The following entries are from the McGills continuing exploration of Seney National Wildlife Refuge located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This Refuge holds a special place in the hearts of Michael & Teresa. It is, in fact, a 'refuge' for them providing them with a peaceful, serene place to do what they love most-photograph and film Michigan's wonderful wildlife.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal October 17, 2016
Monday we woke to rain and gale force winds....causing us to lose power. So we decided to head to the Refuge. We were happy to find two juvenile loons on E Pool. One was more than willing to pose for a couple of photos. I would like to think it could be our little J Pool chick.
The B Pool territorial trumpeter swans were feeding near the spillway with their two almost grown cygnets. Though thirty plus cygnets were hatched on the pools...only five survived along the drives...one on J Pool...two on E Pool and these two. Sad...northern pike...snapping turtles and eagles are their main enemies.
And so ended our 2016 season at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. It was an amazing year…so many to cherish and reflect on. We will be counting the days till we return for sharp-tailed grouse count in April.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal October 16, 2016
Probably my last early morning on Seney National Wildlife Refuge for this season...calling for rain in the morning. Always a sad time of year...but what an amazing season it has been!
At least it was a lovely morning. I enjoyed watching the Harvest Moon setting over the Refuge before the sun even rose...well it was behind some clouds.
The sun finally rose over the dark clouds...showing off the Fall colors through the morning fog...and casting reflections in the water.
...I did find a little wildlife to photograph...though much more scarce and camera shy. Some male wood ducks were scattered along with hooded mergansers...trumpeter swans...Canada geese...green-winged teals...pied billed grebes and two young common loons.
The Personification of Fall...the gathering of Canada Geese. I don't usually spend much time photographing them...but they were there. They did a little talking amongst themselves and decided it was time to fly.
The territorial pair spent their time preening and patrolling their domain.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal October 10, 2016
Monday morning at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. Of course, I would find Mr. E Pool eagle sitting in his tree just before the sun came out. He even sat and let me take a couple of photos. But at least I saw him.
Finally the sun broke through the clouds giving me some sweet shots. There is nothing more relaxing and serene than my early morning quiet time on the Refuge. I'm going to miss that when we leave next Monday for the season. Then it's time to spend time with my winter friends....eagles...rough-legged hawks and hopefully some snowy owls
I almost missed a little ruffed grouse roosting on a dead tree along the drive. This is when I'm reminded to slow down...stop and really look...it's always amazing the little things you will discover along the way if you do.
I did enjoy a few minutes with a territorial pair of trumpeter swans on a pool with Canada geese...some green-winged teals...wood ducks and a single greater yellowleg on Monday. But when an intruding swan arrived they took after it. Unfortunately that's when the sun decided to peek out...and I didn't get my settings changed in time for the action shots.
The clouds moved in and I headed back to the trailer…the end of another weekend on the Refuge.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal October 9, 2016
I enjoyed another gorgeous sunrise at Seney National Wildlife Refuge this morning. Even treated to a little fog to make it perfect.
One of my favorite shots from this gorgeous morning at Seney National Wildlife Refuge was when the sun rose through the clouds...the light it cast on the Fall foliage and cloudy sky was totally amazing...along with sweet reflections.
I may not have wildlife to shoot but I did enjoy the many faces of sunrise reflecting on Nature. Clouds can make such a beautiful backdrop of a sunrise...especially as the rays pierce them from above.
If you hesitate...you can miss what Nature gives you in a blink of an eye. Get up and get out and enjoy what Nature has waiting for you. It looked like the clouds were going to be heavy when I arrived before daylight...but the north winds blew and gave me some spectacular vistas...and reflections.
At Seney National Wildlife Refuge you never just what you may find around the next curve. Unfortunately this time of year it's not much in the way of wildlife. But I can settle for beautiful visions of Nature.
So what I found around the next curve….Sunday morning in God's Cathedral. The best place to be to enjoy the solitude and peace that Nature brings us.
Then I found this little ruffed grouse just sitting in the road...waiting for me to take its picture. I had to actually approach it to get it to move off the road. A little gift of wildlife for me from God on this beautiful Sunday morning.
I found flocks of ring-necked ducks throughout the Refuge. But don't expect to get too close to photograph them. They are off and flying...circling and circling...father and farther away.
I would love to think the young loon I found was our J Pool chick checking out C Pool...but there was another one on D Pool, too. With the Fishing Loop closed I haven't been able to monitor the little guy. But feel it is fine and should have been flying by now. By Monday both young loons were gone. So hopefully they found flying mates. I wish them safe journey and hope to see them return one day.
I found this friendly crow sitting along the drive enjoying some Fall harvest on top of a dead birch tree. Love my corvids! It was so engrossed with eating it didn't fly away...till someone pushed me from behind.
I ended my day on the Refuge tonight with a gorgeous sunset…almost as gorgeous as the sunset I took at 60mph along Lake Michigan Friday night. But luckily I was standing still when I shot this one.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal October 8, 2016
A quick trip through the Refuge this morning before sunrise...which didn't show up till after 8:30 or so. I met a fellow W.I.N. member, Teresa Haven and her husband, from Missouri, here to enjoy our great Upper Peninsula. I was very happy to find this juvenile common loon on E Pool in the early morning gloom.
I found a little color and a little sunshine just before I left the Refuge. But the temperature this morning read 41 degrees...feels like 33. A little change from the day before when we had 77 degrees at home.
I startled her and she startled me ...but she stopped and posed for me anyways before I left the Refuge this morning…white-tailed doe…sweet girl.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal October 3, 2016
After the morning fog lifted...the sun shone on the bits of color throughout making for some lovely vistas. FYI Those are American coots enjoying the morning
Then the fog moved back in...which I totally loved...except I had to sit and wait for it to lift to see any wildlife. But I wasn't complaining....I had all day to enjoy it.
I had so much fun photographing these two greater yellowlegs. They would chase each other...fly to keep up or get away from the other. They would literally run to get ahead of each other. I was hunkered down in the muck and grasses...and they never gave me a second look. I came back to the same spot several times throughout the day...and there they were still going at it.
After the fog lifted I was so excited to find the E Pool eagle sitting along the drive. But of course...as soon as I lifted the camera...bam...he took off. Well I did get a shot of him.
I had fun with these two little pied billed grebes. The one is still sporting its 'stripes' showing it is a juvenile. I couldn't decide which one I liked so I'm posting them all. Sorry. Like their 'cousins' the loons...their feet are located way on the back of their bodies...causing them to need a longer distance to lift off the water. I love their little flapper feet that kept popping out from under this one's wing.
During the early morning sunrise I found this handsome male wood duck hiding in a cove. I love the colors and reflections surrounding him.
spotted a greater yellowleg flying...I investigated and found several green-winged teals, too. I was enjoying watching them...but two hikers spooked them. I was able to snap this shot as one of the females took off...followed by the rest of them. But the yellowlegs continued to entertained me
I'm always excited when American coots start showing up in the fall at the Refuge. I was able to access a point of land a little closer to them. They are so much fun to watch
While I was watching the coots from my brush pile...I heard a splash...something landed nearby. I was able to pop my head up and see it was a male wood duck. I waited patiently....and finally he floated out in front of me. At first he was in the shadows...then slow came out into the sunlight. smile emoticon:) Perfect moment
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal October 2, 2016
I was on the Refuge this morning at 7:30am temperature 56...with a little bit of sun peeking out to show off some of the color that's popping up. The Fishing Loop is now closed for the season...so back to taking the Marshland Drive. It's not quite as active but still great to just be here.
I did find a bald eagle on both ends of E Pool...then this 2nd year eagle flew from G Pool over D Pool and then cruised over C Pool.
The wood ducks were out and about early this morning but quickly headed back into the marsh.
A little more color along C Pool. As I was processing the photo I realized we have some American Coots visiting the Refuge!! I love these funky footed birds.
Got back to the Refuge after an afternoon with sandhill cranes. I love the reflections that the setting sun makes on the fall foliage. A perfect way to end a day in the U.P.
It's always a treat to get to enjoy a sunrise or sunset at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. Tonight was one of those lucky nights. The clouds lifted before sunset...giving me a lovely sunset to enjoy.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal October 3, 2016
It was a perfect morning...fog...sun...reflections and wildlife. This is pre-sunrise on the Refuge.
The sun finally broke through the fog this morning. It was a perfect morning....and a perfect day spent with wood ducks, pied billed grebes...greater yellowlegs...American coots and even some green-winged teals
I got back to the Refuge with about forty minutes to enjoy it before the sunset. My first encounter as I started the drive was this young merlin. It sat still long enough for me to get a few shots before continuing the hunt.
Also in my forty minutes of daylight I found this American coot hanging out with some of the wood ducks. I'm not so sure the wood ducks appreciated its presence.
Then I found four sharp-tailed grouse along the drive. I was amazed how much I saw in such a short time. I guess I need to make quick runs more often.
Then I was able to get some sweet sunset shots...making it the end of a perfect day
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal September 26, 2016
I was on the Refuge before sunrise...but I could have slept in a couple of hours because it took that long before I ever caught sight of it. The temperature was 58 degrees but windy. Oh well, the sounds of the Refuge were still a joy to hear. I did spot a least a hundred sandhill cranes flying from west to east. Looks like the gatherings are beginning. Finally enough sun broke through to capture a few shots
The sun did make an appearance...just in time to shoot a few wood ducks. While shooting the wood ducks...I found a great blue heron. It took off flying through the branches...flying up at an angle...ending up in a tree.
We found a pair of sandhill cranes on H pool later in the day. The winds were howling out of the southwest...and the pair seemed to enjoy 'dancing' in the wind.
Another pair of sandhill cranes flew in to chase out the other pair I had been photographing. Always fun to watch them challenging each other.
While I was watching the sandhill cranes carrying on chasing each other....the territorial pair of trumpeter swans flew by chasing off an intruder. Like I always say...if you just stop...you'll be amazed at what flies by you
Standing in the howling...gusting southwest winds...I was treated to fighting sandhill cranes...fighting trumpeter swans...and yeah...an great egret. Also a Northern harrier and merlin flew by but no photos.
Then we found a few wood ducks hanging out in a cove. One was very content with bathing while the other two looked on. I just wish the sun had chosen to peek out at this time. I would have made a point of trying to sneak up a little closer.
We did get a few peeks of sunshine mid-day and just when we found a couple of handsome male wood ducks enjoying the 'crumbs' left over from the trumpeter swans feeding.
The best part of the day was meeting up with our friends Ken and Jean Rautiola. While Jean and I were standing in the drive talking...the second great egret showed up. It flew off before we could get good shots. So Jean and I jumped in our truck (while Ken and Michael were in their truck) and followed it down to J Pool.
On our way down to J Pool looking for the great egret, Jean and I found our little J Pool loon chick preening along the drive. So good to see the little one doing so well...even though it's been all alone for several weeks.
Yeah...Jean and I found our great egret at the end of J Pool enjoying the eats. We photographed and watched it for over an hour. We wanted to make the most of our time on the Fishing Loop. It will be close the next time we come.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal September 25, 2016
Another gorgeous sunrise at Seney National Wildlife Refuge this morning. It was partly cloudy with temps at 53degrees. Unfortunately the sun didn't stay with me too long...but still had a great day.
As autumn is descending...the Refuge is changing...most of the loons have left. But the youngest loon chick at ten weeks old...J Pool chick...is still hanging out. I was so happy to see it this morning in the sunrise.
Well, the sandhill cranes weren't on H Pool this morning so I moved along down to G Pool. My friends Ken and Jean Rautiola had told me that the Refuge was lowering G Pool again...continuing repairs to the G/D spillway. Lucky for me...a couple of pairs were hanging out on a couple of the islands. As I got there...well after sunrise...about twenty sandhills took off from the far end of G Pool heading...away from me. But at least I found them.
I did get up close and personal with apair of sandhill cranes...as the sun peeked back out. Despite the cloudy day...I managed to get quite a few decent shots when the sun co-operated.
After the sandhill cranes flew off to another island...a pair of trumpeter swans were more than willing to pose for me. The lighting was perfect...so I took full advantage of it
I waited patiently...photographing the pair of trumpeter swans. I knew after they preen...they do the wing-flap. Perfect...made more perfect with the early morning light.
During one of the 'dark' moments of the morning I found a young Northern harrier hanging out preening in a dead tree. I was able to get several shots of it without it noticing me.
I also saw several dozen pied billed grebes throughout the Refuge yesterday. They are such cute little divers...but very shy. It's usually the young ones that allow a few photos taken before submerging like a submarine.
The two great egrets were still at Seney National Wildlife Refuge...but just not quite as co-operative as last weekend. Well, I guess I can't be greedy
The wood ducks were everywhere around the Refuge, too....but also not quite as co-operative as last weekend. That's what makes catching them more special. But it was fun to watch a male 'woo' his lady...I guess biting her tail is a turn on. She seemed to like it.
I was happy to find this great blue heron hiding in the marsh yesterday at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. Sadly we haven't seen more than three or four at the most at one time. Years ago we had six or eight at one time sitting on the dead trees...along with many others. I love these prehistoric creatures.
Despite the day being mostly cloudy...I managed to get some fun action shots...when the sun actually was peeking out. Timing and luck are two of my best friends.
With the lowering of G Pool to fix the G/D spillway...the trumpeter swans had invaded the area along with mallards, pied billed grebes and wood ducks. The territorial pair of trumpeter swans was not too happy with the invasion. The male took out one of the younger invaders.
As I was photographing a pair of sandhills a car stopped...a lady got out walked toward the water to take a quick shot...and bam... the sandhills flew. Well, luckily I was hunkered down in the bushes...knowing what was about to happen...and snap! I got the shot!
While I was hunkered down enjoying the sandhill cranes and the trumpeter swans...a Northern harrier flew by...checking out the 'eats' around G Pool.
The Northern harrier stirred up the many wood ducks feeding on G Pool. I was able to snap a couple of shots of them as they flew by me.
Then a pair of trumpeter swans came flying in...circling right in front of me before landing. If you just sit quietly...it's amazing what will come your way.
The territorial trumpeter swan on G Pool was getting quite a workout . Then two pairs of trumpeter swans came bobbing up close to me. Both pairs were doing their up and down courtship movements. It was so comical to watch them. It went on and on for some time. I kept trying to get both pairs making their 'heart shape' necks at the same time...but I did manage one deep heart and another 'open' heart
Then I did get a chance to capture a wood duck or two. One of the males was just getting his fall breeding plumage. He looks looked like he was wearing a toupee.
Nature blends so well into its background. The juvenile red-tailed hawk was doing a little hunting along the drive...but we spied it all the same.
One treat was finding this juvenile horned lark. It was enjoying the seeds of the small weeds along the drive. I actually had to shoo it out the drive in order to move on. With fall migration...you never know what you will find.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge September 19, 2016
I arrived around 6:45 am again to 64 degrees with a south wind and clouds over the sunrise. I got to spend the morning again with about twenty-five sandhill cranes. Nothing more perfect than hearing their soft cackling/purring as they start their morning. Unfortunately they all took off to the east...not in front of me....but still wonderful to hear them cackling all the way.
The sun rose amongst the clouds on…the best time of the day...especially when I'm surrounded with the awakening wildife.
I was treated to a small flock of Northern shovelers in the early morning sunlight. They circled several times before landing...giving me ample opportunity to photograph them...from a distance.
Then, of course, there was the great egret out fishing in the sunrise. I'll miss these two beauties when they finally head south. But what joy they have brought me while they have been here.
It was gorgeous till about 8:45am then the clouds moved over the sun….but eventually peeked back out.
My moment of happiness on Monday at Seney National Wildlife Refuge came when I spotted the D Pool loon daddy and his young in the middle of the pool. F Pool loon, ABJ, and his chick have left...C Pool loon, T7, and his chick have left...and on this day I was witness to D Pool, Z4, and his chick taking off. It was such a thrill when the young flew by...smiling. Z4 called as they flew away heading south. I waited...thinking they could just be taking a test run...but they never returned. So I wished them well...and hope to see Z4 back here next spring
I was so happy to find several wood ducks in one of my favorite quiet spots. They lighting at the right time of day is superb...showing off the greenery around the water. It was a perfect setting for these gorgeous creatures.
A young wood duck was as curious about me as I was of it...at the end of the drive. He came off his log to check me out. He didn't fly off...just started to feed. Now why can't they all be so co-operative???
I went back to the trailer to get Michael to make one last run through the Refuge before heading home.
I was given a treat when this handsome male wood duck allowed me to get several shots of him...before he decided he didn't like his picture taken. He was all alone...still not ready to look for love? But he was definitely showing off his fall breeding plumage.
We also found one of the juvenile hooded mergansers in the J channel where they like to hang out.
We also found two double crested cormorants on D Pool…a sure sign that our loons have gone.
We also found this six point buck Monday at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. The points aren't big...but they are there. He just stood and looked without moving an eyelash...as I took a few photos of him.
I was just complaining how I hadn't got to see the eagles too much this year...except at a distance. Sadly neither E or G Pool eagles had young this year. Well, guess what we found fishing on G Pool?? Yep...one of the eagles. It snagged a little fish then went to this spit of land to eat...with a friend. I love watch the crows and ravens nagging the mighty eagles. The eagle didn't offer to share so the crow flew off....then eventually the eagle. I did not get great pics but just great to spend some time watching these might raptors.
Just before we left the Refuge for the last time this trip...I spotted the young male wood duck...back sitting on a log in the marsh. Once again he didn't seem to mind me taking photos of him. Lucky for me.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge September 18, 2016
I arrived at the Refuge around 6:45am to 51 degrees and a west wind.
I start the morning with the sandhill cranes …at least twenty-five of them around me. There was one pair with a colt. The family with the colt was the first to leave. The sun was trying to rise above the clouds.
It wasn't too long after the sun rose above the clouds that one of the great egrets flew in to join the sandhill cranes.
My last pair of sandhill cranes to leave me...was the only ones that actually took off and flew in front of me....and the sun was peeking out.
The winds were blowing from the west...yep the clouds were coming my way. It didn't take them long to come in and fill up the sky.
I heard the call of one loon…the eagles chattering and some yellow-legs flew over. Along the drive I found pied billed grebes in G Pool….an eagle fly over…wood ducks and pied billed grebes on C Pool….a merlin in B marsh…and a flock of ring-necked ducks on C Pool. My last visitor was the young red-tailed hawk near the end of the drive. It landed on the ground then took off as I got closer.
We made a quick jog into the Refuge to check on the wood ducks near the Visitors Center around noon. We were happy to find a female on a downed tree...and actually stayed there to be photographed.
Then we spotted her handsome suitors...there were two male wood ducks trying to woo the female. Lucky me...they were more interested in her than what I was doing.
The other male wood duck suitor was working his way up the downed tree. But then he spotted me and flew off...taking the other two with them.
Back to the Refuge Sunday afternoon...lots of people. But I was first one on the Fishing Loop. I spotted an egret on H Pool...bad lighting but I decided to shoot it anyways. It flew to a better spot. Then I moved on...to find the second one on a dead tree. I was able to walk fairly close to it. A jeep waited for me as I was on foot. I told them to go ahead after I had shot enough. I said I was ready if it flew...which it did.
Then the great egret flew back...right in front of me. Of course I was zoomed out too far and clipped its wing...but I still got it. Their wings are so gorgeous.
