OMG, there’s a Peep on the dock!

Peep on the dock!

Peep on the dock!

Pandemonium reigned as I got out the camera and snuck in for a closer look.

Sandpiper, one of the peeps

Sandpiper, one of the "peeps"

Shorebirds for the most part will sometimes let you approach quite close. Maybe because this bird had just flown in from the arctic tundra making it “un-used” to modern civilization and all the dangers that may entail.

The smallest of Sandpipers are known collectively as peeps. In the Midwest there are generally 3 species that fall into this category: the Semipalmated Sandpiper, the Least Sandpiper, the Western Sandpiper, and sometimes the White-rumped Sandpiper although the last one is slightly bigger than the other three. Usually the Least Sandpiper is the most common of the Peeps and can be identified by its yellow-green legs. Semipalmated Sandpipers have black legs.  Western Sandpipers have even more subtle differences, and aren’t very common in Minnesota.

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper

There were all these little specks, that were tiny insects, on the dock that the bird was going after. There’s one now! Double take – that speck didn’t have a chance!

semipalmate

semipalmate

Now, what a funny name for a bird this “Semipalmated” thing. In Ornithology, the word palmated refers to the webbing between a bird’s foot. Usually webbed feet are typical of waterfowl like ducks. As you can see in this photo, there is partial webbing between this bird’s toes. And back in the early days, when most birds were identified in the hand, this may differentiate the small peeps. It’s a goofy name and also one that’s hard to spit out when you’re excited, so most people simply refer to them as Semipalms. (there’s also a Semipalmated Plover, so it can get a little confusing when you’re out in the field and there’s tons of shorebirds because both birds can, and do, occur together)

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It’s been a great year for fungi…

Mushrooms

Mushrooms

There is a bumper crop of mushrooms in the forest this summer. The abundant rain that we received earlier in the season has helped everything in the forest thrive.

Is this a Chantarelle mushroom? My field guide says they are “emminently edible”. I haven’t had the nerve to give them a try as I’m not entirely positive about their identity.

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Fall Warblers and the confusion they cause…

Here is a link to a really great website about Warblers. Although the author is from Georgia, the photos can be used anywhere as a reference. There are some great shots of Warblers in their breeding (alternate) plumage as well as their drab winter (basic) plumage. http://www.giffbeaton.com/warblers.htm

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More immatures

immature Junco

immature Junco

The immature Junco from the backside looks very sparrow-like, and the Genus Junco is included in the Emberizidae family which includes Sparrows.  This is probably a Dark-eyed Junco and the scientific name is Junco hyemalis, with hyemalis translating to “winter”, for this is when most of these birds are seen in the U.S.

When this bird took flight, its’ outer tail feathers flashed their distinctive white. In the fall, hundreds of Juncos will line the roadsides and when a car drives by they will all fly up flashing those white tail feathers.

Warbler, Tennessee?

Warbler, Tennessee?

Now, here’s the mystery bird. I’m not sure if it’s a Tennessee Warbler, but it does have the white undertail coverts that Sibley talks about in his field guide. And the pale supercilium, that’s the white streak above the eye, would indicate a Tennessee.
The Scientific name is Vermivora peregrina, with Vermivoa meaning “worm-eating” and peregrina meaning “wandering”. Maybe we should start calling it the Peregrine Warbler! Here’s the kicker, Wilson named the bird because he had only obtained 2 specimens in his lifetime and considered it a very rare bird. Makes you wonder how many other specimens he had collected throughout his life. Alexander Wilson (1766-1813) is considered the “Father of American Ornithology” and named many of the birds we know today. The way they practised ornithology back in the olden days was with a shotgun – times have changed…
Tennessee Warbler

Tennessee Warbler

This is the Tennessee Warbler in his breeding plumage. The gray on the head changes to a yellowish green in the winter.
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Fall Black-throated Green Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler in fall

Black-throated Green Warbler in fall

I’m pretty sure this is a Black-throated Green Warbler. Either it’s a juvenile who is just getting his adult plumage or it is a molting adult. According to the field guides, Black-throated Green’s don’t really molt into a drab plumage like some other Wood-Warbler species do. Here’s a photo of a Black-throated Green in all it’s breeding glory:

Black-throated Green Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

For a “fall” Warbler guide go to the Phenology page on http://www.kaxe.org/ scroll down on the page a bit, and look for “Warblers, a Harry Hutchins  guide”.
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Swimming Eagle

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZP8O_KVNCw[/youtube]

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Blue Bead Lily

Blue Bead Lily

Blue Bead Lily

At this time of the year the name Blue Bead Lily makes sense. The bright blue berries of this plant are everywhere in the woods right now. Don’t get them confused with Blueberries – the berries from this lily are poisonous.

Clintonia

Clintonia

In spring, the flower of this plant is quite beautiful. They are in flower right before the Mocassin Flower Orchids start blooming. The scientific name of this plant is Clintonia borealis. New York Governor DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828) is credited with the name. He was an early naturalist and he’s most famous for the promotion of the construction of the Erie Canal.

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Woodland Wildflowers

Rose Twisted Stalk

Rose Twisted Stalk

The berries of the Rose Twisted Stalk are out now. The beautiful translucent cherry-red berries are also known as “liver berries”. The name Twisted Stalk arises from the zigzag nature of its’ growth. The stem of the plant chnges direction at each leaf juncture.

Rose Twisted Stalk in bloom

Rose Twisted Stalk in bloom

The flowers of the Rose Twisted Stalk are fairly insigficant – you have to look under the leaves for the dainty flowers.

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More Merg babies

Common Merganser merglings

Common Merganser merglings

Are baby Mergansers called “merglings”?

Common Merganser family

Common Merganser family

Stretch and flap those little wings!

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Yellow Coneflower

Yellow Coneflower

Yellow Coneflower

The wildflower Yellow Coneflower is in bloom now. They are in bloom along with many, many Black-eyed Susans and Ox-eye Daisies.

Yellow Coneflower

Yellow Coneflower

Many different species of Bees were buzzing around the flowers.

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