few mosquitoes or ticks as well, so it was quite pleasant.

Mud Lake - Grobschmidt Park
Mud Lake - Grobschmidt Park
The brush and reeds around the lake are really getting taller now, making access to the water more difficult. I have a feeling that the waterfowl are starting their early summer molt now, spending much of their time hiding in the reeds, so few ducks are to be found anyway. There was a Great Egret out on the island, but that was about it out there.

'The Pier'
The 'pier' is underwater ... simply a plank some fishmen brought out here to help gain access to the water. Other than this, the 'beach' on the other side is the only easy access to the water without getting your feet wet, and the 'beach' isn't much to talk about either. Bad for people, great for wildlife!

View from the 'pier'.

painted turtle laying eggs
Painted Turtle
I ride my bicycle to here, but once here, I try to walk everywhere. Sometimes I ride the trail, but if I do, then I WILL miss things ... such as this midland Painted Turtle laying eggs right next to the path. I noticed a number of similar holes along here and had I not seen this turtle, I wouldn't have known what they were for. So, according to Wikipedia, come August, I'll have to start looking for little ones!

After lunch, I packed up and slowly walked up the trail towards the two marshes to see if I could find any other turtles. Down at marsh level, there is a trickle of water that crosses the path. It runs most of the year, and here's what I saw there.

So, when you're riding your MTB through the woods, splashing through the streams, and you think you're soaking up all this nature ... think again. You're missing more than you think!

Other sightings included a Baltimore Oriole, but few other notable birds. This cool mushroom (looks like a great place to hide in a rainstorm if you're a bug).

Speaking of bugs, here's a yellow Bumble Bee I was able to capture, and I also saw two Monarch Butterflies. First of the year for me, perhaps they just hatched? I dunno.

Lastly, here's a few more wildflowers seen along the way. If you can help identify any, post your comments below!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Protected Birds

"SLOWLY BACK AWAY FROM THE POND!" Well, I'm sure that's what they WANTED to say.

Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) - Oak Creek. Classes have been over this week, so the place is pretty quiet. I stayed 100 yds away from their buildings and their parked cars, but I 'did' walk around their frog ponds. "You didn't!" I DID! and I had two (2) security cars watch me do it. I stayed on the mowed grass, and just kept my eyes on the birds. Even with all this intimidation I saw 2 Wood Ducks, some pretty big turtles, heard some frogs, and got some shots of their highly protected Canada Geese!

THEN, you know what I did? I went to Mitchell Airport Park "Did you say AIRPORT???? Shut up!" Yup. It's labeled "park", it's ACROSS THE ROAD from the airport and it belongs to the public, and I walked across it! Despite three (3) federal security cars watching me (one unmarked and 2 marked with their lights flashing) I came out with a photo of one of their Savanah Sparrows. I did! Then when they weren't looking (they probably were) I even got a photo of their Meadowlark! As I rode my bike towards home (my big 12 mph get away), the unmarked car followed me. Hope he got good photos of me. Society has gone NUTZ! I give them credit for none of them actually stopping me and asking what I'm doing (I'm pretty sure it was obvious), but it won't be long before they will.  Really? It takes 3 security cars to watch me take photos of birds in a marked, public park, across the road from the airport? Is everyone looking for the BIG BUST? What an interesting day to say the least! 

Savanah Sparrow
Eastern Meadowlark

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Little ones of Nature

Blue Grey Gnat Catcher
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Sitting here, waiting for the rain to stop, so I thought I'd revisit some of the young critters I've encountered the past few years.

These Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were 10 feet of the walking path at Greenfield Park. I heard a faint 'peep peep' and there they were (while dozens of people listening to their iPods walked right by).

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Horicon Marsh - Auto Tour. "This gravel is the BEST!"

Canada Geese goslings Horicon Marsh

Grant Park - South Milwaukee at the old mill pond.

Canada Geese gosling Grant Park South Milwaukee

Horicon Marsh - Dike Road

Canada Geese goslings Horicon Marsh

Horicon Marsh - Auto Tour: Hooded Merganzers

Hooded Merganzers Horicon Marsh

Horicon Marsh Auto Tour
(driving through here at 25mph is too fast! Go S-L-O-W)

Robin's nest Horicon Marsh

Scout Lake - Greendale, WI

Mallard ducklings Scout Lake Greendale Wisconsin

Fox River Park - Waukesha, WI

Sandhill Cranes Fox River Park Waukesha Wisconsin

Root River Parkway - Greenfield, WI

Whitetail Deer fawn Greenfield Wisconsin

The End

Canada Goose goslings Horicon Marsh

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Furry Critters

So, flowers are pretty easy to take pictures of. Sure, it takes some practice to get pleasing angles, but they can't run away from you. Birds are harder. To get 'a' bird isn't so tough, to get THAT bird may be very challenging.