So after the great egret flew in front of me...it flew down to where the first one was fishing. And so began the fun!!!
Then both of the great egrets flew into the dead trees way back at the start of H pool. After four cars went by...I backed up midway on H. Another car saw them and pulled in at the start of H Pool where they were both sitting in trees. He eventually spooked them and I was able to get some decent shots of them.
And then I watched the egrets as they flew away together. They flew into trees back at F marsh. So I left the car parked and walked back to see what I could see.
So after the egrets chased each other around...the first time...one landed on this downed tree along the drive. I hiked back to find it...and continued photographing. It was so sweet to spend some time observing this little beauty.
The wind was blowing causing some of the bark of the tree to flop around. The egret was so cute trying to snatch at the bark. It finally got it...and then let it go. I love getting to spend time observing nature. You never know just what you will witness.
Believe it or not while I was crouched down along the drive shooting this beauty...people drove right by it...without see it. What?? Seriously??? But I didn't mind...and neither did the egret.
Then the great egret took off. But luckily I kept my eye on it. It flew back into the marsh...where the other great egret was hanging out. I decided to head back to where my truck was parked...keeping an eye on the egrets. I hoped if they were going to fly it would be back that way...and the lighting would be much better
Well, my patience paid off. All of a sudden the great egrets started chasing each other. First one came flying by me...then the second great egret came flying by me. It was like a blitz...egrets flying everywhere!!! Totally awesome!!!
One of the great egrets landed on an island on H Pool...but...in the blink of the eye...the other great egret came back out of the marsh. The second great egret flew by me...to chase the other egret off its island...then they both flew back toward me. Dang! That was the most amazing few minutes!!! Timing and luck!!! Yep...it was definitely my lucky day with these two beautiful visitors.
I was so happy to see the J Pool loon chick doing well at nine weeks old. It's been on its own for over two weeks. Sandhills were feeding along H Pool...a juvenile Northern harrier spooked up by a kingfisher...a young blue jay chasing a flock of Northern flickers. I also spotted a great blue heron in C Pool but it got spooked and flew off. B Pool trumpeters swan came over to me from across the pool enjoying the beautiful setting sun...and a quick snap of a shy juvenile pied billed grebe. I left at 7:20pm before th beautiful sunset. It was a long but successful day. What a perfect way to spend a perfect day in the U.P. and SNWR.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge September 12, 2016
It was another gorgeous morning. I arrived at 6:30am to 57 degrees …windy and no fog. I got nestled in before the sun broke over the ridge. I had about twenty-five sandhill cranes around me...but they didn't notice my presence....and take off.
The only problem with getting out there before the sun is completely risen...is the wildlife is already moving. But I still managed to snap this juvenile Northern harrier as it started its morning...heading right at me. I did see both of them for a few minutes but they decided to hunt elsewhere.
My great egret finally came in around 8:00am but it didn’t come in and preen on its usual spot. The second egret was back further. It flew but only to head behind H Pool.
I was so surprised when a...I believe...great yellow-leg...flew at the end of my spit of land. It didn't seem to mind me photographing it.
It was good to see the J Pool eight week old chick doing well. It is all alone. Dad seemed to have left over a week ago. Last year dad stayed till the young was ready. Hoping nothing happened to him. I'm very fond of J Pool territorial male loon banded AT. Junior had just eaten a nice size fish....so it’s doing fine.
Always happy to find one of the juvenile hooded mergansers on their favorite log. This is where I first spotted the family of seven and their momma. I have seen at least six of them still together.
I had a nice visit with fellow photog, Beth Eldridge, who was visiting the Refuge for the first time. Then I had a lovely visit with my Happy Place friends, Ken and Jean Rautiola.
You know how I love my sandhill cranes...except this guy. He and his mate came out of the marsh and started squawking right as I was approaching the juvenile merlin who was sitting in its favorite tree. Oh well, I got the sandhill.
I had given up hopes of finding a male wood duck in its fall breeding plumage this past weekend at SNWR. Most of them I had seen were still in the process of changing in to their handsome plumage. But...out of the shadows...came a handsome male. I love these beauties. We are so lucky to have them in their spring and fall breeding plumage.
Michael and I had to take one last drive through the Refuge before heading home on. I'm so glad we did. We found several male wood ducks enjoying the beautiful afternoon. One was reposing on a log. Love finding a wood duck on wood.
I loved finding several male wood ducks in the shadows. The wind blowing the lily pads added to the setting.
My patience paid off as the male wood duck moved out of the shadows and into the light. I liked his 'fan' aka lily pad. What a perfect way to end our visit to the Refuge.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal September 11, 2016
It’s another beautiful morning at Seney National Wildlife Refuge as I arrived at 6:45am to 46 degrees…no fog and breezy. I was surprised to spot an osprey sitting in a tree along the drive. All of the adults and I had though youngsters had left. It could be a migrating bird. I didn't quite get settled before dawn broke...so I spooked a few sandhill cranes. But I did catch a snap of them as they cackled by me.
I was luckily settled in to my special place when one of the great egrets flew in. Love catching them in the early morning sun
Shortly after the great egret flew in...everything flew!! Well, a bald eagle decided to fly over to do a little duck hunting. The egret flew and landed in a tree right behind me!! After it thought it was safe...it took off to go back to fishing.
I couldn't resist shooting the territorial trumpeter swans as they patrolled their domain. Sadly this pair lost all five of their adorable cygnets...the ones I shot in the early morning light as momma lead them all down to the water
The trumpeter swans came up so close...I thought they might join me on my spit of land.
I had so much fun with a juvenile Northern harriers. I adore these raptors. I love their 'owl' faces. One of the youngsters was practicing its pouncing on a muskrat lodge.
So...what could be better than one young Northern harrier??? TWO juvenile Northern harriers!!! What a treat to watch these two 'play'. I'm so sure the miscellaneous ducks were not too happy with their 'playing' though.
I was hearing different calls other than the standard quacking of the mallards. I zoomed in and discovered female and juvenile American widgeons...northern pintails and green-winged teals amongst the geese and mallards. You just never know what you may find...especially during migration.
After I left my morning spot I found the J Pool loon chick still doing well at eight weeks old…all on its own. There were quite a few pied billed grebes on G Pool. Then I found first three…then three more hooded merganser juveniles. It was good to see so many had survived. I have been seeing them off and on all summer. Momma had seven so six is a great amount to survive.
At the end of C Pool I found at least a dozen pied billed grebes and eight trumpeter swans. Then a pair of fawns jumped out in front of me. I head out to get Michael to go visit the black bears along the Toonerville Trolley.
I made it back around 4:30pm to 73 degrees and partly cloudy/sunny skies and windy. There were wood ducks at the pool in front of the Visitors Center but they spooked before I could photograph them.
I was happy to find at least five sharp-tailed grouse in the afternoon. I had other friends say they saw seven of them together. So momma has six healthy almost grown young...which is a big achievement for a grouse. I first spotted two on one side of the drive...then three popped their heads out of the other side of the drive.
I was so excited when I moved along the drive after seeing the STG and then actually finding one eating...in a very picturesque setting. It just glanced about in the soft afternoon sun...showing off its gorgeous feather patterns. For a dull colored bird...it is totally stunning. We volunteer every spring to do the sharp-tailed grouse count on the Refuge back at the STG courting lek. So it’s nice to see the results of a successful pair of courting grouse.
It was a lovely evening but I had to head out for an appointment. But I’ll be back before dawn tomorrow.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal September 6, 2016
We woke up to lightening and rain…so I worked on photos. Finally just before we decided to head home…the sun peeked…so off to the Refuge for one last run through.
We got there at 4:15 to 75 degrees and partly cloudy with peeks of sun.
There was quite a few wood ducks in the V.C. pool that allowed me to snap a few shots before flying off. The males are starting to don their handsome fall breeding plumage.
ABJ and his chick were near the shore as we started the drive. The two great egrets were sitting on a downed tree on the back side of H Pool where several sandhill cranes were feeding.
J Pool chick was alone by the drive. It seems to be doing well at seven weeks old…eating and watching for danger. I can’t believe its dad left it all ready. Hopefully nothing happened to the dad. It did have a lone sandhill to keep it company.
A Northern harrier was scattering the waterfowl and shorebirds feeding on the back side of J Pool.
The sandhill crane family and their colt were still at the end of J Pool where they were stirring up some yellowlegs. One of juvenile hooded mergansers was on its favorite log.
We were happy to spot D Pool loon dad with his chick on the back side of the pool. At least a few of the adults and chicks are still with us.
There were lots of pied billed grebes and wood ducks throughout C Pool. As we headed out at 5:30pm the clouds moved back in.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal September 5, 2016
I was on the Refuge by 6:40am. Clouds were over the sunrise but going to clear off. Temperatures in the 60’s with southeast winds. The fog was thin so the sunrise showed off the sandhill cranes as they started moving.
A pair of sandhills were waking with the sunrise...and deciding just where they wanted to start their day.
The pair of sandhill cranes decided to fly over and land in fron to me with about twenty other sandhills...on this gorgeous Monday morning
I was so delighted when this great egret decided it was time to come in and visit. I was extremely excited when it came in and landed right in front of me.
A bone of contention....as you all know...I get up before daylight to get to the Refuge. I like to settle in before everything starts to stir. Well, an hour after sunrise...after the great egret and flown in further out. I heard a car door...then the car pulled away. I thought...oh they must know me and leaving a note on my truck. Before too long I hear loud crashing as a man with his huge lens and tripod come barreling over the hill to try to get out to where I was. Lucky me I had mucked across quite a bit of water to get to my spot. The man wasn't quite prepared to go that far. I...of course...glared my best glare...not once but twice. Seriously??? I don't mind someone shooting behind me on the hill or from the drive. But crashing through the brush...causing the sandhills to go in to a frenzy. Well, he took a few shots...then the egret moved in to its favorite spot...right in front of me. The man took a few more shots...then...crashing...he barreled back out of the brush...causing the egret to fly away.
One good point...the egret flew right in front of me. So I guess good things can come out of bad situations.
I would love to have read him a few of the proper etiquettes of wildlife photography. He and his friend were also stalking…to an extreme…some wildlife the day before...not respecting the wildlife's 'space'. URRGGHHHH...that's all I can say. Now back to enjoying my wildlife.
Once the egret flew by me...it went and spooked out another egret. It looks like the second one got the 'poo' scared out of it.
I had shorebirds and wood ducks…kingfishers and lots of geese and ducks flying over. The territorial trumpeter swans had to put in an appearance, too.
I spent two hours in my favorite spot…then moved on…time to go see the black bears along the tracks of the Toonerville.
T7…the C Pool male loon was up close with his chick. I just said ‘hi’ and moved on. The clouds were starting to move in when I left at 9:30am.
I made it back to the Refuge around 4:40pm to 81 degrees…wind and mostly sunny for now.
A great blue heron was feeding on E Pool and one in F marsh. One of the great egrets and a few sandhills were still feeding on H Pool.
A northern harrier flew from G Pool to E Pool without stopping for a photo op. Pied billed grebes and merlins on G Pool.
I spotted an American bittern on C Pool but too many people pushing through the drive to stop for shots.
Wood ducks at the Visitors Center pool…another great blue heron in F Pool when I made another run through…a northern harrier over H Pool. J Pool chick was hanging out near the drive. I also had a chance to get close to an egret but it got spooked by a car before it came around the bend to where I was hiding.
By the time I ended my early evening at 7:15pm the clouds were rolling in. It looks like rain tomorrow.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal September 4, 2016
Early morning at Seney National Wildlife Refuge…I arrived at 6:40am and 51 degrees...dense fog till well after 9:00am...but I still had a wonderful time just sitting quietly and listening to the wildlife slowly waking up. I was surrounded by sandhill cranes...two great egrets...two great blue herons...wood ducks...mallards...Canada geese...kingfishers...and even a screaming eagle or two.
Along with the wildlife...I was surrounded by beautiful works of art. The dew was heavy on the webs making for some gorgeous prisms that a photo just can’t quite capture.
It was hard to spot the great egret amidst the dense fog this morning. But I enjoyed every minute I was blest to spend with it...regardless of the fog.
As the fog lifted slightly...I was able to shoot both the great egret and the great blue heron cautiously hunting together this morning
A little sun breaking through the dense fog this morning....showing a few of the sandhill cranes and the great blue heron as it hunted along in front of them.
Finally the sun broke through the fog...and the winds died down...making for some sweet reflections shots, too.
Then the great egret performed some yoga moves for me...one side...and then the other. I'm not quite that graceful. It was a perfect morning...after the heavy fog finally lifted.
Even the great blue heron was very accommodating at. It fed up near the great egret...then flew...flying right by me.
The great egret liked to fly in and land on an island to preen. Lucky me...I wasn't too far away from this 'island'. It was quite the poser. And I was truly blest to spend time with it.
I had kingfishers flying around…an eagle screaming in a tree…a wood duck flew in close andowith some other shorebirds flying around….a great way to spend a foggy morning.
G Pool is being lowered to work on the G/D spillway. I spotted several pied billed grebes…but I did not see any of the loons. The merlins were not on their favorite tree. I think the paparazzi that were chasing them yesterday spooked them away.
Several pied billed grebes and wood ducks throughout C Pool. I spotted a northern harrier over B marsh.
By 12:00 it was 73 degrees and partly sunny and breezy. The C Pool loon dad is still with his chick.
Seven week old J Pool loon...still with just a touch of its downy feathers left. I checked on it all three days I was at the Refuge...morning and night...and it appeared to be all alone. Last year Daddy J Pool loon stayed with his young one till later in the fall. This chick was hatched July 16th a week later than last year's chick. It seemed fine...eating and keeping watch. It even went up on land like mommy and daddy taught it...to go potty. This pair is definitely the exception. Most loons do not access land except to copulate...nest...or if stressed.
It was nice to meet facebook friend, Joel DeYoung, and introduce him to this chick. Also great to shoot with friend, Jean Ann Rautiola.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge August 29, 2016
My favorite time of the day...daybreak at Seney National Wildlife Refuge...as the wildlife awakens to greet the new day. One of my favorite early morning friends...the sandhill cranes...as they cackle their greetings and take flight to find more friends to feed with.
Then through the early morning fog...you find not one but two great egrets flying in to feed nearby. Perfect. I spent two hours with these beautiful creatures...along with 30-50 sandhill cranes...and a few other visitors.
I had just nestled in to my spot to sit and watch the early morning show...I was sooooo excited when one of the great egrets decided to head over my way on Sunday morning at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. The rising sun and foggy haze made for some sweet shooting.
As I sat snuggled into the damp brush...the early morning awakened around me at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. Sandhill cranes were coming out of the swamp to join others feeding in front of me. Nothing more perfect then the cackling of a sandhill in the quiet stillness of a foggy morning.
While I was shooting the sandhills...I turned just in time to get a sweet snap of this juvenile Northern Harrier. I love these unique raptors...and always excited when I get the privilege to see one up close and personal
I was also treated to the two great egrets chasing each other around the pool. Lucky for me the one flew by me and landed back in front of me.
Here's the flyby I was treated to as the winning great egret came and landed in front of me. But this wasn't the last flyby I was treated to...there's more to come
The great egret decided to go back and chase the other egret that was across the drive. Lucky me...it came and flew right back in front of me...in the perfect sunlight.
After the great egret took off after the other egret...it landed in a tree near J Pool. I was able to get quite close to capture it in the beautiful blue sky.
As I continued on my drive I found my merlins in their usual spot along G Pool along with the loon chicks.
I found a momma bear and two cubs along the drive right before I got to G Pool on my next run through. Momma paused and let me capture a few shots before they went back toward H Pool. Their black coats glistened from spending time in the cool waters of the marsh.
On my afternoon run I was treated to ABJ and his chick fishing near the shore. I actually spotted them rounding a curve so I positioned myself to line up with them when they came my way.
I then spooked a great blue heron along E marsh…still a few sandhills feeding along H Pool.
J Pool daddy and chick in the channel…some plovers and sandpipers along the shore…then a fifth year eagle flew over stirring up the water and shorebirds…as the loon wailed.
The wood ducks are starting to vie for the females attention even before they are in full breeding plumage. It should be a good fall for some action. Before I left I spooked a young great blue in C Pool. It was kind enough to fly up into a pine tree a pose for a few shots.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge August 28, 2016
I arrived on the Refuge at 6:40am to 62 degrees with fog and clouds covering the sunrise. The sandhills were calling the juvenile osprey on F Pool was sitting on its old nest calling for its parents that are no longer here…having left for the Southern Hemisphere.
A loon was calling on E Pool….ABJ and his chick were out still resting. Kingfishers were shattering and flying around…hyper little critters. Both of the E Pool eagles were in their tree. The trumpeter swans were waking on E Pool along with several wood ducks and beavers.
The J Pool daddy loon and chick were in the channel. The Caspian terns were fishing. A northern harrier flew in front of me at the start of G Pool.
The juvenile merlins were still in their tree near G Pool….screaming for attention. The daddy loon was out with one chick while the other was at the far end of the pool.
An eagle was in the feeding tree at the west end of E Pool.
Another run through found a pair of sandhill cranes on an island on F Pool squawking. I was then treated to time with a great egret and two great blue herons on H Pool…along with some sandhill cranes on H Pool. I was treated to a kingfisher flyby as I was nestled down watching the action.
I found lots of wood ducks in the C Pool marsh and the pied billed grebes, too. More pied billed grebes at the end of C Pool along with ring-necked ducks and a lone loon with a red band on its right leg.
We made an evening run through at 5:00pm to 75 degrees and partly sunny skies. We found a great blue heron in the pool in front of the Visitors Center. The great egret and some sandhills were still on H Pool.
I was able to get some shots of the J pool loon and chick. Further down on J Pool a Northern harrier flew over the back side of the pool stirring up the shorebirds and ducks that were feeding there.
Then we spotted the sandhill cranes and their colt near the bridge. Well, they weren’t alone…there was a great egret feeding nearby. It was so fun to watch the sandhill crane colt...going after the great egret. The colt wasn't too pleased with the egret invading its territory. For a colt that can't fly yet...it was pretty persistent...stalking the egret till it finally was content with the distance it was keeping. You never know what you will find and what events you may witness. That's what I love about what I am privileged to do every weekend...spend time with nature.
We found the female osprey...aka...Dumb...who lost her nest when the strong winds went through the Refuge...several weeks ago...near her lost nest. She was holding a large pike...and just sitting there...sadly...like she was waiting to feed her 'babies'. Our friends...Ken and Jean found her about a half an hour later...still sitting there with her uneaten fish. Who says animals don't have feelings. She really should be heading off to South America. Poor dear.
We found this female merlin at the end of C Pool in the setting sun. She was busy trying to catch something...probably to feed her screaming young. She managed to pose for a minute before heading off to continue her hunt.
The egret also spooked up a couple of Virginia rails while it was feeding. Then we spooked a great blue heron in C Pool. We found a female merlin hunting at the end of C Pool.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal August 22, 2016
Monday morning I was on the Refuge before daybreak….6:40am gorgeous and 48 degrees. Unfortunately, right when I got the Refuge my truck informed me I had a tire that was low. So....I called Michael...he borrowed Claudia's car and came and changed my tire. Of course, I wasn't going to just sit and wait...so I decided to take a walk back to I Pool...to check on the loon chicks that I haven't seen yet. First I spooked a great blue heron that was sitting in a pine tree along the trail. The loons were right near the shore when I found them...with dad feeding them. They look to be about the age of the C Pool loon which is seven weeks old.
