Sunday, June 7, 2015

Loon Family - Wisconsin Birds - M. C. Kinney Photography

Banner day today!

Finally was able to take the boat out yesterday before sunset to look to see if Sven and Helga, my friendly family of loons, had returned to the lake. I was pleasantly surprised to come upon a family, that I at first wasn't so certain was Sven and Helga, and a new chick, very well hidden under daddy's wing. I wasn't certain it was Sven and Helga because of their initial response to my approach and their behaviors were different from last year. Last year, only Helga carried the baby chick and last night, the larger male was carrying the chick. I knew it wasn't Helga carrying the baby, but was pretty certain it WAS Helga that popped up next to the drivers seat, looked me up and down for about 30 seconds before going under only to pop up about 50 feet from where the parent and chick were (leaving my boat between them). This in itself would be unusual behavior for the parent to separate from the other parent with such a young chick on its back with humans nearby (I'm estimating this chick at 2 weeks old). However, last year, multiple times the parents left me with the chick and would frequently go diving for fish while just I and the chick (Fritz) stayed topside. Several times last evening while photographing them, they both would start to cry out, and I thought perhaps I'd gotten too close, only to realize an eagle went overhead - twice. They get very defensive and protective whenever the eagles go over, and for good reason. Anyway...last night after photographing them I returned to the cottage to download the images and to compare them to last year. At that point I thought for certain that the one was Helga, but still couldn't quite be certain the other one was Sven. 

This morning after it rained, around 11am, I went out again and this time, the chick was riding on Helga's back. The lighting this morning was a little more flat but much easier to distinguish the markings and shape of their beaks and it was definitely Sven. After about ten minutes of shooting, Helga lifted up and fanned her wings, dumping the baby off her back! Such tough love! Anyway, it swam around Sven for a few minutes while Helga cleaned herself, fanned herself and then went fishing for the baby's lunch. Meanwhile, the baby eventually crawled onto Sven's back, waiting for the lunch wagon to return. Throughout the time I was shooting them, they moved closer and closer to the boat and at one point both parents went under water to fish while I looked after the chick. I did yell at them for leaving me to babysit while the baby was so young (last year they didn't leave me to sit until little Fritz was about 6 weeks old), but it's nice to know they trust me to take care of it.
Helga eying me up this morning. She came right up to the boat again and stayed for several minutes while we talked (I asked her about Fritz and how their winter in the south had gone, told her how pretty her new baby was, you know, catching up stuff...).
Here Helga is feeding the new chick. I'm leaning toward this one being a female. It's pretty shy, hiding under dad's wing whenever other boats come near. Kind of a daddy's girl. That and she seems pretty petite.
Here's the whole family (Helga in the foreground).

I'm so happy they've come is typical of loons to return to the same lake, year after year. Fritz will be in the south or east coast for another 2 years before he comes back, hopefully to one of the other coves or lakes in the area. Now, what to name this baby...

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mallard Ducks - 1000 Islands Environmental Center - Kaukauna Photography - M. C. Kinney Photography

This Mallard duck couple was very friendly and posed for well over an hour between digging for food at the 1000 Islands Environmental Center along the boardwalk. Throughout their foraging the Drake would keep a lookout while his lady friend continued to search for food with her head deep under water.

Great Horned Owl - 1000 Islands Environmental Center - Kaukauna Photography - M. C. Kinney Photography

This Great Horned Owl is patiently waiting for the new owlet to be born in a nearby nest being monitored by its partner. Since someone else is doing the tough part, seems to be a good time for a nap! These images were taken on March 19th.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Dancing Sandhill Crane - Appleton Photography - M.C. Kinney Photography

Sandhill Crane migration has begun in Wisconsin and Appleton and the Fox Valley are no exception to the sightings! These two were observed next to a county road eating and dancing one early morning around 8am early this past week.

Their coloring is perfect camouflage for this time of the year! Of course, with all their dancing about they were hard to miss!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Great Horned Owl - 1000 Islands Environmental Center - Appleton Photographers - M. C. Kinney Photography

All winter I have been searching for this one bird, the Great Horned Owl. And until today it had remained elusive to me and my camera. But on a whim, and because I was up extra early this morning and had some extra time, I went to 1000 Islands Environmental Center in Kaukauna. Once arriving I wasn't certain if I was going to bother even getting out of the car, since I didn't see much but a couple of ducks and some geese. But I did get out and headed toward the river where I passed several men and off-handedly asked if any of them had seen any owls lately. I wasn't really expecting the response I received. One of the men, whose name I found out later was Jerry, said that yes, he did see an owl yesterday and knew exactly where to find it! So off we went...and I'm sooo glad I spoke to those men! Cause look at this beautiful speciman!

There were actually two birds present, but one was in a nearby nest and only the top if its head and eyes were visable. If you look closely, you'll see its ears and part of its right eye peering at you!

A huge thank you to Jerry for his help! I hope his grandkids enjoyed seeing these beautiful birds as much as I did!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Eagle - Screech Owl - Appleton Photographers - M. C. Kinney Photography

Went out this morning after a commercial shoot was rescheduled last minute and found myself with several hours to blow before work. I was already downtown so I headed toward the Fox River to look for some Eagles.

Found only the one but although he looks majestic, he wasn't very cooperative, so headed over to High Cliff to find a Screech Owl that's hanging out there. He didn't even notice my presence and didn't bat an eye the whole time I was there!
Thanks to Marie'-Andree' for the heads up on its location!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Snowy Owls - Freedom, Wisconsin - Appleton Photography - M.C. Kinney Photography

Found one very white Snowy owl in Freedom sitting in a field yesterday morning. This is not one of the owls that has spent most of December and January in Freedom, but instead one that's probably just moving through on its way back North. It was yawning as it basked in the sun but eventually decided to take off. Although I'm not usually a fan of flying away images, I love the shape of its wings in various movements of flight.