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.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Snowy Owl - Collins Marsh - Wisconsin - Appleton Photographers - M. C. Kinney Photography

I happened to be in Reedsville the other afternoon dropping off some sports images and envelopes for 1st Communion portraits so I naturally decided to swing by Collins Marsh and Killsnake Reserve to see what I could find before returning back to Appleton. If you're looking at a map, you'll know that neither Killsnake Reserve or Collins Marsh are on the way to Appleton from Reedsville, but hey, a girls gotta go a little out of her way for some fun! Killlsnake I saw only one hawk but didn't really get anything worthwhile. I may post it later if I can identify what kind it was (it was greyish with light blue eyes). I'm not sure if the man running with his dog scared the owls and hawks usually found out there in the late afternoon away from the road or not, but there really was nothing within a normal viewing area. So I headed over to Collins to see what I could find. In the Marsh I saw nothing, but high in the tower in the Osprey nest sat the female Snowy that's taken over.
I think the Snowy might think this is her spot since there is a snowflake in the window...kind of mixed messages to the birds if you ask me...
Live stream video of her can be seen here.

Seeing as this tower is incredibly high, I didn't stick around long but instead decided to head home. That's when I saw this one sitting on a pole.

It wasn't long before it decided to find a nice evening snack and headed away from me to get it.

Unlike some of the other Snowy's I've seen going in for the kill that have eaten their meals at the spot they caught them, this owl decided to return to its perch to eat. The mouse is in its left talons, grass is in the right.

And literally seconds after this shot, the mouse was...gone. About this time a man that had pulled over to see the owl came over to talk to me and called his son and daughter over to see some of the images I had taken. It's nice to see some of the younger ones interested in these unique birds. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Red-tailed Hawk - Fox River Valley - M. C. Kinney Photography - Downtown Appleton

This Red-tailed Hawk was again hanging out on the Fox River in the early morning sunshine last week. He's the first hawk I've seen that could quite frankly care less about my presence. So much so that I again walked under him, talked to him, and shared some time watching two immature eagles across the river soaring in unison.
He did occasionally  look down at me as I moved about, but for the most part he was not very interested in me or anything else around him.
As I started to leave, he did however act like he was hiding. Or at least, that's what this picture looks like.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Heckrodt Nature Reserve - Finches - Chickadee - Nuthatch - Woodpecker - Appleton Photographers - MC Kinney Photography

So many wonderful songbirds out at Heckrodt Nature Reserve last Thursday. This adult female Downy Woodpecker
and then a Red-bellied Woodpecker that flew so fast he flitted by, around a tree and off into the woods that I couldn't even get the camera pointed at him much less an image taken!
There were two American Goldfinches hanging out in nearby trees that never went to the feeders.

There were many Black-capped Chickadees coming and going.
This one doesn't even look like he flew in, but rather hopped onto the feeder!
There were about five or six Purple Finches both male and female, all very rotund!
And this beautiful adult female White-Breasted Nuthatch. I can always tell when it's a bit colder because the feeders are a lot busier!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Red-Tailed Hawk - Appleton Photographers - Bird Photography - M.C. Kinney Photography

Yesterday was a cold, windy day with a beautiful blue sky. I headed out to Freedom to look for some Snowy Owls but not a sighting to be had. On my way to the studio, I swung over to 1000 Islands Environmental Center, but other than one lone Common Goldeneye playing in the river and an Eagle way off in the distance, nothing. So off to work I went. But as I crossed the College Avenue bridge I thought I'd take a swing down along the river and found this rather large hawk.
I thought is was a Coopers Hawk or a Sharp-shinned but on closer review and some help from the facebook group Wisconsin Birding I'm pretty sure it's a Red-Tailed Hawk. This big guy stayed on this limb for over an hour (I left while it was still sitting there) although it did preen itself, fan out one of it's wings to it's full length, and turn around on the limb after I was there about a half an hour. Several people walked under it and at least 8 cars went under it. It just wasn't ready to fly away!
I did get this very interested look when I turned off my vehicle though.
And this look when I was walking back to my car! A lot of personality with this one. And unlike so many other hawks, it had no problem hanging around long enough for me to take some images!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Great Blue Heron - Bird Photography - M. C. Kinney Photography - Appleton Photographers

Yesterday the weather was pretty dreary, cloudy, rainy early in the morning, and damp. When I finally made it out to look for some birds, I only found one Snowy Owl deep into a field in Freedom (too far away to get anything but a speck on the images taken) so instead I thought I'd share something from the summer; when the weather was warmer and the sky was blue!

This Blue Heron was going deep for his breakfast in early August of 2014. The sunny sky and colorful reflections off the water really add to the beauty of that day.
Later it had caught a small minnow sized meal that seemed to be in shock that he'd been caught.
 And on the lookout for some more! Enjoy these summer images!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Snowy Owl - Freedom, WI - M. C. Kinney Photography - Appleton Photographer

A beautiful blue sky, albeit a bit chilly this morning, meant a drive out to Freedom to look for the Snowy Owls that have been wintering there. I hadn't been out there in about 3 weeks and hoped they were still nearby. I found this one right away on an electrical pole.

I've seen this one before but it looked a little larger than it did a month ago. Probably eating well given the lack of snow we've had in this area, making it easier to spot voles and mice in the farm fields. After about 35 minutes, it decided to take off and fly to a different location.
It obviously wasn't very interested in my presence as it didn't even look at me as it flew away.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Cardinal - Nuthatch - House Finch - Heckrodt Nature Center - M.C. Kinney Photography - Appleton Photographers

This morning it was a little cloudy out so I headed over to Menasha to the Heckrodt Nature Center to photograph some of the songbirds and hopefully some of the Cardinals that have been wintering there since a blue sky isn't really necessary for birds in trees images. When I first arrived there wasn't a bird in sight and I was a bit concerned that something was amiss. But after a few minutes, several squirrels approached the feeders and soon after that I heard several birds off in the distance. Soon enough a male Cardinal and several Junco's, Common Nuthatches, and House Finches flew into the surrounding trees and eventually flitted back and forth between the feeders and the trees.

The Cardinal only stayed for about ten minutes, mostly hanging out in the tree before finally sitting on the feeder and quickly eating about a dozen seeds next to a male House Finch (that looked like he was keeping a close eye on the Cardinal) and a Junco.

The Junco's and the Common Nuthatches however stayed longer but hidden mostly on the back side of the feeders. I did capture this pudgy little Nuthatch proud to show off the peanut he had.
It's almost bigger than his mouth!