I had known when and where they had nested earlier in the season...but found their nest flooded when I checked on them last. Well, surprise...surprise...they, too, had re-clutched...and were successful. What an amazing season for the loons this year...9 pair hatched sixteen chicks...with fourteen still surviving. Perfect.
When I finally started the drive on the Refuge the sun was already up and the wildlife was awake. I spooked three more great blue herons that were in trees along the start of F Pool. A pair of sandhills were just preparing to take off...to look for some breakfast. The sandhills were cackling all over the Refuge...music to my ears. I also saw one of F Pool adult loons with their chick…a young osprey was screaming in its nest. They have fledged and I have a feeling the adults have already started on the southward migration to get to South America.
Kingfishers were being elusive…an eagle flew in front of me going to E Pool.
I was delighted to be running late going through the Refuge...otherwise I might have missed a special visitor...a Great Egret. Hopefully we will see more of these guys in the coming weeks. We've had up to a dozen of them visit us in the fall.
J Pool had a couple of sandhill cranes…yellowlegs…our loon daddy and chick and a northern harrier flying over…along with the trumpeter swans and their two cygnets.
Well I found a kingfishter and it actually let me get close enough to snap a few shots...in the actual daylight. I love these hyper little belted kingfishers...but they sure don't like their pictures taken.
What a treat to find a young merlin screaming for some attention along the G Pool drive. I love these little mini raptors. They are so quick and fierce.
While I was watching the little merlin I also found our G Pool loon chicks. They were worried when another loon flew over. Their dad wasn't far away keeping an eye on them. It does appear that several of the females have already left the Refuge.
While I was watching the merlin…I heard the sound of loons paddling off the G Pool. Eventually they flew over. I guess G Pool daddy was entertain a couple of friends this morning.
Then as I was rounding D Pool…there was an eagle sitting in the Osprey nest…yep…the ospreys have left…now time to dismantle their nest. The little stinkers. I also found
I was very happy to find one of the pied grebe chicks near the shore. The adult and another chick were near when I stopped...but slowly submerged and disappeared. This little one came from a different area and didn't realize I was nearby...lucky me
I was so thrilled to find my little juvenile merlin still sitting in its tree later in the morning. I was able to get closer to get some shots of it. Eventually I pulled the truck up...parked and sat down across from my little friend, My little merlin friend seemed more than willing to tolerate me shooting it. It was even curious about me...but not upset with my presence.
Juvenile merlin #2 flew into a pine tree behind its sibling. Oh what fun I had. These two little raptors kept me so busy...I got a stiff neck. Oh what a problem to have.
I couldn't believe my luck...first with the one merlin...but even more excited when the second one joined us. I spent almost two hours with these amazing little raptors. A perfect day on the Refuge.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal August 21, 2016
After a very rainy start to our day...the clouds finally started to part and allow a peek or two of sunshine. So after missing my early morning run through the Refuge...and missing another Sunday with our black bears....we finally got to spend time with our wildlife at the Refuge. We entered the Refuge around 12:30pm to 65 degrees and mostly sunny skies…and breezy. We spooked one of the juvenile hooded mergansers on H Pool. Along J Pool the Caspian terns were out screaming and fighting...again. I was able to snap a quick shot of this adult and its nagging juvenile. The adult was trying to get it to fish for itself...baby wasn't happy with that arrangement
I was able to spend time with our J Pool loon daddy and his five week old chick. Luckily the pool spillway has finally been repaired and the water level is back to where it needs to be to keep our loons happy and healthy. I caught daddy after he came up from diving for food...no food...but I love seeing them up close and personal.
The J Pool loon chick is definitely in its ugly duckling stage at five weeks old...losing the baby down and growing its adult plumage. They grow so fast. I am so privileged to have monitored this little one since it was one day old...and hopefully until it is ready to head to its wintering ground this fall.
Daddy J Pool appears to be on his own. I think the little missus has headed out. Daddy was doing his part feeding junior. He is one of my all-time favorite loons. And he really does seem to like me. Really!
While I was spending time with the J Pool loon daddy and his chick...daddy noticed something large in the sky. A bald eagle was flying over scattering all the shorebirds...terns and ducks. Daddy let out a wail...warning his chick of impending danger. Junior dived...then moved in closer to daddy. Ever vigilant
Another alert...another eagle flying over. Daddy wailed and junior stayed close to his side...right in front of me. Of course I told them everything would be all right...I'd protect them.
The G Pool loon chicks were out with one parent guarding them. Lots of wood ducks on C Pool long with ring-necked ducks and pied billed grebes.
I was able to get a couple of quick shots of our C Pool loon daddy and his chick. I haven't seen the chick up close for a couple of weeks. Its parents have kept it out in the middle of the pool most of the time. So it was great to see it...in its beautiful new adult plumage.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal August 16, 2016
I was granted an extra day off…so I arrived at the Refuge around6:30am with 60 degrees and overcast skies. Everything was being lazy…and quiet.
I was able to get a close-up of another little belted kingfisher letting me get close...in the early morning light...of course.
Lots of action on J Pool that is almost drained. Terns…shorebirds…trumpeter swans…Canada geese….sandhill cranes…kingfishers…and our loon family. A loon was flying to the south…maybe I’ll find a party.
I found this lone sandhill crane colt...no parents. Sadly it was alone all day long. Luckily though it can fly now. Who knows...maybe it decided to explore on its own for a while. At least the other sandhill cranes are starting to get more social so it should have others to stay close to for extra protection.
Just down the drive from my lone sandhill colt...I found the family that has been hanging out on J Pool. I heard them before I saw them. Once again, I thanked them for letting me know they were there. The dad warned me to keep my distance…which of course I always do.
I found the sandhill colt hiding in the brush near its parents who were trying to distract me with their noise. It didn't work.
Then daddy sandhill and the colt started moving out giving me a clear shot of them. It sure looks like fall with the bracken ferns starting to die. But it has been an awesome summer...and I'm sure there's many more beautiful days ahead of us.
G Pool loon adult was out with its young….D Pool had a visitor that didn’t stay long.
I found four sandhills in C marsh…wood ducks and an American bittern in C Pool. A crow was chasing a poor kingfisher that had a small fish it was trying to eat.
I always enjoy finding the wood ducks on fallen logs. I found two of them close to the road...but my settings were set for distance. URGGHHH. Oh well, there is always another day.
I have been finding more little pied billed grebes this past couple of weeks. Their parents sure have been good at keeping them hidden. But now the young are more independent...the parents have lost control of them.
The lone sandhill cranes spent its time on the almost drained J Pool...where the eats were good...and other sandhills were gathering. It tried to cackle...but nothing came out. I guess it doesn't have its voice yet...but at least it can fly.
I was excited to find six pied billed grebes at the end of C Pool on Tuesday. I was able to catch five of them together. The buggers have been scarce all summer as they raised their young. Glad to see them...I've been worried about them.
J Pool has had a breach in its spillway...causing it to drain drastically. We have worried about the safety and health of the loons and their chick. But fortunately there is a deep channel full of fish for them to feed on. There are at least twenty Caspian terns...sandhill cranes...trumpeter swans...a gaggle of Canada geese...solitary sandpipers...yellow-legs...hooded mergansers and numerous other creatures enjoying it. Here are just a few shots from Tuesday. Besides young harriers...merlins...kingfisher...osprey and an occasional eagle making an appearance.
One of the sweet juvenile hooded mergansers was resting on their favorite log. There were actually two of them...but one was being camera shy...but not the one cutie.
I found a lone merlin at the start of the drive in the marsh. F Pool loons were out feeding…one parent close to the chick…the other one out further preening.
I found the lone loon on H Pool again…and a male harrier hunting. I found another harrier at the end of J channel. Then I heard and caught a quick glimpse of two red-tailed hawks along the west end of the drive.
The fog moved back in making for some sweet shots.
I had to take a second look when I found a bald eagle...not for a photo op...but because it was sitting in a pine tree...right next to the osprey nest on D Pool. Luckily it seems the osprey chicks have fledged...otherwise I would have heard quite a commotion going on. It won't be long and these devilish eagles will start taking a part the osprey nest to fortify their own nest. Yep...opportunist....little stinkers. It won't be the first time they've done this or I dare say the last.
Lots of young ring-necked ducks and pied billed grebes at the end of C Pool.
On my last pass through the Refuge on my extra day off...I was given a gift. I was sooooo excited to find two American bitterns together. Little did I realize that there was a third one there, too!! I think the one on the upper left was the adult...the other two were juveniles. The adult bittern flew off into the marsh...but the juveniles stayed put...thank goodness. I was able to get a close-up of both of them. Unfortunately someone came up behind me and I had to pull my truck ahead...by then they were gone. But what an amazing treat for me. Like I always say...you never know what you will find around the next corner...so always be prepared.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge August 15, 2016
I arrived at the Refuge a little later…6:25am…the sun isn’t rising till around 6:40am. The temperature was 61 degrees with quite a few clouds in the sky.
I spooked a great blue heron out of the pool in front of the Visitors Center.
One of my first sightings was a bald eagle waiting for the sun to rise along the F/I drive. Actually it was still there at 10:30 when I went back through. Either the hunting was good...or it was just enjoying the peace and quiet.
What a gorgeous morning on the Refuge today. It started out with clouds...then sun...then fog...then sun...then fog again. It was so peaceful and ethereal…so worth getting up early for.
Once again my little kingfishers are more than willing to pose for me...in the dark. I have to have the ISO so high that it's too grainy for printing...but at least I got it.
Actually the sun came out...the fog took over...the sun came out...the fog took over till almost 11:00am
A pair of sandhill cranes in B marsh gave me a warning of what was to come. I heard them before I saw them...so I was prepared getting them in flight as they took off.
I found six pied billed grebes all together at the end of C Pool!! I am always amazed how well these little guys stay hidden while they are nesting and raising their young. I think it’s when the young finally get big enough to go where they want that we actually get to see the little buggers.
I was enjoying this pair of sandhill cranes along J Pool...when all of a sudden… 'in-coming'…another sandhill. I had just enough time to pull back my zoom to get a little bit of the action. The male from further down the pool with a colt...didn't like this pair 'sharing' his territory...just yet. I guess he's not in the mood to be social just yet...as some of the sandhills are already starting to gather at night for their fall migration
Further down along the draining J Pool...I spotted first three of the juvenile hooded mergansers...and then I found two more sleeping along the shore. So sweet to have these guys doing so well and giving out photo ops. There are also yellow-legs and solitary sandpipers enjoying the lowered pool.
It was fun to sit in the fog along G Pool watching one of the adults and the two chicks. One was being very adventurous...'taking off'...belly landing...bolting and posturing...and wing swimming....while the other begged its parent for food and then preened. What a privilege to be able to witness these young loons as they grow...ready to face the great big world out there.
I was excited to see another young merlin fly into a dead tree in front of me. I went past it...then shot back at it. The morning light showed off its beautiful eye. It's a great time to be at the Refuge. The young wildlife is just starting to try their wings...and find they still want someone to feed them.
On another run through the fog moved back in…making for some great scenery shots. I found a merlin being chased by a Northern harrier at the end of J channel. Then I caught a quick glance of the nighthawk hunting bugs in the marsh.
I found a pair of sandhill cranes in C marsh…then another pair flew in squawking. Further down I was excited to find an American bittern in the ‘dead pool’ we have only seen one other bittern and a great blue heron in this spot in the fifteen years we have been visiting the Refuge.
Before I left the Refuge a pileated flew by me…along with lots of Northern Flickers.
We didn’t get back to the Refuge till almost 7:00pm to 77 degrees and clouds. I’m finally finding some more bitterns in odd places.
We had a very fun night on the Refuge watching the Caspian terns on J Pool. All of a sudden two started screaming and fighting right in front of us. Totally awesome experience...and I was even able to capture most of it, too. You just never know what you will witness. There are about twenty of them living there...and a couple of young ones...recently fledged and driving their parents crazy begging for food. I love to hear their cronking especially when they're fighting.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge August 13, 2016
Back at our Happy Place tonight. I got out of work an hour early...but unfortunately the clouds were everywhere. Oh well, it's going to be a great three days off! Our first visit was with this great blue heron. Yeah!!! They have been so scarce...nice to see this one just hanging out.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge August 14, 2016
I started my day at 6:00am with 64 degrees and complete cloud cover…but it’s still nice to wake up with the wildlife all around. The sandhills were cackling…the osprey chicks screaming…loons hooting…trumpeter swans trumpeting…kingfishers chattering…perfect.
I found a lone loon again on H Pool. I’m almost certain its J Pool female taking a break from the limited water on her diminishing J Pool. There was a breach in the J/ I spillway that has been discovered and now being repaired. Thank goodness there is a deep channel that the loons can still catch fish for their chick.
It was great to find a pair of sandhill cranes with a grown colt on J Pool. Sadly we haven't had too many of them survive this year. It won't be long and they will be gathering to fly south. Where has the summer gone??
There was also the trumpeter swans with their two cygnets…a couple of the juvenile hooded mergansers…fighting kingfishers and lots of shorebirds and terns.
The G Pool loon family was all together feeding…no party going on there. The juvenile merlin was screaming as usual…and the eagle was in the feeding tree in E Pool.
There are lots of wood ducks throughout the Refuge. I can’t wait till the males don their handsome fall breeding plumage…soon. The ring-necked mommas are doing a good job with their young…along with the elusive pied billed grebes.
We were greeted by the F Pool loons. Daddy ABJ was tending the nine week old chick while momma was catching a treat...for herself
I spent midday with the J Pool loons. Due to a breach in the spillway...the pool has decreased causing the loons to be limited to the only deep channel. I spent over an hour with them while they preened...feed the chick...and watched both adults access the land to defecate....not a normal act for loons to perform on land. As I was leaving the loons…an American bittern flew out of F marsh…but away from me of course.
While I spent time with the J Pool loons on the Refuge...the trumpeter swans with their two surviving cygnets took a break nearby. Glad to see these two little ones doing well. We don't have too many cygnets that survived on the Refuge this year.
Our loons on C Pool are maintaining their mid-pool location…but the chick is doing well and growing fast.
Around 9:00am I found a small party of four loons on G Pool…but the two visitors left shortly after I stopped. Then I found another party of seven loons at the north end of D Pool…but they, too, were departing when I got there. Timing is everything.
I did get to spend a little time with D Pool chick and one adult later in the morning.
I did find an American bittern last night on the Refuge. It was quite dark...but at least I saw it. I love watching these unique little birds as they stalk their prey. It was a very cloud night with everything being quiet…but the sun did peek out right before it set. Tomorrow may be a better day.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal August 8, 2016
6:00am a cool 48 degrees and clear skies as I enter the Refuge.
Monday on the Refuge...the F Pool loons were waking with the new day. Always a treat to see what will greet me....the sounds of loons...sandhill cranes...trumpeter swans...geese...eagles...ospreys...kingfishers...terns...pretty much everything....making for a perfect morning.
Why is it that a female kingfisher would sit and let me get close enough to get photos...while it was barely daylight...but not when the lighting is better? Little stinker.
Another Seney Sunrise...Fire in the Fog. It makes getting up before the dawn worth it all.
While I was watching the G Pool loons entertaining "Greenie" last year's G Pool male....I found...actually I heard a young merlin. It was kind enough to sit and pose for me...as it was screaming for one its parents to come feed it.
I did find the D Pool parents out with their young…no party yet.
I was treated to a moment or two with the growing pied billed grebes....before they submerged and disappeared. It's amazing how fast they grow...already losing their downy feathers...but still with their calico striping.
I found the F Pool chick acting defensively Monday morning. I found the reason as I turned the corner. Daddy...ABJ...was dealing with an intruding loon.
Another treat from Monday morning...was having a handsome buck. He actually leapt across the road in front of me. I stopped...whistled and he stopped and watched me for several minutes before going on his way.
I found first a party of eight loons on D Pool...then another loon arrived...then two more….eleven loons…what fun! A perfect way to spend a morning at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. My loon party of eleven got active when two of them went into a yodel...then they started 'wing' swimming and calling. There is nothing more exciting then hearing these loons talking and carrying on. Perfect.
Then my loon party got even more fun. Two of the loons came bolting out of the water. Nothing more exciting then hearing them yodel and bolt up and down out of the water...posturing and posing for each other. While I was watching all of this a young eagle flew into a tree across D Pool…followed by an adult eagle. The loons weren’t too happy with that.
The loon party started to wind down as one by one and two by two the loons took off...walking across the water to get their heavy bodies airborne. The perfect way to spend my morning at Seney National Wildlife Refuge.
A male wood duck in eclipse was hanging out on a log on H Pool. I was able to get a few shots of him before he popped down into the water and swam away.
I was blest to spend over an hour with the J Pool loons. They allowed me to follow them down the channel and all the way back as they rested...fed and preened.
I was thrilled to find three little merlins sitting in this dead tree along the drive. They didn't seem to mind me taking a few shots of them...before moving on.
I found the young eagle again in the feeding tree at the west end of E Pool. I also found the young pied billed grebe and hooded merganser on H Pool hanging out together.
I hate to leave the Refuge on such a perfect day…but we’ll be back for a three day weekend next time.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal August 7, 2016
I arrived at 5:55 am to 53 degrees and clear skies. F Pool loons were out and about. A great blue heron was sitting in a dead tree along F Pool where one of the ospreys was hunting.
H Pool had a pair of sandhill cranes. Unfortunately they flew before the sun actually rose.
I found three sandhill cranes on J Pool along with the loons in their channel. Two kingfishers were chattering and chasing each other around.
Another morning...a completely different sunrise at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. That's what I love about nature...nothing is static...everything is ever changing. Makes every day an adventure
A foggy Sunday morning with 'Greenie' on G Pool. Last year's territorial male who is still trying to woo his lost love back from "Red" this year's male. Time will tell. I feel so bad for him. I'll give him one thing...he sure is persistent.
While I was spending time with "Greenie" on one end of G Pool...four loons flew over...then two more and landed at the far end of G Pool for a little early morning party.
While I was watching "Greenie" the loon on G Pool...I made a quick stop to take a close-up of one of thousands of beautiful spider webs throughout the Refuge. I'm totally fascinated with the intricacy of these creations by the web weavers...aka spiders.
I moved down to the "loon party" at the far end of G Pool...where I found the G Pool pair and six 'friends' hanging out in the fog. Unfortunately they were too far out for any really good shots. Most of the females are getting ready to head out sometime this month...but even the other loons...males and females like to take breaks from their 'babysitting' duties.
One of the eagles was in the feeding tree at the west end of E Pool. I had a bittern fly over me going from D to C marsh. Then I spotted another bittern in C Pool further down. Several ring-necked mommas have four to five growing chicks along C Pool.
I found a sandhill crane enjoying the early morning sunrise on F Pool. Her mate was back farther keeping an eye on the other side of the island. I pulled back to get her reflection in the water.