Then come four legged animals ... it depends on where you live. You may have some in your backyard that will eat out of your hand, while those out in the woods can be quite elusive.

 I just happened to catch this mink late in the morning at a nearby pond late one morning. A few people come here to fish, but other than that, it's a pretty quiet area.
I was a good 50 meters away from him, yet he did not like me being in his yard and when I looked away for just an instant, he was gone. It sure was a treat finding him though. Maybe our paths will cross again one day.

 I found this pair of coy-wolves just a mile from home in a park that's so small, I usually forget that it's there. It was a cold morning (-5F) just after a light snowfall.  What caught my eye was all the tracks in the fresh snow that had just fallen only a few hours before.

They were laying in those reeds at the edge of this pond and I didn't see them until one got up to stretch, then wandered off. Shortly followed by the second one who has something going on with her fur! I went back a number of times, but no new tracks, never saw them again.

Deer are always fun. Found these two right along a very busy walking trail at the local nature center.  Person after person walked right by this pair, oblivious to their presence. They were quite accommodating to me and when I left them, I met a group of 3rd graders and their teacher. I showed them where this pair was, and to be very quiet. Oh were they happy to see this pair of deer on their nature walk.

Farm animals can be fun.
These I found just while out driving.

Of course pets are a great subject as well.

Just remember, where ever you are, keep shooting!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Voila! ... Irises in Bloom!

Irises in bloom. First day right after a spring rain shower.This morning the irises bloomed! A few had been trying for the past few days, but late this morning we had a spring rain shower, followed by bright sun and VOILA! You can still see the rain drops on the pedals.

Irises in bloom. First day right after a spring rain shower.

Irises in bloom. First day right after a spring rain shower.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Grobschmidt Park (part 2)

Seeing that the weather will be turning stormy for next few days, I decided to take one more advantage of the good weather and headed over to Grobschmidt Park, just 3 miles from home, about an hour before sunset on Saturday evening.

I briefly saw a Baltimore Oriole, but other than that, it was the usual suspects.
 I could hear this bird, but could not see him to get an identification.

Walking closer to the lake, I got a quick glimpse of these 
Great Egrets heading out for the night.

Great Egrets land in a tree.
Great Egrets land in a tree.

Other than them, I didn't see much else outside of normal.
Red Winged Black Birds, Canada Geese and such, 
so that was about it I thought.
As I learned when I used to go out metal detecting, however,
you keep swinging until you get to the car, because you never
know what you'll find. That is so true, I once found a gold ring
just feet from my car as I walked back to it!

So it goes with nature photography as well.
The sun is setting, but I stay alert as I hike back out.
Sunset on Grobschmidt Park.
Sunset on Grobschmidt Park.

Walking the trail, I caught glimpse of this Green Heron
perched high, checking out the scene.
This turned out to be the highlight of the evening;
 my first Green Heron of the year.

Green Heron perched at sunset.
Green Heron perched at sunset.

... and another 15 minutes, as it's a bit darker.

Green Heron perched at sunset.
Green Heron perched at sunset.

Keeping my short window of nice weather in mind,
I went back the very next morning arriving around 6am which
was about 45 minutes after sunrise, but clouds kept it dark.

Coming off the walking trail, getting first sight of the lake,
I see that the pair of Great Egrets are back. One is in a tree,
the other on the small island.

Great Egret at dawn.
Great Egret at dawn.

 A Mallard Duck family at first light.

Mallards in early light.
Mallards in early light.

Then scanning the opposite shore, I spotted this deer
out for an early morning swim accompanied by
a couple of Canada Geese. They were not swimming by,
but staying next to the deer. They must be one big happy 'Framly'.

A deer takes a dip in the lake.
A deer takes a dip in the lake.

Not too long after, a pair of Wood Ducks appear.

Wood Ducks at dawn
Wood Ducks at dawn.

Then suddenly "SPA-LOOSH!" A Caspian Tern
dove head first into the water. Missing his breakfast
he came up empty, but gracefully shook it off. 

Caspian Tern shakes his head.
Caspian Tern shakes his head.

It's been some 30 minutes now, the sun has finally
broken through the clouds and I noticed that the deer
was not alone, but had a fawn out there too.
Was the fawn stuck in the mud?
Was the mother comforting
the stuck fawn? OH NO!

Deer and fawn take a dip
Deer and fawn take a dip.

No no, 10 more minutes and suddenly both had disappeared,
so it must have just been a pleasant early morning dip.

So, here's the scene as I left, followed by he sound of a
Marsh Wren who is nesting just a few paces away from
where I was standing when I took this photo.

So begins another great day at Grobschmidt Park!

Sunrise on Grobschmidt Park.
Sunrise on Grobschmidt Park.