I was totally excited when I found F Pool loon family...aka ABJ's family...next to the shore morning. I thought for sure they would immediately move away from the shore. But...I think she was so happy with the fishing that she didn't hurry off. She'll be leaving soon...then I can spend more time with ABJ and his chick
Mr. ABJ came up close to me and I was able to get him sparkling in the early morning light. Thank you Mrs. ABJ for allowing him to get close to me.
Mrs. ABJ even let me snap a shot of her...after she surfaced from fishing. I think she forgot I was there...she was really in the posing frame of mind.
I found the H Pool trumpeter swan pair napping along the shore...in the sun...with a reflection...couldn't resist.
Back to the Refuge in the afternoon...I was delighted to find a female belted kingfisher. She was so engrossed in bathing and fishing that she didn't notice me sneak up on her. I got to spend a little time watching her before she saw me...and of course took off...chattering away.
I got to spend some time in the evening with my J Pool loon daddy. He is such a show off. It never fails that he goes into his preening mode...more than once while I'm watching him.
Mr. J Pool is one of my all-time favorite males now at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. Don't get me wrong...I love ABJ...but I totally connected with this wonderful daddy last year. And I'm still smitten.
Earlier in the summer I had found momma hooded merganser with her seven young chicks on the very same log and I now found two of the juveniles at. The seven chicks have grown up and fledged. We've been seeing them around the Refuge. So I was happy to find these two together enjoying the evening. I was able to quietly sneak up on them without disturbing them.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge August 2, 2016
One last early morning on the Refuge. I arrived at 6:00am with 56 degrees a thin line of clouds over the rising sun. The morning fog always makes for a mystical magical effect. Perfect.
ABJ and family were still in their same area. I found six sandhill cranes on H Pool in the fog. It wasn’t quite as special as yesterday morning but still fun to watch. The J Pool loons were down along the I drive so I decided to take a hike. Unfortunately I spooked a 2nd year eagle that was ‘watching’ them. The loons immediately started swimming away from the shore. So much for some magical foggy photos of my J Pool family. So I headed back down the trail. I spotted a pair of kingfishers fishing at the pier so I snuck down into the brush. Unfortunately, when I knelt down to get in a better position, I felt a sharp sting. A ground bee had gotten on my pants and when I knelt down I drove the stinger in to my leg. So I went and put some after bite on it. Well it wasn’t that bad…better than shutting my hand in the truck door like last week. Well at least while I was running back to the truck to tend my wound I spooked up an American bittern.
I found my 2nd year eagle sitting in a tree just down at the end of J Pool. Before I could even stop…it flew. Little stinker…it could have at least given me a photo op…since it spooked my loons.
I found G Pool loons entertaining two other loons. Daddy loon came over near the shore…riding high in the water. Before I knew it he was taking off…then one of the visitors took off. I snapped the pair of them crossing paths. Daddy chased the visitor out of the area….followed by the second intruder. I found the chicks quietly sleeping at the opposite end of the pool.
I found the eagles in the same area as yesterday at the start of C marsh but this time they were sitting in a dead tree right next to the drive. Amazingly I was able to sneak up and take shot of one of them…the other flew. I see what they were doing…two poor little ducks were trying to hide in the marsh.
I made another run through and found F Pool chick next to the drive!!! One of the parents was sleeping a little further out…probably ABJ…he can tolerate me.
I found another party of four on D Pool. They were a little far out but still watched them. The two visitors eventually flew off flying right over me.
Next time through I was thrilled to find yet another party of four on F Pool. Not too much action with this bunch…one flew off then came back. I eventually left them. A pair of sandhill cranes was feeding on a nearby island and a male northern harrier flew over then another pair of sandhill cranes while I sat and watched the loons.
I hadn’t seen a northern harrier all weekend then I saw my second one in H marsh. All the loons were still out taking care of business…too far out for photos. I did spot a young merlin on the drive through the woods at the end of J Pool.
Oh my gosh…I found them…pied billed grebe chicks…and one parent in the same area as yesterday. I was able to get some shots off of the chicks before they moved out too far. They are about half grown with still some of their calico downy feathers. There were at least two if not three. Yeah!
I left the Refuge at 12:30pm it was getting really hot and too many people.
Well before we headed home from our three day weekend we made one last run through the Refuge at 4:00pm. The clouds were starting to move in with temps in the 80’s. It wasn’t too busy by this time. I did get to spend time with J Pool momma and chick that were near the drive. Unfortunately the clouds started to move in. I also found several greater yellow-legs and lot of terns on J pool. We watched G Pool loon chicks exercising their wings…’swimming’ across the pool.
We ended our visit with a young buck out in the marsh feeding. He posed for us…then moved on his way through the marsh. Can’t wait till next weekend to see what new things we will discover.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge August 1, 2016
Another beautiful morning at the Refuge. I arrived at 5:45am with clear skies…and a lovely fog over the pools. ABJ family was sleeping in the same area as yesterday morning. I had the most fun sitting and watching nine sandhill cranes on a small spit of land on H Pool. They would walk across the water to another island…then back. Finally as the sun rose…they became more vocal and mobile. Eventually they lifted off and flew to the east. I was able to get some lovely shots of them. The territorial pair remained behind…continuing to feed.
As I rounded the H channel area…the sun shining through the fog and the thousands of cobwebs was totally mystical. Nature is always surprising and amazing me at its unique beauty around every corner.
I did see all of my loons but too far out for photos. Three young merlins were screaming around G Pool. As I was rounding C marsh an eagle flew up into a tree in the middle of the marsh. To my surprise there was the mate sitting in another tree. Looks like they have a new hunting spot…duck looked to be on the menu.
As went further down C Pool four loons flew over. Looks there is going to be a loon party somewhere around the Refuge. Hope I can see it. Well, I did see a small party at the end of C Pool. The C Pool loon was close to the shore while its parents were out entertaining a visitor.
I made another quick run through…taking the Marshland Drive I spotted the East end loon family near the shore. I was able to get a few shots before the parents called them away. A lone eagle was sitting sentry in its favorite pine tree. As got closer to the end of E Pool I heard loons calling. A 2nd year eagle was flying over where the two chicks were out near an island. The parents were further away around the corner.
I spotted two pied billed grebes in C Pool but it doesn’t look like they have chicks. They have been very elusive this summer.
I ended my morning at 9:00am. I hated to leave but we were taking an adventure around Lake Superior on this beautiful day.
I made it back on the Refuge at 7:00pm with 87 degrees and hot. I found a blue-winged teal female in the channel across from F Pool. A beaver was enjoying the lily pads, too. I was also entertained by a young crow learning to fly.
As I got to the C Pool sign…I found an American bittern!! I was able to sit and observe it for quite a while before someone came up behind me. Then I found them…two pied billed grebe chicks…right next to the shore. Sadly by the time I was able to pull over they disappeared….but I saw them and that was worth the drive through.
I did find a lone loon at the east end of E Pool. When the E Pool eagle flew over it yodeled. I love to hear them especially as the sun is setting. Then the west end loon chicks were out with one of their parents. I called it a night…ready to hit the hay to get up for one more morning on the Refuge.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal July 31, 2016
I woke before the alarm this morning anxious to start my morning on the Refuge. I wasn’t disappointed. A few clouds were in the east…which actually made for a very colorful and dramatic sunrise. I entered the Refuge at 5:30am with 51 degrees and a slight east breeze.
The F Pool loons were still sleeping as I waited for the sun to rise over F Pool. I was treated to a trumpeter swan gliding in front of me as I photographed the amazing pinks in the predawn sky…and the slight fog over the pools. Loons were calling throughout the Refuge along the sandhill cranes...Canada geese….trumpeter swans…terns and everything else….that’s why I love this time of day.
I then headed down to H Pool where I found two pair of sandhill cranes wakening with the day…cackling their greetings to others around the Refuge. The beavers were busy along with the ospreys whose chicks were calling to be feed already.
I stopped and watched the sun actually rise through a bank of clouds over J Pool with the loon family. The colors had changed from pinks to oranges by this time…and the ground fog moved in thicker making for some very dramatic shots. The loons were very accommodating…gliding in front of me…the male actually preened for me.
I found the young red-tailed hawk along the J channel hunting...where I also heard the screaming of several young merlins begging to be fed.
I found the two G Pool chicks quietly waiting for mom and dad to show up.
I found C Pool loons…trumpeter swans…ring-necked momma and five young…and lots of wood ducks.
On my second run through everything was moving away from the shore…F Pool loons…J Pool loons. I found momma loon in the channel. She actually flew off as daddy and junior were out feeding closer to the drive. While I was watching daddy feed junior a greater yellow-leg flew in. The kingfishers were out playing games with me….little buggers.
As I rounded G Pool I spotted a lone loon at the north end. At first I thought it was probably ‘’Greenie” last year’s male who has been stalking his old mate and territory. But it started to preen…and it was the G Pool male. The water was like glass and I was able to get some lovely reflection shots of him.
As I left him I found his family next to the drive. I was so excited. They haven’t given me this kind of opportunity since they were little. I quickly snapped some reflections shots of both the growing chicks. Then the youngest one went out to its momma to beg for food. The older one is much more independent and likes to catch its own food. While I was watching them daddy took off and flew over me. Sweet. I love watching them walk on water to take off.
I was thinking maybe daddy G Pool had a ‘party’ to attend. So I was so excited when I discovered eight loons all gathered near the shore on D Pool!!! I was able to park and sneak out to sit in the brush to enjoy the show.
The loons are starting to be social…gathering…preparing for the time they will leave. The females are the first to leave…usually in August…followed by the males in September. The chicks won’t be ready to fly off till late September early October. Luckily some of the dads like ABJ will stay with their young till they are ready to head off to their wintering grounds.
I spent an amazing forty-five minutes watching the loons swim one way then another…posture…dive…and then BOLT out of the water. They did this several times almost in front of me!! It was totally awesome. The force in which they bolt out of the water is amazing. Eventually one by one they flew off back to their own pools and families. One of the most amazing mornings I have experienced!
I finished my morning with spotted a doe and fawn in the marsh along C Pool….and a female wood duck on a dead tree in Gray’s Creek Pool. By the time I left at 9:30am the clouds were moving in.
I came back on the Refuge at 6:00pm after a lovely mid-day with our black bears along the tracks of the Toonerville Trolley.
It was 78 degrees with a strong breeze and partly sunny…perfect evening. I got to spend time with C Pool loon chick…that is now going through the ugly duckling phase. The loon families were out enjoying time away from the drives. I stopped to shoot some pied billed grebes but was pushed off by an aggressive car. If people are here to enjoy the wildlife…why are they here? An eagle was out on the feeding tree at the west end of E Pool. Then I was excited to find a young great blue heron fishing in the C Pool marshes. I watched it catch a nice fish…and play with it awhile. I made one quick run through hoping to catch the setting sun…and was rewarded with a close shot of a male merlin that had just caught its dinner. I didn’t as much of the sunset as I wanted…another pushy car.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal July 23-26, 2016
Once we got to our Happy Place...aka Seney National Wildlife Refuge...the clouds moved in. But we still had an American bittern pose for us. Most of our loons were out too far for photos...but our C Pool loon family was right near the shore. I said 'hi' to them but didn't worry about taking any photos. I have tomorrow and Monday to spend some time with them.
SNWR Journal July 24, 2016
So my Sunday morning on the Refuge was rain delayed. I still made a run through around 8:00am. I was greeted by a pair of sandhill cranes at the entrance. The Caspian terns were out fishing and screaming around. Sadly the F Pool trumpeter swans only have two cygnets left of their original eight. The osprey chicks are getting bigger and should be ready to fledge soon.
All of the loon families were accounted for...but not close enough for photos....except for our lone D Pool chick that is just not quite five weeks. The adults must be out flying around stretching their wings...visiting other 'friends'.
I was happy to find a great blue heron feeding in C Pool...along with many wood ducks. It was in the same area last night. Hopefully, we will finally see a few more of them now on the Refuge...now the young should be fledged. Our little ring-necked mommas are busy with their little ones.
Well, it was gloomy but I did get some shots in the evening. I took some shots in the dark of a pair of intruding loons o D Pool last night at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. The territorial pair finally drove them into a corner...then...bam...out they flew...together...then flew into the sunset. So cool!! I don't even care that the shots are the greatest. You just never know what you will see and experience out with nature...gloomy night or not.
I was quickly getting out of the truck to shoot the sun which finally appeared right as it was setting. It was beautiful...red sky...gorgeous...but the truck door shut tight on my index and middle finger. Yep...it hurt...but I casually laid my camera on the ground...and proceed to unlatch the door. Ok I may have said a bad word...or two. But I luckily didn't break any bones...or have any open wounds...just a little discoloration. I iced it and went to bed...without getting a shot of the sunset.
SNWR Journal July 25, 2016
Of course I was up before daylight...despite my crushed fingers…on Monday morning.
Sandhill cranes were my greeters on this beautiful morning. They had flown in and pushed another pair off. I watched as they flew into the sunrise. This pair cackled and cackled...the perfect morning greeting.
Caspian terns and common terns were busy fishing. The J Pool loons were out in the middle of the pool.
Wood ducks seem to be just about everywhere on the Refuge. The males are still in eclipse…waiting for their handsome breeding plumage to grow.
Several little juvenile hooded mergansers were scattered around the Refuge. Looks like they have all separated from their mom and all gone their own way.
I love my sandhill cranes! I found a pair near the drive right after sunrise. I was lucky to get a quick shot off before they flew. A great Monday morning at Seney National Wildlife Refuge.
I was approaching G Pool when I found a single loon at the north end. I knew it wasn't one of the territorial pair. It was riding high in the water and on alert. I had a hunch that it was last year's G Pool male/daddy...double banded green. Poor guy he is still holding out hope that he can reclaim his territory and old mate. While I was watching him...another un-banded loon flew in. Then all of a sudden they both took off. The reason...the G Pool territorial pair were flying over. Well, they all took off and flew till I couldn't see them anymore. Cool. I love my loons.
I actually saw eight of the ten chicks. The east end E Pool chicks weren't near the shore but I know they are doing fine. They are the oldest....having hatched on June 5.West end E Pool chicks hatched late June.
The one surviving chick on F Pool....ABJ's chick hatched June 7…One of the two G Pool loons hatched mid-June…D Pool loon chick hatched the 3rd week of June…D Pool momma had a crayfish...thought it was going to feed it to the chick...but it ate it…J Pool chick with momma hatched July 15 or 16.
I was blest with my share of sandhill cranes on Monday at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. A handsome fellow was just waiting for me along the drive. I even walked toward it...slowly...but it just continued to watch me...not stressed by my presence. I'm not sure how long we could have spent together because another car was pushing for me to move along. The sandhill flew away...but I was pleased to have spent a little time with it.
I found a northern harrier flying over B marsh. ABJ and his chick were out and about on my second run through. But the female appeared and they headed out away from the shore. The young kingbirds are busy learning how to hunt. The osprey parents are busy trying to feed their growing young. The great blue heron was out in H marsh. I found another northern harrier flying over H Pool. I even found a pied billed grebe on C Pool.
Then finally around 11:00 am on Monday I was treated to some up close time with our J Pool loons at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. Daddy was fishing near the pier while momma was watching Junior. I went and got down near the water and just enjoyed the moment. I spent more time observing and visiting with them then I did shooting. Sometimes you just have to be present and take in the all in.
Daddy J Pool loon came right up to me...fishing and diving. I love these moments. There is nothing more perfect then time spent with my wildlife especially at Seney National Wildlife Refuge.
Then...of course...Daddy J Pool went into his preening mode. I was zoomed out too much and clipped his wings...but got his head shake. He is such a handsome devil...and quite the show off. What a great way to spend my Monday morning with my wildlife at the Refuge.
I found a 2nd year eagle that is possibly last year's G Pool eaglet. It has been hanging around the Refuge since neither of the eagle nests on G or E Pool was successful this spring. Hopefully next season will be more successful for our eagles here.
I took one more run through around 1:30pm…but too many people. One guy was using a spotting scope…but he would jump out of his car…look…then quickly get back in and race away.
A little merlin flew over the end of G Pool. Then I found a pair of osprey that was very upset with a bald eagle. It appeared the osprey had a fish…the eagle caused it to drop it…then the eagle snatched it up out of the water. The poor ospreys tried to get it back but the eagle went up into a pine tree hiding in the lower branches to eat his plunder. Big bully….the ospreys have chicks to feed…the eagle just has itself.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge July 16, 2016
Back in our Happy Place tonight. The sun broke through some clouds to give us a lovely night. We saw most of our loons...all doing well.
Our J Pool loons had abandoned their first nest earlier in the season. So we waited and waited and waited for the little missus to finally choose another nesting site. I estimated the day of the hatching to be July 15-17. So on Saturday afternoon our friends Jean and Ken Rautiola confirmed one chick on J Pool! I couldn't wait to get up to see it. And as fate would have it...the sun was shining and they were right next to the shore for me.
I love it when I can get a family portrait...especially of my loons. The J Pool loons showed off their new little chick to. Last year this pair did virtually the same thing...had a failed earlier nest...then finally hatched a late chick....July 10...who survived and flew to its wintering grounds with its dad. This year July 16 isn't too much later. So hopefully with a long fall and good parents this little one will survive just as well.
Daddy loon is constantly preening...especially when he has an audience. At least this year he didn't kick his little chick in the head with his waggling foot.
Then Michael spotted this American bittern in the shadows. I was able to get a few shots before he flew off. He nabbed a treat through this lily pad.
Well, my Happy Place got happier. We spotted four cars stopped ahead of us. The C Pool loons were out a little ways feeding Junior. Well...I got out and went down in the brush...the cars moved on. I talked to them...and...they slowly worked their way toward me. Yep...toward me. The sun was setting...casting some sweet light on them. Daddy C Pool loon... popped right up in front of me while I was hunkered down in the brush. This pair seems to feel safer when I talk to them. I'm always amazed when the respond to me. Not all of the loons do...especially ABJ's mate. She does NOT like me at all. If ABJ is out with his chick...he will respond positively to my voice. If she's around...he turns and heads away from me. Seriously
Seney National Wildlife Refuge July 17, 2016 My Sunday on the Refuge started out with a beautiful sunrise...even though there were a few clouds in the sky at 5:55am and 64 degrees. AJ and his family were coming in near the spillway on F Pool. Of course the Canada geese were everywhere. The eagle was in its tree on E Pool. A lone sandhill crane was out in J Pool. Then I found a lone great blue heron at the beginning of J channel. I had at least a few nice hours of daylight before the clouds completely moved in. But we were heading to the black bear research blind by that time and clouds work for us there.
The G Pool loon chicks were out and about with their parents. All of a sudden they went into their defensive mode. Sure enough...I look up and there is a loon flying over.
So here is the loon that flew over G Pool causing a stir yesterday morning. It's the double green banded male loon that was G Pool daddy last year. I have watched him flying over and land here in the past. Poor chap...trying to win back his mate and territory. Well he not only flew over and landed...but landed right where the family was gathered. That didn't go over too well with family though.
I even got a brief moment with ABJ and his five week old chick. It was brief because his mate was out farther telling him to get away from that 'creature'. She doesn't like me
I went back around to G Pool before I ended my visit on the Refuge. I found the 'kids' hanging out near the shore. But they quickly moved away. That's what they are supposed to do...when they feel threatened. Mommy and daddy were just flying back into the Pool from taking a morning break. They have been leaving these two alone for almost three weeks now...since they weren't even two weeks old. I think this new daddy is more of a playboy.
The chicks are definitely in the midst of their 'ugly' duckling stage. Another a couple of weeks and their old down will be replaced by their adult gray and white plumage.
A momma kingfisher was busy watching her mischievous fledglings. I was able to shoot her...from a distance in this beautiful serene setting.
A bald eagle was being chased by two Eastern Kingbirds at the end of E Pool. The osprey was standing guard over its young that looks to be almost ready to fledge.
The common terns are fishing everywhere around the Refuge. Love to hear their little squeaking.
I found sandhill cranes in B marsh…I think they were trying to discourage me from finding their colt.
Kingfisher young are fledged and flying and screaming everywhere. I was excited to find a pied billed grebe at the end of C Pool.
7:10am ABJ was close to the shore with his young…but…his mate called him away from me. The F Pool trumpeter swan family was feeding in the marshes.
I found yet another pied billed grebe in the J channel.
A poor momma ring-necked duck was startled when C Pool male loon came up amongst them to scare them away from his territory. The C Pool loon momma and chick were near the shore…but poor lighting so I only said hi then moved on.
We came back in the afternoon after the rain dissipated around 5:30pm but it was still cloudy and windy.
It was lovely to find our three fledged Eastern Kingbirds posing for us. Even though they have fledged...they still would like their parents to bring them treats.
ABJ and chick out and about…E Pool eagle still in its tree. Cedar Waxwings are flitting about. H Pool trumpeters swan with their one sole surviving cygnet was out and about. Merlins…kingfishers…loons on G and C and a lone loon at the end of C Pool were our evening entertainment despite the dark gloom and then rain.
In the evening the storm clouds moved in but was still able to spend almost an hour with the J Pool family and their two day old chick. As always it was a thrill to have them feel safe enough around me to come up and show off their little one. The chick spent most of its time on momma's back. Perfect.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal July 18, 2016
Monday morning on the Refuge...perfect! I arrived at 5:50am with temperature at 59 degrees and winds WNW. The F Pool trumpeter swans and their four cygnets were up and about. The rising sun...and sandhill cranes...what could be better. Then they cackled.
I enjoyed the early morning just watching my sandhill cranes...then the perfect moment...they flew. Of course I could only shot one of them...and they flew away from me...but still perfect. While I was watching them I had a kingfisher…a northern harrier…a loon…then three loons fly over. Yes…a great way to start the day.
Well by Monday morning the sun came out...and I took a hike. I spent over an hour with this beautiful little family. Momma J Pool loon kept the baby on her back most of the time except when daddy came to feed it. And they stayed right in front of me!!! I never had to move from where I was in the brush!!
We are so lucky that the J Pool loons successfully re-clutched and hatched their chick. This seems to be this pair's style...as we have watched them for at least the last three years...once on H Pool while J Pool was drained and the last two years on J Pool.
All of a sudden momma went down in defensive mode. Sure enough something was flying over us. It was daddy loon coming in and landing right near his family. I guess he caught us all off guard. I love how the chick just sat there as calm as could be. Moments like this don't come along every day...so it makes it that much more special when I can be there...and capture it, too.
After daddy flew in and startled momma…momma loon gave him a look like 'where have you been?' Daddy did some preening...then some fishing for the chick...then left momma and baby while he went out to fish for himself. To give him some credit...his time with the chick will be coming soon. Momma will leave later in August...and daddy will be left to tend the chick until its ready to take care of itself.
Momma and baby both gave daddy 'the look'. He was busy zipping his feathers and preening...while they patiently waited for him to bring some food to the chick...and give momma a break. Well, he did eventually bring some food...but didn't give momma much of a break.
I found a single hooded merganser in the H channel across from the fishing pier. A Wilson snipe flew over the end of J Pool.
Three kingfishers were playing along J channel. There are wood ducks all over the Refuge. The males are now in their eclipse...having molted their beautiful breeding plumage…until fall.
The two G Pool loon chicks born over a month ago…are so different. The one is totally independent...catching its own dinner...a very large fish. The other is still waiting for its parents to feed it. I laughed when the parent brought it just a wee fishy. I think the parents may be hoping that it will decide it should get its own dinner.
I found one of the D Pool loons at the north end of the pool…and the other adult and chick near the osprey nesting area where the adult was watching the young.
I've been seeing a pair of sandhill cranes in the same area the last couple of weeks. I'm pretty sure it's the pair with a colt. Every time a see them they are very vocal and try to get me away from where I'm sure the colt was hiding. I just take a quick photo and move away. I'm so glad to know that we have at least one surviving colt on the Refuge. Hopefully we will find a few more before fall.
My C Pool loons have been staying near their old nesting area…but the lighting wasn’t worth bothering them. So I just admired them then moved on.
I spotted a sweet innocent fawn as it came down to get a drink of water. It's starting to grow out of its spot...and seemed to be on its own. But I'm sure momma was not far away.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal July 12, 2016
I was up and on the Refuge by 5:45am. The clouds were thick…the wind strong… and the temperature at 74 degrees and muggy.
ABJ and his family were out and about with an osprey hovering over F Pool. Another osprey was fishing around the corner of F Pool.
A pair of sandhills was on an island on H Pool…as a male northern harrier flew by.
The J Pool loon was out and about along with a sandhill crane…and the trumpeter swans with their five growing cygnets.
The Common terns were enjoying the gusting winds on G Pool…where the loon family was back feeding near the spillway.
The osprey chicks are still in their nests throughout the Refuge….keeping their parents very busy.
The sun peeked out for a minute at 6:25am. Our C Pool loons were sleeping so I didn’t bother them. I have some amazing shots from earlier in the weekend in good lighting.
I found a pair of sandhill cranes on an island on B Pool along with trumpeter swans with two good sized cygnets.
Another run through…this time I took the Marshland Drive. Sandhills were on an island in F Pool…where an osprey was fishing.
The E Pool eagle was in its sentry tree. The east end E Pool loons were out a little farther. A doe ran across the drive in front of me…no fawn.
I found one of the west end E Pool loons feeding the young near the shore…but they quickly moved away once I stopped.
Loons are flying around the Refuge…the Canada geese and their growing goslings are everywhere.
Once again the wood ducks are feeding throughout the Refuge which is wonderful to see. They have been scarce the last couple of years. Hopefully, they will still be here in the fall…the males in their handsome breeding plumage.
The scent of the blooming milkweeds is so intoxicating. I can understand what draws the monarch butterflies to them.
It nice to see some of our trumpeter swans still have some of their cygnets although still not as many as they started with. We thought with the eagles not have young this year a few more would have survived. But then it could be snapping turtles or northern pike that took them.
I was excited to find a momma hooded merganser with seven almost fully grown chicks. She has kept them hidden from us…and predators. Well done.
D Pool loons were near the shore…or so I thought. When I didn’t see the chick I got worried. Then I realized…one of them was an intruder. It suddenly took off…then the D Pool loon followed. They both flew around then landed back where the other D Pool loon was. They had a little confrontation till the intruder finally took off.
I ended my time at the Refuge with loons flying overheard. We decided to head over to check on the Caracara at Munising before heading home…but it had been frightened off by men working along the river with big equipment.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal July 11, 2016
We had made plans to meet up with the Rautiolas...but the weather was not co-operating. So after a leisurely morning we made a quick venture on to the Refuge. Everything was quiet. The loons were all out too far for photo ops. It seemed the wildlife was hunkered down to endure whatever the weather had planned…rain…storms. .
We finally decided to take a trip to Munising to check on the caracara. It seemed it, too, was hunkered down somewhere out of the weather.
Later in the day we made another run through the Refuge. We were delighted to find the F Pool trumpeter swans still have four healthy cygnets. They originally had eight. They were taking an afternoon nap along the F marsh. We enjoyed some time with them before moving on.
On our second run through we were finally given an opportunity to see and photograph an American bittern. Yeah! We then took the Marshland Drive to check on the E Pool loons. We found the East end loons out with their month old chicks near the E/C spillway. Then we watched a female osprey catch a fish. The West end loons were out…not too close to the shore as typical. But it was nice to see both chicks doing well.
We were happy to find a pair of sandhill cranes out in B marsh with a good sized colt…but they weren’t willing to be photographed.
I did get to spend a little time with C Pool daddy and chick. It was fun to watch dad bring fish to the chick. He would ram it in the chicks face. The poor chick had to back away. He didn’t it not once but frequently. I guess he was still getting the knack of parenting. You would have thought he would have learned from his awesome father…ABJ.
Well, the sun came out full force…so we had to make one more run through. We were so glad we did. We found the J Pool male out near the shore…preening. He put quite a show on for us.
Then as the sun disappeared…of course…the D Pool loons with their one chick were finally up near the loon observatory. It was great to see them…without having to hike to the back of the pool where they usually hang out.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal July 9, 2016
We made it back to our Happy Place for a lovely run through before dark. My elusive American bittern first flew by us...without a photo. We then found one hiding in the bushes...and that one flew off, too.
We did get a quick distance glimpse of F Pool loons...one of the east end E Pool loons...a lone loon on H Pool and the G Pool loon family. Then right before the sun set we found the C Pool family near the shore feeding their chick. It is so great to see this family doing so well after their rough start
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal July 10, 2016
I was up before the sun to enjoy another awesome morning at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. It was 53 degrees and partly cloudy at 5:45am. There wasn’t a lot a lot of action...but it's about the experience...waking up with nature...in quiet and solitude
A common tern was already out fishing over H Pool. I found a single sandhill crane on the drive along J channel. It flew to the south. I watched at it landed out in the meadow where its mate and growing colt were feeding…with not one but two does. I’m not sure if the does had fawns…the grass was too tall…hopefully.
The beaver were out enjoying the cool early morning. A single hooded merganser was back in the channels at the end of H marsh.
I did find the two G Pool chicks back by the spillway. The parents must have been out taking a break. Hopefully they weren’t too far away…because a bald eagle was sitting in the feeding tree at the west end of E Pool…close to G Pool where the chicks were.
Poor Dumb and Dumber the ospreys in B marsh lost their nest to the severe weather from Friday. Hopefully they didn’t have viable eggs. It was very sad to see Mrs. Dumb flying around crying.
I did find a great blue heron in the marshes along C Pool. Of course it flew before I could get my camera up. The wood ducks were feeding in the same area.
I spent an amazing hour with our C Pool loons. This pair has had a hard time figuring out just how to have a successful nest. Actually...she has had a hard time. He is ABJ's seventeen year old son...she is a newbie. They have only been together three years...since his mate passed away incubating their nest. She has a history of being very skittish...having abandon their first nest this year when there was too many human intrusions. But...finally...they have their first successful chick. Both parents are being very diligent....as you can see here.
While I was watching the loons daddy called from the distance….the reason…a bald eagle fishing over the Pool.
It was a magical time spent just watching as momma C Pool loon stayed with the young while dad went off...two different times...coming back when it was time to feed the chick again. She has become an amazing momma after not having been successful the last two years. It's wonderful to see her overcome her nervous tendencies and finally have her maternal instincts kick in. And I feel so privileged to be allowed to witness this up close and personal. Call me loony...but I truly think we have a rapport. If she starts to move away...I can talk to her and she will make her way back closer to where I am...down in the brush. She was so patient as the little one pulled her feathers...trying to wake her up.
There were lots of wood ducks feeding in the marsh near the end of the drive. It was nice to finally see so many of them.
As I started my second run through the sun was starting to peek out. A single loon landed on H Pool while the trumpeter swan had their one surviving cygnet out feeding. And a noisy kingfisher was out fishing.
While I was looking for our G Pool loons on my second run through...I was excited to find six loons starting a 'party'. They were soon joined by a seventh loon...then an eighth loon. The 'party' went on for over a half an hour. Unfortunately they worked their way to the back of the pool where they bolted and dived. These shots are heavily cropped. One day I hope they party will be a little closer to shore.
The loons are starting to socialize...the females will be leaving in August...the males later in September. The males will tend the chicks...some will actually stay till the chicks are ready to fly south in October. ABJ is one of those daddies that will stay till the chicks are ready to leave.
Well, the C Pool loons were still close to the shore. Another pair of photographers was out with their big lens on tripods…being very quiet and professional I snuck down into the brush to photograph the loons enjoying every moment with them. I finally decided to give them their space and went happily on my way.
We headed back to the black bear research blind…ending up going back a second time. We had an amazing time with them. Check out my Soo Junction Journal.
We didn’t make it back on the Refuge…calling it a day…so we could be rested for the next two days here.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal July 4, 2016
Now for my wonderful 4th of July spent at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. I arrived at the Refuge by 5:45am…48 degrees with a few clouds in the east. My day started before sunrise with ABJ's family in the predawn fog. I think it has subtle hues of red, white and blue....perfect for the day.
My 4th of July kept getting better when I found H Pool sandhill crane family on a small island near the road. I waited patiently for the sun to rise. My patience paid off...and was even rewarded when the family decided to swim across the pool to another outcropping. I so love my sandhills...especially in the golden morning light.
The G Pool loons were out too far for photos. An osprey was fishing over the pool. Then I spotted D Pool loons out by their nesting island. They like to remain at the back of the pool.
My early morning seranader was on his tree at his usual time...7:30am. He still hasn't listened to me about showing himself later in the day when the lighting is better. Oh well, one of these days. The sun was shining bright and beautiful.
I was delighted to find our C Pool loon family fairly close to the shore...at least enough to enjoy their company. Their little one was hatched last Monday...the second chick didn't make it through its first day. It was even made better when the little one decided to climb up on momma's back.
My 4th of July just kept getting better. Later in the morning I was able to spend some quality time with our G Pool loon family. It's always rewarding when I can quietly hunker down in the brush and observe them.
Daddy G Pool came up to join the family. He came quite close to me...preening and wagging his leg. They wag their legs to help them regulate their body temperatures. He is proudly showing his patriotic colors on the 4th of July...red leg band...blue water and white belly.
Later in the day on the 4th of July we found some young Cedar Waxwings. One young one was quite comical and a real poser. The blowing wind made for some great 'hair styles'.
Just before we were ready to leave the Refuge to make our trek back downstate...I once again found the C Pool loons...momma with her chick tucked under her wing.
Daddy finally arrived with a small fishy but baby wasn't ready to come out from under its momma's wing.
Daddy didn't seem to know what to do with it...he put it back in the water to readjust it to try again.
They made my 4th of July a very happy day!! This pair had a rough start this spring. They had made their first nest too close to the drive. The female was too skittish and all of the human intrusion caused her to abandon her two eggs. Sadly people don't realize that wildlife is just that...wild. Too much noise and people approaching them haphazardly...causes them to feel threatened. Sorry...but I feel it's important to educate people. If you are going to spend time in their 'home'...learn their habits...respect them and their space. We are privileged to be even allowed on this Refuge. It's a privilege we shouldn't take for granted.
After daddy and momma fed the little one…daddy loon preened…then headed back out to enjoy some down time. It was wonderful to see this momma being so good with her little one. This is their first successful hatching in three years. I’m hoping she has finally got the hang of things…and will continue to take care of this precious little life. It was an amazing way to celebrate our Independence Day…with our amazing wildlife at Seney National Wildlife Refuge.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal July 3, 2016
I was up before the sun yesterday so I could get to the Refuge and welcome the day by 5:50am. The temps was at 49 degrees with a southwest breeze and heavy fog. I love when the fog hangs over the pools...making for a mystical scene...especially when the loons are involved. I was happy to find ABJ...his mate...and remaining chick there to welcome me.
One of my favorite creatures to capture in the early morning light and fog is the sandhill crane. To hear their voices through the misty is truly haunting. The sunrise penetrating the fog made for fun shooting.
While I was photographing the sandhills in the fog...I looked up to see the gray ghost aka male northern harrier…flying by...looking right at me!! I love these beautiful raptors.
While I was photographing the one pair...I realized I had had another pair...and their colt on the other end of the island!!! I was so excited. Once the parents realized there was another pair they started yelling at them. Well, lucky me...the pair being yelled at lifted off and flew away into the foggy sunrise.
While I was photographing my foggy sandhills a common loon went flying over H Pool. He is a double green banded loon which was the male G Pool loon last year...but got beat out by the red banded male. I have seen him flying all around the Refuge. I think he is pining for his lost love.
I was rounding G Pool...two loons flew over me. By the time I got my camera up...they were gone. I found the two chicks at the far end of the pool...by themselves. Yep...their parents went on an early morning cruise and left the little ones alone to fend for themselves. Luckily they have learned to dive and move away from the shore if they feel threatened.
I also found young kingfisher squawking along G Pool, too.
Then as I was heading over to D Pool...my green banded loon flew over me again...this time right over the top of me!! Poor guy I feel bad for him. Maybe next year he will find another mate and settle down on another pool and have chicks.
I did find quite a few wood ducks throughout the Refuge. The males are in eclipse…molted their handsome breeding plumage. But by August they will start molting back into the fall breeding plumage.
As I made my way around the Refuge for a second time I decided to take the Marshland Drive. I hadn't seen the east end E Pool loon family for a while so I was excited to get to visit them. The water was like a mirror as daddy came in with a nice fishy for one of the growing chicks. They are a month old now and starting to go through the ugly duckling stage.
Our friends...Jean and Ken found E Pool had a nesting pair of loons on the west end. And Saturday they had two healthy chicks. I was delighted to find them close enough to shore for a few shots. One baby was riding on the back...the other tucked securely under the parent's wing. That makes nine loon chicks. We had eleven but F Pool lost one of theirs at three weeks old and C Pool lost one of theirs at less than a day old. This is an amazing amount of success if these all survive to adulthood.
On my third trip through the Refuge...the little Wilson snipe was at his post. He loves to sit in this dead tree and call out his warnings every morning. I told him to do it later in the afternoon when the lighting was better...but he didn't listen to me. The sun is shining and the temperature is near 80 degrees.
It was a perfect morning. And I got to spend a little time with ABJ and his family. One of the parents is keeping an eye on the one remaining chick at all times. It was so sad to lose the other chick at three weeks old.
Our three little Eastern Kingbird chicks have definitely out grown their little nest in just a week. They fledged later in the day. I am always amazed at how quickly they turn from featherless blobs to these beautiful feathered young. Nature is truly amazing.
I was so excited to see a pair of fawns at the end of C Pool. They were signaled by their mom to leave...whitetails raised high heading down the trail to E Pool.
After our visit with the Crested Caracara on Sunday...we made an evening run through the Refuge. We found a pair of sandhill cranes enjoying the lovely evening hour before sunset.
Our evening was made perfect with some time spent with our C Pool momma and her week old chick.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal July 2, 2016
We made it back at our Happy Place tonight. What a gorgeous night...the clouds moved out...the sun was out...and no wind. We found our nest filled with three very fat Eastern Kingbird chicks....and two parents very busy feeding them.
Then we found our G Pool loon family...all together and doing very well. Daddy showed me his good side in the setting sun.
We would have loved to stay and enjoy the setting sun...but sadly we had four vehicles filled with drinking...fishing...families...playing loud music...disturbing the loons that were feeding near the shore...and ignored us when we told them they weren't supposed to be fishing past the Fishing Loop exit. One of them had even commented on the sign as they flew by us as we waited for them. Why...why...why did they come on a wildlife Refuge? There are plenty of lakes and rivers in the area to fish and get rowdy on.
At least we got to enjoy the male C Pool loon as the sun was getting lower in the sky. It helped to sooth our souls...a little. Hopefully they won't return tomorrow night.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge June 27, 2016
Monday the sun rose beautifully on Refuge...but unfortunately it didn't last long. The clouds moved in within a half hour....but at least I was on my Refuge.
During the brief moments the sun shone I was able to capture a sandhill flying across H Pool. He landed along the marsh and started to hunt for breakfast. Puff balls were on the menu.
I did find my G Pool loon family...once clouds moved in Monday morning. It was great to see the chicks growing and healthy...that's more important than a great photo...which I actually was blest to get last week.
I took a hike to the back side of D Pool to check on our loon family. I wasn't disappointed. Momma loon had the chick on her back. Daddy had been out and about. A lone loon flew over and both parents got worried. They sent the chick diving. It ended up back near me. After the threat was gone...both parents returned to where the chick was...back near me.
The best part of the morning came when I stopped at C Pool. The one of the loons was off the nest...the other one on the nest. It wasn't long before the parent went over with a minnow to lure the new chick off the nest. Both parents spent time with it...then the other got back on the nest. The chick wasn't happy about being off the nest and tried to get back up. The nest was so high that the chick had difficulty trying to get back up. The parent on the nest cried and the other parent wasn't much help. Eventually the little tyke made it back on the nest while the parent incubated the other egg.
Midday we were treated to a male Northern shoveler with the female…the male blue-winged teal was still there, too. The male shoveler is looking a little worse for wear. His breeding plumage is starting to molt by the looks of it. But it was still great to see him.
Later in the afternoon back with the C Pool loons. One was still on the nest...the other was patrolling the waters. A mallard flew over and almost landed...and the loon went into its defensive mode.
I was privileged to watch the C Pool chick get on its momma's back...and eventually show itself. There is nothing more precious than spending time with a new family. T7 the male is the 17 year old son of ABJ. His mate died a few years ago while nesting. This new mate is very skittish and they haven't been successful till this year. Unfortunately I got word the second chick hatched but was too weak to eat...floating on its side. It sadly didn't survive...nature can be cruel.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge June 26, 2016
We woke up to a rainy morning...so no early morning at the Refuge. So we headed back to the black bear research blind.
We finally arrived on the Refuge at 3:30pm it was mostly sunny with a breeze and 83 degrees. The wildflowers are beautiful…wild yarrow…milkweed…daisies etc. Canada geese and their growing goslings are everywhere. We were very excited to find a female Northern Shoveler hanging out with a male blue-winged teal.
We were even happier to find a great blue heron in F Pool. Hopefully it will be one of many. Wilson snipes were flying around.
The C Pool female loon was enjoying her last moments of being child-free. By Monday morning they hatched their successful chick together. The male is 17 years old...and lost his mate 3-4years ago. This will be this pair’s first successful nest.
A very special treat for us was finding our F Pool trumpeter swans with still seven of their eight cygnets. They even all came together and formed a line behind their momma. Usually they are going helter skelter
I did get to spend a little time with this female common yellow throated warbler at the Refuge. It's always fun when you can capture one of these quick little birds especially in the evening light.
We found the sandhill crane family with their growing colt in C marsh. So glad to see them.
It was nice to see some deer out and about around. We didn't see any fawns...but that doesn't mean they aren't there.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge June 20, 2016
After a morning rain...it turned into a beautiful day...except for the winds. I arrived on the Refuge around 7:50am with 70 degree temps. The north winds blew in and the birds hunkered down on the back side of the pools.
ABJ and his family were just making their way out to the backside of F Pool.
I heard it before I saw it...this Wilson snipe was protecting his territory. I am always happy to see these elusive little guys...even more excited when they are in a tree.
Our little Eastern kingbirds were guarding their nest along E Pool. The osprey parents are busy fishing to feed their young.
A pair of sandhill cranes was going through their morning cleaning on an island in E Pool.
I love finding a wood duck that is willing to get its picture taken. This one posed for a few minutes before taking off. Then I found one on C Pool 'smelling' the lilies so to speak. Ok he was actually eating the lilies. Looks like the insides are the tastiest bits.
Later in the day still not a lot of action. The winds are gusting to 16mph. One of the Eastern kingbirds was feeding their little ones. Looks like the G Pool trumpeter swans have lost all of their cygnets…so sad. I didn’t see the loon family all day long. So I am so glad I got to spend so much time with them yesterday.
We spotted a night hawk flying over F Pool around 2:00pm. Everything is pretty hunkered down from the gusting winds.
We did find a doe along H marsh channel. She was licking her newborn fawn. But sadly we couldn’t see it but for a second when the doe finally moved away from us.
The dust was getting so bad in the winds that we actually had to keep the windows rolled up…which totally defeats the purpose of being here. So we sadly left around 3:30pm to head back down across the Bridge.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge June 19,2016
I was up before the sunrise...but the sun didn't show up till twenty minutes after sunrise. Oh well, it was a beautiful morning at Seney National Wildlife Refuge...temperature in the sixties. The first hour isn't about the wildlife...it's more about soaking up the atmosphere...calm...serene...stress-free....except if I get upset with myself for missing a shot.
The eagle was manning his post on the nest island on E Pool. No sign of E Pool loons. The common terns were screaming around H Pool.
The J Pool loon is still patrolling the area near an island where we assume his mate is nesting.
The common terns were on their stumps on J Pool as usual.
A kingfisher teased me along the H channel…but would stay still long enough for a photo op.
The wood ducks are scattered throughout the Refuge…starting their eclipse out of their beautiful spring breeding plumage.
Wilson snipes are calling everywhere…standing guard over their nesting areas.
We were excited Saturday night and again on Sunday to meet our newest little loon member. D Pool loons hatched out one chick sometime Friday or Saturday. Yeah...seven loon chicks so far at Seney National Wildlie Refuge. I was hoping to get a closer look at the little tyke...but the parents kept it out near their nesting island all weekend.
I enjoyed an early morning moment with T7 the C Pool male loon as he patrolled the area near his nesting mate.
I ticked off a pair of sandhill cranes that were taking a leisurely morning stroll along the drive. One flew back into the marsh they had just come out of...the other flew around me...then back to the marsh. Maybe a colt??
The young trumpeter swans seemed to be getting along a lot better yesterday morning on F Pool. But I'm sure this will last about as long as with any other siblings.
I was excited to keep sneak up on these two male wood ducks. One is a young male....the other a male going through eclipse...molting out of his spring breeding plumage. He will eclipse back into his fall breeding plumage in August.
I also ticked off about eight families of Canada geese along H Pool out feeding their young along the drive. It has definitely been an amazing year for goslings...most of them have at least three...some more.
I found my J channel beaver couple out enjoying the gorgeous morning, too. She went back into her lodge to tend the young while he grabbed a quick bite
I stopped to enjoy the many wild irises aka flags growing throughout the Refuge.
And then my morning...day...week was made when I found the G Pool loons hanging out close to the shore. Momma had one of the chicks on her back...and the other with its head tucked under her wing.
I was able to sneak down into the bushes without her seeing me. I like to keep a very low profile so they won't feel threatened by my presence. If they are comfortable...then I am able to spend more time with them. Daddy showed up to help feed the waking chicks on G Pool
Finally the chick under momma's wing woke up and had a good stretch. They are just so adorable...it's hard not to go...'awwww' out loud while shooting them.
While I was watching the G Pool loons...another loon flew over...causing quite a ruckus. It almost landed...then decided against it. This caused the G Pool loons to move away from me. Unfortunately one of the chicks stayed back.
So after the intruder went away at G Pool...the adults finally starting feel safe again...and went back in search of their other chick...which was closer to me
After reuniting with their chick...it was feeding time...and they were slowly getting closer to me.
My G Pool loons came closer…And they came closer. I had to pull my zoom back...and quickly.
The G Pool loon chicks came floating by me. What a treat to have them so near.
I was in total heaven when the G Pool loons came in so close I had to pull back to 300mm. The thrill of having them feel so safe with me there was my true reward. I could sit all day...just watching them. To me it's not just about the photo...it's about the experience.
G Pool daddy loon was feeding one of the chicks...when he all of a sudden ...took off. He scared the heck out of me. I was so surprised that he did this...no clue that it was coming. One moment he was feeding a chick...the next he was walking on water! He circled around but continued until he totally disappeared. I guess he had done his duty and it was time to feel the wind beneath his wings.
C Pool trumpeters swan have only one cygnet…but the end couple have four yet. I left the Refuge at 9:00am to head over to the black bear research blind.
We came back around 2:00pm to 86 degrees and humidity. Thank goodness there was a breeze although the dust was thick.
We found fledgling pileated woodpeckers but not great photo ops. The F Pool trumpeter swans still have at least six cygnets but they were too far out for a complete count.
We found ABJ and his family but they immediately swam away from the shoreline. Little buggers. I did spot an American bittern flying over the pool while I was watching the loons. Also the osprey parents were being kept busy throughout the Refuge.
Then later in the afternoon today...I spent more time with the G Pool loon family at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. Once again they were working their way right to me...till an eagle approached and got them upset. But I was able to get some amazing shots of them all...especially the chicks.
I also got to see my H Pool trumpeter swan family. They have lost one cygnet…but four is a good number. Hopefully they will make it.
So....ABJ...the oldest known banded loon at 29 years old...has been elusive...at least with me...since he and his mate hatched their chicks thirteen days ago. But...finally tonight...I got to spend some quality time with him and his two chicks. When I first approached...he was starting to swim away. Then I settled in the brush and calmly talked to him. It was amazing...he slowly made his way closer...yep closer. Seriously...I think he remembers my voice...I know...I'm loonier than he is. But I have spent many hours with him in the past....so maybe...just maybe he really does remember. Well...that's my story and I'm stickin' to it. It made a perfect ending to Father's Day...with one of the best dads around...after mine.
I found the male blue-winged teal out enjoying the lovely evening. He is still patrolling the same area where his mate is nesting. Soon there should be little ones.
I was so excited to find not one but two different sandhill crane colts. One was in C marsh and the other was our H marsh family. Hopefully there are a few more around the Refuge
Another little treasure we found at Seney National Wildlife Refuge was a nesting pair of Eastern kingbirds. I found one of them protecting the little ones from the harsh winds.
I caught a movement in the marsh...and out popped this beautiful doe. Hopefully she has a fawn hiding nearby.
I had hoped to stay and watch a beautiful sunset…but the clouds moved in about twenty minutes before it set. Just like in the morning…the sun showed up from behind the clouds about twenty minutes after it rose. It didn’t matter…I had an awesome day on the Refuge. Life is Great!
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal June 13, 2016
I woke to rain and with a headache…so I hunkered back down to see if the rain would ease up. I finally got the Refuge around 8:30am to spritzing raindrops…clouds and 53 degrees.
ABJ had both chicks out too far as usual. The trumpeter swans were all in a testy mood…fighting and carrying on. I watched several juveniles attack each other. Three of them did a victory dance…then all of a sudden turned on the one and chased it off.
I heard a loon yodeling on E and I Pool…then ABJ went into a yodel. An intruding loon was flying around the Refuge…putting all the loons on high alert.
I was able to sneak out on a point to spend time with the E Pool loon family…finally...alone. Despite the overcast weather it was a perfect way to start my morning.
Wilson snipes were calling and winnowing throughout the Refuge…protecting their nesting areas.
The ospreys in F Pool are calling for food. I was excited to find the F Pool trumpeter swans with their eight tiny cygnets. They appeared to have settled on shore for the evening and were just waking up.
Well as I rounded G Pool…there were my G Pool loons. Another gentleman was out on the drive with his big lens. So I pulled off and quietly went into the brush along the shoreline. It was so special to get to watch them feeding their chicks. It didn’t even matter that it started to really mist….and it was so foggy I could hardly see them. To my delight the chicks one by one got on their daddy’s back. Priceless. They eventually floated out too far…so I said my goodbyes and went along the drive.
Lo and behold …I found a bald eagle sitting in a dead tree on the other side of G Pool….watching my poor trumpeter swan family who were down to two cygnets. Bad eagle. I watched as it took off…heading right at me…flying by…toward my swans!!! Luckily it didn’t get one. I would have been so upset. I know it’s the circle of life…but seriously…the eagles have lots of fish they can catch. They usually take the little cygnets to feed to their young. But this year neither E or G Pool had eaglets…so leave the cygnets alone.
Well after failing to catch a cygnet it went back into the tree…where it was attacked relentlessly by a male red-winged blackbird. It was almost pouring down rain by now…but I covered my camera and lens and kept shooting. The blackbird won…as the eagle finally flew away…with the blackbird on its back. Awesome!
As I moved on I did find a lone female common merganser in the C marsh…quietly enjoying the rainy day.
As I got to the end of the drive I found wood ducks feeding with the trumpeter swans. I guess if the swans don’t have young…they have wood ducks to that will eat their leavings. I left the Refuge at 10:30 to go get Michael for one last run through before heading home.
By 12:30pm it was warming up and brightening up a little. We watched the F Pool loons hoping they were making their way closer to shore…but no luck.
We spent time with a male blue-winged teal in F marsh…as he was protecting his nesting mate. Then found our H marsh trumpeter swans with all five cygnets.
No wind…some sun and 67 degrees…of course it is getting nicer right before we have to leave.
But I got to spend some special moments with my G Pool loons. They were just finishing feeding the chicks. They drifted off but toward the shore. So I went down in the bush along the opposite of the drive to get closer without being seen. I was able to settle down in the muck and watch. The one chick was on the back…but down under the wings. The other chick was beside the parent with its head tucked under its wing.
They quietly drifted in closer. The lighting was a little harsh…and it was getting steamy but I didn’t care. I stayed with them till two other cars stopped to photograph them. I was able to get the little one popping its head out with the other parent came back around. They had been calling back and forth while they were separated. What a gift I was given to spend my finally hour on the Refuge with them.
Our last subject was T7 the C Pool male enjoying some quiet time at the end of C Pool. All and all it was a lovely weekend with my wildlife…despite the weather.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal June 12, 2016
I was up early and on the Refuge before sunrise at 5:45am to de-stress with my wildlife. The temperature at 47 degrees and windy. I love to sit and listen to the sounds of everything awakening around me....perfect.
I spent all morning...in the wind and waves trying to find any of our loon chicks. ABJ and mate were not to be found....E Pool loons were being photographed by someone else minutes before I got there. I don't like to 'hog' the wildlife...so I didn't stop and horn in on the action. But eventually I was rewarded with some lovely shots of our new G Pool loon chicks. Kindness is rewarded. It made my day for a week.
I found this happy family of trumpeter swans with four cygnets on E Pool. I love this time of year...babies everywhere. I could sit and watch them for hours. There competition for food from day one....sibling rivalry at its best.
Here is one of our five H marsh trumpeter swans up close and personal. It was great to see all five of the cygnets alive and well. It's a rough world out there...snapping turtles...northern pike and bald eagle to name a few of their predators.
I did find the J Pool loons but they are still playing at nesting. A doe ran out in front of me along the drive along G marsh…maybe hiding a fawn. The first time through the G Pool loons were too far out to photograph.
The two eagles were sitting out in the feeding tree at the west end of E Pool. I heard a merlin screaming…possibly young?
I was hoping to catch E Pool loon chicks on my second pass through but the other photographer was still there with another. I was getting back in my truck when an American bittern flew right at me! I couldn’t get out of the truck in time to get a shot….not the way I wanted my day to start. URGGHHH!
The G Pool trumpeter swans were out with only three cygnets now. Those darned snappers…northern pike…and eagles.
Speaking of eagles…I spotted a bald eagle on an island in G Pool. I photographed it just before I spied the loons. Luckily the eagle left the area by then. They are definitely not a friend to the loons and their chicks.
My happiest moments were my time spent with G Pool loons and their two very young chicks. The chicks hatched sometime midweek. I was able to situate myself where they wouldn't see me. They came closer to me then I had even hoped. I don't know about those poor babies...but I was getting motion sickness just trying to keep my camera on their bobbing little bodies....love watching the little ones 'preening' just like momma and daddy. They are so tiny...just little corks floating along. The northwest wind was howling...the waves rolling...and little chicks bobbing...a perfect day at Seney National Wildlife Refuge.
If you just sit quietly and unobtrusively....you never know just what may fly by you. I think the lone trumpeter swan was surprised when it almost landed on the loons. Then the territorial male swan went after him and chased the poor thing off the pool.
There's not only wildlife... fauna...to find at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. There are lots of beautiful wildflowers...flora...to be found too....like wild irises…shrub roses…and cinnamon ferns.
I did get a chance to watch the E Pool loons and their chicks eventually Sunday morning. I always try to share 'my' wildlife with others. Another photographer got E Pool a few minutes before I did in the early morning. So I let him enjoy the moment as I went venturing to see what else I could find. I like to take the path less taken especially in the morning. I'm blest to be here every weekend...not everyone has that luxury.
I found it interesting that the one parent would catch the minnow and give it to the other one to feed the young. I'm not sure if they do this all the time...I'll have to keep track of that. Most of the parents share the feeding duty.
"It takes a village to raise a child"...I found it interesting that E Pool trumpeter swan family was feeding amongst the 'singles'. Now if they had still been on their nest...those 'singles' would have been run off...ASAP.
The ospreys do have young but they are still too young to be very vocal…but just wait. The D Pool trumpeter swans have five cygnets…way out on the backside of the Pool. I did take a walk back to the spillway to see if I could locate the loons…still no sign of their nest. Hopefully this next weekend they will show up with chicks.
C Pool loons are still on their nest…one on the nest the other patrolling. It looks like maybe they will finally be successful…time will tell. Also the B marsh ospreys seem to be finally ‘trying’ to incubate eggs…this would be their first successful nest in over four years. And C Pool trumpeter swans have six adorable cygnets.
We were back on the Refuge after 4:00pm. ABJ was still out too far for photo ops. The E Pool loons still had an audience. H Pool had a lone loon otherwise quiet. We have heard Wilson snipes all day throughout the Refuge…protecting their nests. Actually one flew up as we got out checking on the J Pool loons…and at least eight Caspian terns screaming around.
Michael and I decided to take a hike around part of J Pool. We were entertained by two pair of blue-winged teals in a channel. One pair would come too close to the other...then fly over them a little farther down...then the other pair would do the same thing....just like leap frog
On our hike around J Pool we found a couple of families of Canada geese. It was so interesting to see the difference in the ages of the goslings. The one pair had goslings that must have been born at the end of April...1st of May...they are almost juveniles. The other pair had quite young goslings. It’s always something to observe and wonder about our great nature.
As we hiked back past the J/I spillway we found a good amount of bear scat. The environment is definitely ‘bear habitat’. There have been a few spotted around the Refuge…hopefully we will get to photograph one here, too. But…always be prepared for an encounter. Black bears are generally nonaggressive…but know how to deal with the situation. Bears usually smell or hear you first and will go another way…make lots of noise…a whistle or air horn is a good deterrent. We always have pepper spray…just in case.
Our sunrise trumpeter swans on J Pool only have one little cygnet…hopefully the little tyke makes it.
We were treated to the G Pool loons not too far out. So we stopped to enjoy the family moments of feeding. One chick rode its daddy’s back for us.
We spotted a pair of sandills in D marsh…possibly with a colt. The one adult went down and didn’t pop back up while we watched…and the other watched us.
We found quite a few wood ducks in B channel along with a belted kingfisher who actually posed for a few minutes.
We decided to take one quick run through at 8:00pm to see if we could find ABJ any closer with his young…no luck. E Pool loons were feeding their two growing chicks. We continued on the Marshland Drive. The two eagles were in the favorite tree at the west end of E Pool.
As we rounded D Pool we heard a loon fly over…then a yodel from D Pool loon who was actually closer to the shore then we have seen. It sounds like he is still protecting the elusive nest mate.
We found a pair of sandhills in B marsh…if they had colts…they don’t now. We found the young light morphed red-tailed hawk at its post on M-77. We left with clouds moving in to cover the sunset at 9:00pm.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal June 11, 2016 evening run
We found a new family of trumpeter swans on the east end of E Pool with their four adorable cygnets...as the sun was starting to set.
Then we found a lone trumpeter swan on F Pool with EIGHT...yes...EIGHT cygnets. Hopefully they will survive the big cruel world out there.
I had fun trying to capture an osprey as he was fishing over the J channel. It was a great way to start our weekend at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. Now if he would have just dived and caught a fish.
I'm always happy when I can photograph my favorite...sandhill cranes. A lone one was enjoying the last rays of the sunset.
It was getting dark when we found these male wood ducks. Some of them were young males...some of them were starting into their eclipse...when they lose their handsome breeding plumage.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge June 6, 2016
It was a gorgeous morning...crisp and bright at 6:30am and a crisp 49 degrees. ABJ had not hatched his chicks yet...so I moved down the drive. I could hear sandhill cranes waking up…loons calling and trumpeter swans causing chaos. The other F Pool loon was over by the spillway enjoying the last of its quiet time before the chicks are…hopefully…hatched. A kingfisher was being elusive…a merlin screamed overhead along E Pool.
I found H Pool trumpeter swan parents sleeping along the marsh near the road. I decided to sit and wait and watch. I knew the five cygnets had to be under her...and the sun was rising...shining right on her. Well, my patience paid off. After some time...out popped an adorable cygnet. I was so excited...and the sun was shining on it. Perfect. Well worth using my hour of sunlight on. I was eventually able to get all five of them as they followed momma right down into the water. It's these special moments that make all the rainy dreary days of observing so worth it.
It was so adorable to see all five little cygnets follow momma down to the water. I felt truly blest to spend this early morning moment with these beautiful creatures.
By the time daddy trumpeter came down to help feed the cygnets...my magic light was had disappeared. But it was still sweet to watch them trying to mimic the adult.
While I was watching the swans a male blue-winged teal flew and landed in front of me. Then a female common merganser flew over…then another screaming merlin.
The J Pool loon was out patrolling. Wilson snipe were calling everywhere. The J channel trumpeter swans still on the nest. I found a male wood duck in eclipse along the channel further down. Then I had a light morphed red-tailed hawk land in a tree out in G marsh. A female blue-winged teal was further down the channel.
G Pool trumpeter swans were out with their four cygnets. A merlin was screaming in the marsh. I have a feeling the young have hatched. Wilson snipes are still out and about calling and warning. One eagle was on the tree at the west end of E Pool.
The D Pool loon is still hanging close to the big island. Hopefully we will see chicks here soon, too.
Wood ducks…ring-necks ducks and snapping turtles along C Pool. The loon is on the nest.
I took a short hike back to check on the loons on I Pool. Unfortunately I only saw one of them...and the nesting area looked flooded. Hopefully they hatch before all the rain...time will tell. On my way back along the Nature Trail I found these beautiful wildflowers in the marsh. I believe they are wild calla lilies. The wild irises and shrub roses are blossoming along with a multitude of other wildflowers.
I decided to take the Marshland Drive to check on the E Pool loon chick. Three loons were flying and stirring up chaos...especially on the east end of E Pool where the first loon chick on the Refuge was hatched on Saturday. As I watched the dad yodeled and dove. Then the momma with the chick dove. The chick on the back came off…the all of a sudden another chick popped out. Yeah!!! There are two loon chicks on E Pool. I only found that out by sitting and quietly observing. How exciting to find they have two. I spend some time watching as trumpeter swans were fighting coming in close to where the loon chicks were. What a great way to spend a gloomy day.
I did see a couple of different eagles flying over the Pools. C Pool one loon on nest…one was nearby.
We made our last run through after 12:00pm. ABJ and mate still on nest. The young unattached trumpeter swans have moved over to F Pool from E Pool having depleted a lot of the vegetation there. They can eat 5-7 pounds a day! Well, the territorial pair of trumpeter swans was none too happy with this invasion. But it really makes for some great action shots especially early in the morning. I was able to shoot a sequence of shots from during my one hour of sunshine. At the end the female of the pair comes in to congratulate her mate.
E Pool loon is out with chicks on its back…blue-winged teal pair has four little ones in F marsh. Yeah!! The H marsh sandhill cranes were out close enough to see the colt…only one…I had heard they had lost one.
The common terns were on their stump in J Pool. A lone sandhill crane flew over. Then we had two ospreys flying over G Pool. One landed in a pine tree along the drive. I posed to shoot it when it flew to catch a fish…and waited…and waited…and waited. The camera got heavier….the wind blew harder…but it never flew…till I put the camera down…of course. D Pool was closer to the shore than I have seen in a while…hopefully chicks soon.
Well, we were ready to leave the Refuge to head back downstate this afternoon around 2:30pm when we got a call from our dear friends, Kenneth and Jean Ann Rautiola. ABJ was feeding a chick!! Well, needless to say we headed back onto the Refuge. The north winds were howling right in our faces...but Jean Ann and I stayed for over two hours enjoying every moment as ABJ toted his new born around out in the rough waters.
While we sat out watching ABJ and his new chick...the trumpeter swans added some extra drama. There was a pair on a small island...where I usually see the common terns. Well, one common tern seemed to be quite perturbed with them…an actually pooed on them...yep...pooed on them. Gotta love nature.
We really got nervous when a juvenile trumpeter swan came cruising over to investigate the loons. ABJ immediately went into defensive mode...the chick rode its daddy's back fearlessly. LIFE IS AWESOME...especially at our Happy Place...Seney National Wildlife Refuge!!! FYI momma loon was still on the nest hopefully hatching chick #2.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal June 5, 2016
I guess I used all my sunny nice days up last weekend. Today...rain...rain and more rain at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. I arrived at the Refuge at 6:50am. ABJ and mate are still on their nest. We had hoped for chicks much sooner than this. But I guess at 29 and 31 years old it takes a little longer to get it right. There has been an invasion of trumpeter swans on F Pool. As I was watching…a loon ‘walked’ across the water and belly landed. I’m sure it’s ABJ telling the swans to back off. They were getting quite close to the nest.
I did spot one of the E Pool loons with their newly hatch chick from yesterday on its back…way out near their nesting site. One of the eagles was in the tree on their nest island. F Pool osprey flew in to feed at least one young early this morning. Caspian tern was busy diving into E Pool looking for lunch. I love these guys and their little cousins the common terns. There was a pair of wood ducks on E near the marsh…and a big snapping turtle…still laying eggs.
Another snapper was along H Pool…where our trumpeter swan family with their five cygnets were feeding near the shore…but too rainy and dark for photos.
The J channel trumpeters swans still nesting….I could hear Wilson snipes calling and winnowing as they flew all over the Refuge. They are protecting their nesting areas from intruders…us humans included.
It was truly green and lush despite the gloomy wet weather…or because of it. The ferns are gorgeous…the wild irises and shrub roses are in bloom. There was a male blue-winged teal in one of the channels.
G Pool loon was near the nesting site…hopefully it will be soon.
It was interesting to find a 2nd year eagle with one of the adults at the west end of E Pool. I have a feeling this is the G Pool eagles...and their young from last year. More snapping turtles laying eggs along the C marsh area. Three male ring-necked ducks on C Pool. The ospreys in B marsh…Dumb and Dumber still playing house. C Pool is still on their new nest. Hopefully this time they will be successful.
A Common tern fishing in the small pool at the end of C Pool…three male wood ducks on the fallen trees in the marsh. I ended my first run through to pouring down rain. I decided to make one more quick run before going to get Michael.
There was a loon on H Pool this time through. I found a single sandhill crane on H Marsh. Hope all is well with the family with colts. More snapping turtles out and about.
Back on the Refuge at 3:00pm still cold and damp out.
My happy moment this afternoon at Seney National Wildlife Refuge was finding our week old G Pool trumpeter swan cygnets. All four of them are alive and thriving!! Way to go mom and dad. H Pool swans have five adorable cygnets but too rainy when I found them. Maybe tomorrow.
I found at least a dozen big snappers along the drive this morning laying eggs. At least I didn't have to get out and herd them off the road. They move off...fast...thank goodness.
We have been seeing a doe in the same area. We are hoping she has a fawn nearby. She was definitely doing the mommy march as she headed away from us.
On our evening run we found the J Pool loons on the other side of their nesting site. At first we thought they were making another nest. But it appeared they we getting more material to reinforce their current nest. It has been raining so hard all week that the water levels have definitely risen.
We got to see our J channel beaver and his mate. He got out of the water and made a castor pile…marking his territory. Then his mate went in the lodge and he tried to drive us away by swimming around slapping his tail.
A male Northern harrier was flying around J marsh. We found a female hooded merganser along the channel.
Our bald eagles seem to be enjoying this dead tree at the west end of E Pool. For years we called it the feeding tree because the D Pool ospreys used it to fish from to feed their young.
I did find one creature to photograph in the five minutes of sunlight last night....Mrs. Dumb...the B marsh osprey. She and her mate...Dumber...have been trying to nest unsuccessfully for several years now. She thinks she is sitting on viable eggs now...but we will see soon enough.
We ended the drive with wood ducks and ring-necks in the marsh.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal May 31, 2016
I entered the Refuge at 6:20am…to partly sunny skies….45 degrees and winds out of the northeast.
Sandhill cranes…trumpeter swans…Canada geese and goslings…American bittern glunking…Wilson snipes calling…a great way to start the day.
ABJ and mate are still on their nests…along with E Pool loons. The E Pool eagle was sitting sentinel protecting its nest.
Our H marsh sandhill cranes colts were out with only one of their parents. This is the second day in a row I only saw one parent…which is extremely unusual when they have young colts.
I first heard…then saw a pair of common nighthawks flying over H marsh. A loon flew over heading toward E Pool. I found a pair of sandhill cranes in J marsh but couldn’t tell if they had a colt or not.
My little beaver was very busy adding sticks to his lodge. The J Marsh trumpeter swans are still on their nest.
The G Pool trumpeter swan family was out and about…all four little cygnets are alive and well. While I was in the brush watching them…all of a sudden I heard a loud bang. A beaver was patrolling the area…and not happy with my presence. He went all around the swans doing the same thing. Daddy swan was not too impressed. He went after the beaver. It was so cute to see one of the cygnets go with him. It must be a male. He was so proud that he and his daddy chased away the beaver.
Then the G Pool loon let out a yodel. I looked up and there was a bald eagle flying low over G Pool. The swans got their cygnets as close to the island as they could…but the eagle continued flying to over to E Pool.
I heard a sora whinny in the west end of E marsh. I caught sight of a pair of them chasing each other…but no photo ops.
There were Wilson snipes everywhere…grinding…winnowing…but no photo ops there either. I did find a pair of sandhill cranes with one colt in C Marsh.
The B marsh ospreys…Dumb and Dumber were hanging out at their nest…as usual…but not nesting. The C Pool loons were near their old nesting site.
After my first run through I decided to go check on the trumpeter swans on the Show Pools. I found the South Show trumpeter swans with six cygnets just getting back on their nest. Awesome!! A does ran along the backside of the Show Pool.
I entered the Refuge again at 8:45am…ABJ was up turning his eggs…no chicks yet. One of the E Pool loons was out amongst the trumpeter swans while the other was on the nest.
I spotted the H Pool trumpeter swans with cygnets way in the backside of the pool on their nest. The common terns are still hanging out on J Pool. I heard and then saw a pair of American kestrels flying over H marsh.
The west end sandhill cranes are both together…hopefully that means they have a colt. They stood frozen behind a shrub hoping I didn’t see them.
I watched as one of the D Pool ospreys brought in a fish. I had hoped they had little ones and were going to feed them….but the other adult took the fish and went to one of the pine trees to eat it.
I did see one of the D Pool loons out behind the long island. Hopefully that’s where their nest is.
The C Pool loons appear to be building a nest…time will tell. There is a lone sandhill crane out behind Gray’s Pool. I ended my second run at 11:00.
The South Show Pool trumpeter swans had their six cygnets out feeding. I was able to get down in the muck to photograph them without stressing them.
By 1:00pm I found the C Pool loons on a nest…hopefully hidden enough not to attract attention and cause stress this time.
By 2:30pm it was 73 degrees. Michael and I made our final run through the Refuge. We spotted a doe in the marsh across from F Pool. We were excited to find she had a newborn fawn. She was still cleaning it off…so it had to have just been born. How awesome to witness.
While checking out ABJ’s nest…which they were still on…we witnessed the F Pool territorial male trumpeter swan chasing off another intruder. We see one of the loons…then a male wood duck farther down on F Poo. The E Pool eagle was back in his tree. We spotted a northern harrier in H marsh.
A beaver was out enjoying the quiet afternoon along the west end of H/E marsh. An eagle was in the feeding tree at the west end of E Pool. The C Pool loon was on its nest…and we spotted B Pool trumpeter swans with at least three cygnets.
It was an amazing end to an awesome three days on the Refuge. Can’t wait to get back and hopefully find some loon chicks.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge May 30, 2016
I got a later start this morning. I didn’t get to the Refuge till 7:30am with temps at 59…breezy…and partly sunny. ABJ or mate is still on the nest.
As I was heading over the E/F spillway I spotted a large snapping turtle climbing the rocks to go lay its eggs. I quietly got out of truck…but it must have heard me. It attempted to turn around to go back into the water…but ended up tumbling down the embankment. Quite comical…and it didn’t hurt itself.
As I got to H Pool I found my sandhills and colts on a little island. Of course by that time the clouds had moved in. But I quietly observed them as one colt left its parent to go find the other colt…like it was protecting it. Usually with two colts they will fight for food…sometimes one pecking the other to death. Thank goodness these two seem to like each other. The parent stood as still as a statue…but I didn’t see the other parent.
I found a very busy beaver working on his lodge on J channel. The trumpeter swans are still nesting in J marsh. I heard lots of Wilson snipes throughout the Refuge. A couple of them were chasing each other around.
All was quiet on G Pool…but I did find a pair of bald eagles on the west end of E Pool. One was hunting from the dead tree…while the other was hiding in the pines…chattering at the other. All of a sudden the one dove out of the tree. It dropped behind the island so I couldn’t see what it was doing. It was down for quite a while then back into the tree where two common terns started bombarding it. Interesting.
Our C Pool loons were getting lovey dovey in their usual spot in the cove. Hopefully they will decide to nest again.
I decided it was so gorgeous I would take another quick drive through. I was so glad I did…I found four adorable trumpeter swan cygnets on G Pool!!! The first cygnets of the season! What a treat to be able to sit quietly and observe these little puff balls as they experience their first moments of life.
I did find a pair of wood ducks on C Pool. Then, of course, there was Dumb and Dumber the ospreys on B marsh sitting at their nest. It looks like it’s going to be another year without young here.
I found the C Pool loons hanging out at their old nesting site. Trying to rekindle the passion?
Then I had Father Goose keeping me hostage further down the drive. He had four little goslings that were content to sit in the middle of the drive. I finally convinced him to get them out of the drive so I could pass
I called Michael and he was busy so he said to go through again. As I got to the end of the drive my truck warned me my back right tire was low on air. I got out to check…nothing…so head back on the Refuge. I stopped by the office…got out…and my tire was almost completely flat!! I called Michael. Claudia was scheduled to work at the Visitors Center at 1:00pm. It was now 11:15am. I said, no worries, I would walk back to I Pool to check on the loons and then to ABJ. J If it had to happen…this was the best place on earth for it to happen.
Well, the I Pool loons were off their nest…but I could see a couple of eggs. Hopefully they will have chicks in a week or so. Then off to sit and monitor ABJ and his mate’s nest.
As I was quietly enjoying the moment…a pair of trumpeter swans came flying in. I knew trouble was brewing. I got in position just in time to watch the territorial male trumpeter swan come straight for the pair. He chased the male as it took flight trying to escape the wrath of the attacker. It’s amazing just what you will witness if you just take time to sit and observe nature.
Well, dear Michael got the tired changed. We went back to the trailer for him to change. We headed back to the Refuge around 4:00pm.
We found ABJ taking a leisurely bath on F Pool via the Fishing Loop. He is preparing for his daddy duties soon. The common terns are busy throughout the Refuge. We are hoping we have at least one pair nesting on J Pool. Time will tell.
We watched the J marsh trumpeter swans. A pair of Canada geese with their tiny goslings was entering the water nearby. Well, the male swan was not allowing that. He took off to run them off. Mrs. Swan stood up…covered her eggs…and proceeded to go help her mate. They ran the poor things up on land and right off the drive.
An osprey was fishing over G Pool. We heard a Sora on the west end of E Pool. The G Pool loon was calling. The D Pool osprey brought in a fish. The other one took it to eat in a nearby tree. I was hoping they were going to feed young…not yet.
It was lovely evening….75 degrees with a beautiful setting sun. We did find a male blue-winged teal eating in F marsh. Wilson snipes were calling, too. We heard a few American bittern but no sightings.
Seney National Wildlife Journal May 29, 2016
I entered the Refuge by 5:40am…as the dawn was breaking. Temperature already 59 degrees. It is truly a magical time when nature awakens to greet the new day. The songbirds are singing before the sun even rises. Two doe popped out in front of me…then a ruffed grouse. ABJ and mate are still nesting. While I watched them a juvenile trumpeter swan was experience separation anxiety. Its parents are now nesting…ready to raise a new family. It’s sad to watch last year’s young deal with being out on its own.
The beavers are out enjoying the quiet morning. I hear the glunk-glunk of an American bittern. E Pool seems to be the pool for the unattached trumpeter swans. They are already stirring…chasing each other…vying for the attentions of their future mates. There are also some wood ducks floating in the marshy area…as a merlin went screaming overhead.
J Pool loons are still out and about. They still haven’t settled on a nesting spot. The common terns are busy squawking around. Hopefully some of them are nesting. Snapping and painted turtles are busy laying eggs throughout the Refuge. I had to herd several of them off the drive.
A common loon was flying over G Pool toward E Pool.I spooked over a dozen wood ducks out along C Pool. The B marsh osprey was sitting out on a branch near their nest. I call them Dumb & Dumber. They have built several nests…most have fallen. This one they built last year…but still have not raised any young. I could also hear an American bittern calling in the marsh area near the nest.
I started my second run through at 7:00am with the sun out and the sky blue. F Pool loon was on its nest. I watched as ABJ started to ascend the nest…maybe to relieve his mate of incubation duty. But another loon flew over and almost landed near the nesting site. ABJ slid back into the water in defensive mode. His mate also came off the nest. I am still hearing lots of American bittern calling…also Wilson snipes.
I spotted the east end E Pool loon still on its nest…the other one was swimming amongst the trumpeter swans. There are lots of new little Canada goose goslings throughout the Refuge, too. I spotted the D Pool loon out and about. I haven’t discovered the location of their nest…yet. The ospreys are still nesting, too.
I was excited to find the C Pool loons together…near the shore. I was able to spend some time watching them together. Hopefully they will re-nest soon. While I was photographing them…I heard a pair of sandhill cranes cackling as if they were trying to defend their territory…possibly have a colt? There was also a lone sandhill at the end of B marsh as I ended my morning run at 9:00am. Now to go get Michael and head to our black bear research blind.
I returned back to the Refuge at 3:20pm to temps in the 70’s F Pool loons still on their nest. There is a lone loon on H Pool. I was able to see that it wasn’t banded. The clouds started to move in but I was able to sit and watch as one of the G Pool loons disappeared on the tern island. Sure enough I found the other one tucked up in the brush. They were building their nest…finally!!!! I also took a little hike and discovered where G Pool loons have nested. Yeah!! Despite the gloomy afternoon…it was very productive. I did see a Northern harrier flying over H marsh…G Marsh sandhills carrying on to protect their colt…osprey fishing on G Pool…a pair of hooded mergansers on West end of E Pool. There were a few ring-necked and wood ducks on C Pool. I ended the day around 8:30pm as the clouds moved in.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal May 28, 2016
We got to the Refuge by 7:45pm from downstate...back to our "Happy Place". The evening was gorgeous. We found the F Pool loons on their nest. Hoping for young this weekend. We were so excited to find our H Marsh sandhill cranes out with their two colts...still healthy. We also found a huge snapping turtle out enjoying the evening warmth. It's time for them to lay their eggs in the sand. This was just a quick run through before getting to spend the next three days here. We were treated to a gorgeous golden orange sunset.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal May 23, 2016
Now that we are going back to our black bear research blind on Sundays...we have the whole day Monday to spend on our Refuge! I didn't get up quite as early as the day before. I arrived on the Refuge at 6:45am. Another lovely morning...a little more of a breeze...our F Pool and E Pool loons were on their nests. Snipes, Virginia rails and American bitterns were calling from the marshes. And our little Eastern kingbirds were flitting about...willingly posing for me.
I don't usually shoot mallards...but two drakes were so handsome in the early morning light. Their heads had an almost wax look to them...having just surfaced from the water.
A handsome male blue-winged teal was feeding in the marshes...with his mate feeding behind him. I have seen several pairs throughout the Refuge.
Everything looks nicer in the early morning light. So I had to shoot some painted turtles enjoying the beautiful moring on the Refuge...and their reflections.
I did find the G Pool eagles together...not far from their nest. No eaglets this year for this pair...or E Pool eagles. At least the goslings and cygnets will have a better chance at growing up.
I also found some Caspian terns fishing on G Pool. Love to hear and watch these guys.
As I was leaving the Refuge from my morning drive through...I spotted a little broad-winged hawk. He actually flew...but went right to a tree that was bathed in sunlight. Perfect!!! I love these little hawks.
We made a long drive through the Refuge after lunch. We took time to just sit and observe the landscape. Luckily for us we spotted a pair of sandhill cranes in H marsh...with two tiny colts!!! I had been seeing one lone sandhill in this area...so I was sure the other one was on a nest. Hope these little ones make it. They have so many predators...including parasites that can shorten their little lives. Last year this pair had one colt that survived to grow strong and migrate south with its parents.
We then moved on to J Pool...where we found the male out by the common tern island. We were hoping they were nesting there...but we found the female down by the fishing pier. No worries...they may just be changing nesting duties. So we watched and watched and watched. She went out to him...they swam near two islands. The male actually went up on the edge of one island...to poo!! Yep...for some strange reason the J Pool loons like to poo on land...not in the water. I guess that's smart...don't potty where you eat. I actually watched thier chick from last year do the same thing. Loons usually only go on land to build their nests...copulate...and hatch their young.
As we continued our drive...we startled a pair of sandhill cranes in G marsh. They started carrying on...cackling and trying to lure us away from the area. We were able to spot at least one tiny colt!! Yeah! So happy to see them..even if I couldn't get photos. The parents tell the young to get down in the tall grass and stay...while they lure the predator(us) away. The dad even flew right over us...landed and pretended to be injured. We didn't want to stress them so we quickly moved on. Hoping to see them this next weekend.
Our B marsh ospreys aka Dumb and Dumber were at their nest together. Hopefully they are actually nesting this year. They have had two or three nests go down on them...and so far have not had a successful nest.
One last shot before we left the Refuge at 5:00pm yesterday to head home. My broad-winged hawk that I saw earlier in the day was in a different location. It took off just as I got my camera up to shoot. Great way to end our two days at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. We get three days next weekend. Yeah!
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal May 22, 2016
It was one of the most gorgeous mornings I have ever experienced at Seney National Wildlife Refuge in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Up before dawn to watch and listen as the wildlife awakened to greet the day. I heard the glunk glunk of an American bittern calling for a mate...the honking of the Canada geese...the trumpeting of the trumpeter swans...the cackling of the sandhill cranes and the wails of the loons as they all announced the dawning of the new day. It's a magical time as the fog rises from the pools slowly unveiling the wonders of nature.
My day started at 5:00am. I entered the Refuge by 5:40am and greeted this gorgeous day with the sun rising over F Pool. It just got better from there. The sun shone all day...the wildlife though sparse was entertaining. The temps reached 76...the breeze was mild...so rare for this time of year here.
The sunrise was enhanced by the morning fog off the water. I loved how it surrounded a nesting trumpeter swan and her patrolling mate. A perfect morning.
Nothing is more perfect than the sound of sandhill cranes in the early morning light. Caspian terns were enjoying the fishing on G Pool, too. I love to hear them 'gronk'.
As I was walking around D Pool to check on the loons...I heard the sound of a sandhill crane in flight. I quickly got into a clearing and started shooting. I was delighted to have it fly right by me with the morning light showing off its beauty. Life is totally awesome at Seney National Wildlife Refuge
What could be the most perfect way to end my early morning at Seney National Wildlife Refuge?? Finding the C Pool loons swimming together right near the shore!!! Yep...very lucky me!!! It made getting up early so worth it. The C Pool loons sadly abandoned their nest...that was too close to the drive. Despite warnings people still got too close...made too much noise and stressed the female to the point of abandonment. But they were spending time together...and have time to re-clutch and have a successful nest...hopefully. I also found the kingfishers at the C/B spillway appear to have or are working on a nest in the banks.
In the afternoon I was treated to a rare sighting...Whimbrels...60+ of them on J Pool!!! It was my first sighting of these unique shorebirds. They only migrate through Michigan...and rarely through the Refuge. They are heading to the far north to nest. They had better hurry. I guess they decided to jump on the south winds...because a few hours later they were gone. Timing is everything as they say...especially with migrating birds. Luckily the lighting was perfect and was able to get some nice shots of them. By the time most people heard about them...including people I contacted...they had all left...except for one lone bird. But my friends were happy nonetheless. The common terns were keeping them company on J Pool. I think we have several pairs that are possibly nesting on their old island. Also while I was watching the whimbrels I heard several Virginia rails calling in the marsh.
Later in the afternoon on Sunday along the C Pool drive at Seney National Wildlife Refuge I found the territorial loons. This is the pair that abandoned their nest after too much stress from human intrusion. They were enjoying each other’s company...hopefully preparing to re-nest in a more distance location. This male is T7 seventeen year old son of ABJ(the oldest banded loon at 29 years). His mate died three years ago during nesting season. We were witness to any amazing competition between two females to see who would become the next Mrs. T7. They belly raced each other for hours and hours before one finally gave up. You just never know what you will witness out with wildlife. That's why I could spend every waking moment out here...and someday will.
The day ended with what had to be one of the most spectacular sunsets I have been blest to witness at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. Sunset over C Pool...perfect ending to the most perfect day.
May 16, 2016
This morning I headed into the Refuge around 8:30am having slept in due to an early morning rain. F Pool loon on its nest...a dozen Caspain terns gronking on their spit of land...kingfisher eluding me. I found three river otters on E Pool out too far to photograph but still fun to watch their antics. They were harassing some trumpeter swans causing them to fly around trying to get away from them. Wilson snipes could be heard flying around calling for a mate. This family of Canada geese was being chased by a territorial trumpeter swan on H pool. Although there isn't tons of wildlife right now...it is still great to be out in this serene setting with just myself and nature.
Later in the day Michael and I took a long leisure drive through the Refuge...stopping to enjoy the little things. It's amazing what you find when you take the time. We haven't seen many shorebirds...but today we finally found this Lesser Yellowlegs preening and feeding on E Pool.
We got really excited when we found a pair of loons on H Pool. But as the one was preening I snapped some shots. He is banded 'AT'...Mr. J Pool daddy. Yep...I guess the little missus can't decide where she wants to nest. This is not unusual for these two. They nested two years ago on H Pool when J Pool was drained for bridge construction. Last year they started on H Pool then moved to J Pool. Now...who knows just where they will end up. As long as they nest I'll be happy.
We finally spotted a loon on G Pool. I tried to get shots of it as it was preening...way out in the middle of some wave action caused by a stiff northwest wind...to verify if it was one of last years. Oh well, I'm hoping it is our pair from last year. It was near their nesting area from last year...time will tell.
Then on to D Pool where we spotted our pair actually on a spit of land...oops...only for a second then off she went. He followed her...I followed them. But she leads us both on a merry chase...to nowhere. They ended up preening in the middle of the pool...but I got to get a few shots of this bald eagle as it flew over me.
The blackflies are out in full force...and the poor loons are suffering. The nasty pests can force the loons off their nests and abandon their eggs. Hopefully they will be fine....we'll find out next week.
May 15, 2016
A little chilly start to the 2016 season at Seney National Wildlife Refuge this morning. I got to the Refuge before 7:00am and before the gates were open for the season...so I took a hike back to I Pool. I found nesting trumpeter swans and ospreys...heard Wilson snipes and yellow-rumped warblers. I found this male hairy woodpecker getting breakfast on a snow covered log.
I found one of I Pool loons patrolling an area...yep...there was the other one...on a nest. Last Monday they were still looking for a nesting site. That made my day....great way to start the 2016 season here at Seney National Wildlife Refuge
The Canada geese have good sized goslings...throughout the Refuge.
The E Pool eagles were sitting side by side. It doesn't look or sound like they had eaglets this year.I didn't find any at the G Pool nest either. Sad.
While I was looking at the eagles I spotted a lone loon on E Pool. It appeared to be relaxing...and guarding. So I scanned the area and locate the nest. Yeah!! Another pair of loons are already nesting. Can't wait for babies
Here's another photo from opening day at Seney National Wildlife Refuge this morning. It was exciting to be the very first person on the Refuge...definitely a first for me.
This is the little Mrs. of Dumb and Dumber as we call this pair of ospreys. They have tried and failed at building nests for the last four years or so. This year they are back at this sturdier nest...but still not sure they will actually hatch anything.
Back to opening day at Seney National Wildlife Refuge yesterday...after seeing Momma Blaze and her triplets...we headed back to the Refuge.
The sun came out and my loons showed off. We found J Pool daddy hanging out near the fishing pier. Love this guy. His mate was wandering around trying to decide where she wanted her nest built.
As we were driving along we spotted this lone female blue-winged teal quietly sitting on this fallen tree. Earlier in the day there had been a male...maybe she decided he wasn't 'the one'.
We heard a commotion ahead of us...yep sandhill cranes. There were at least six of them...two of them decided they wanted to be alone so they chased this intruder off. We think it was a gathering of young ones maybe trying to finally find love. We had seen a gathering of over forty along M 28 on our way back from the black bears.
As we ended our first evening on the Refuge along the Marshland Drive...we found E Pool male bald eagle sitting on one of his usually trees. He didn't seem too happy that we disturbed him. He gave me the stink eye and quickly flew back to their empty nest on the island on E Pool.
May 9, 2016
Another gorgeous morning at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. I hiked in to check on ABJ and his mate early just after the sun came up with the temperature at 28 degrees. There was definitely frost....and a slight northeast wind to make it more invigorating.
Mrs. ABJ was on the nest...and didn't budge the whole two and half hours I watched. ABJ came over and offered to take her place but she seemed content to stay put...which is unusual for her. She likes to primp and preen.
ABJ...he calmly patrolled the area around the nest...offering to take his turn. But Mrs. ABJ was content to sit tight...for a change. He spent almost an hour and a half nearby...then slowly made it way out to do a little fishing. It's always a gift to just quietly sit and observe these beautiful creatures.
While I was observing ABJ...he went into his defense mode. I looked up and this male Northern shoveler landed not too far the nest. Needless to say it caught a glimpse of ABJ giving him the stink eye and quickly left the area.
I had so much fun watching the Caspian terns on a spit of land near the loon nest. I started with four...ended up with seven...definitely some courting/sparirng going on. I guess since they didn't show up downstate for me...they were giving me a special showing up here. What an amazing way to start the day.
Then back at the Refuge we took a different trail to check on the back side of F Pool and I Pool. I found a male merlin...white crowned sparrows...yellow-rumped warblers...a pair of loons on Pool...two bald eagles messing with poor nesting F Pool's ospreys....a sandhill crane...trumpeter swans...blue-winged teals...Wilson snipes...a female merlin and I heard an American bittern glunking. Oh and did I mention I saw four river otters playing on the backside of F Pool...too far out for photos though. What a great way to end our short weekend. But we'll be back...opening day is Sunday!!! AND...a tick...yep they are back...don't forget to spray your clothes and keep vigilante against these nasty buggers. Maybe make a pet out of an opossum to take with you...they love to eat ticks
May 8, 2016
I got up early to get to the Refuge...unfortunately the clouds moved in with the howling northwest winds...making the windchill around 20 degrees. But...I totally confirmed it is ABJ and his mate...and they are nesting. I'm posting this photo to show his bands...red over green.
The happy couple spent time off the nest this morning. I guess they know that the eggs will be fine despite the cold winds. The sun peeked out for a few minutes...as I watched ABJ and his mate...and the Caspian terns that were out on a small island beyond the loons' nest. Twenty-nine years old and he is the first one back and nesting as usual.
The sun...of course...came out as I was hiking back out of the Refuge. I did find a pair of ring-necked ducks....and look...you can actually see his 'ring' around his neck.
Several wood ducks flew over and landed at the end of F Pool...of course out too far for good pics...but I love seeing these beauties
I found a pair of male Northern Flickers (yellow shafted) doing a little funky dancing on a branch. At first I thought it was a male and female courting...but then...who knows just what was going on.
Back to the Refuge in the afternoon...we found ABJ or his mate on the nest...yep there's a loon in that mess somewhere. \ We also had fun with Wilson snipes...Caspian terns...yellow-rumped warblers. I forgot...I found an American bittern this morning but I spooked it as I was hiking out...no pics. ;( But happy to see them back already.
I discovered my Caspian terns...they were all here at the Refuge. I guess they by past me by downstate to head to the U.P. As long as they are here...I'm happy.
We had a great time with several Wilson snipes that were courting at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. Not sure who was wooing who...but it was fun to watch them flying back and forth. This one landed nearby and I was able to get some sweet shots of it. Right place at the right time.
April 24, 2016
We stopped by Seney National Wildlife Refuge yesterday just to see what we could see...in the cold wet weather. Wood ducks...ring-necked ducks...buffleheads...northern harrier...trumpeter swans...Canada geese...two Caspian terns and a pied billed grebe!! Oh and this little guy came out and posed for us...calling for a mate. I had heard several of them last weekend, too. This seems early for them...but maybe they know something we don't know...or they are just migrating through...Wilson Snipe.
April 17, 2016
Up at 5:00am...to hike back a mile to the sharp-tailed grouse blind and lek. 30 degrees and a heavy ground fog...so it took a while to actually be able to make out the STG in the tall dead grasses. We found15 males and 7 females. Unfortunately the blind is placed so you look right into the rising sun....but it does make something interesting photo ops.
So after counting the sharp-tailed grouse...I decided to try the other side of the lek...that the sun was actually shining on. It was still a little damp and chilly...but you know me...I'll do anything for a wildlife photo. The STG flew off...but worked their way back to the lek again. And I was able to get some nice shots of them in action. We spend a couple of hours back with them...then off they went back to status quo...the courting was done for the day.
While back at the sharp-tailed grouse blind...we could hear the sandhill cranes waking up...music to my ears. Eventually a couple of pairs flew out of the swamps and into the field behind the blind to eat. We also had an eagle...northern harrier and rough-legged hawk passed through.
I always enjoy the hike back out to the truck from the sharp-tailed grouse blind. You never know what you will find along the way. A beaver was quite willing to let me take his photo.
I was so excited when three pair of green-winged teals landed into the ditch right ahead of where were hiking back to our truck. I was even more excited when I was able to sneak up and get some beautiful shots of one of the males.
They are so skittish...but I was able to snap a few shots of the male before off they went. One of the perks of getting up at 5:00am.
After dropping Michael off at the trailer to do some yard work for Claudia...I headed to the Refuge. Yep I needed to see if I could confirm ABJ's return. Who cares that I only had four hours of sleep...hiked over two miles...I had more miles to put behind me. I ended up hiking all around F Pool...by H Pool...J Pool took the trail back to I Pool and back to the Visitors Center. I went from 30 degree weather to 70 degree weather in a matter of a few hours. It was a great day. I stopped to spend a little time with a little Wilson Snipe as it fed along the way.
I heavily cropped a photo to get a look at the loon on F Pool's right leg. I'm sure I can see his red over green leg band...confirming ABJ is back for his 29th year. His mate of twenty years is with him, too. They will be looking for a new nesting spot...since their old one is underwater. They are usually the first ones to nest and hatch their young...sometimes a month before all of the others. Welcome home ABJ!!!
I also got to sneak up on this pair of common mergansers. I even fooled the Canada geese who usually sound the alarm. I was able to get a few shots...before they saw me and took off around the bend. Yep it was another great day at Seney National Wildlife Refuge!!
April 16, 2016
What a gorgeous day in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan today!!! I started out with a walkabout at my favorite place...Seney National Wildlife Refuge. As I entered the Refuge I was greeted with the call of a Wilson snipe. Yeah!! My first photo was of my very special bird....a sandhill crane. A great way to be welcomed back. I found a loon on J Pool and I Pool...and heard the warning calls of the loon on F Pool. Unfortunately I didn't see it...yet...but I will return.
Ospreys are working on their nests on M-77...behind the V.C and on F Pool. Ring-necked ducks...hood mergansers...buffleheads and even a pair of green-winged teals were on I Pool. Also trumpeter swans were busy chasing off intruders. I found two male wood ducks who split as soon as I got too close. I even found a Wilson Snipe...but too far out for a decent shot. Then I had fun with a half a dozen sandhill cranes.
All Photographs Copyrighted by Michael & Teresa McGill/McGills Nature in Motion-Unauthorized use prohibited