Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Trillium.  The woodlands are still producing their crop of wildflowers despite the record breaking rains that we have been getting.  We are approaching 15 inches of moisture for a 6 week period.  Our average yearly rainfall is about 30 inches.  Many of these photos are from past years as we have not been able to get good flower photos for some time now.

Wild Columbine often misnamed as honeysuckle


Woodland phlox

May Apple in bloom

Wild Geranium


Virginia Bluebells on an old floodplain


Trout Lily

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Our neighbor called yesterday to say his wife had discovered a turkey's nest with freshly laid eggs in it.   There were twelve eggs at that time.  When he took me to see the nest, there were 13.  Apparently, there can be several more eggs in a nest than that.  Not wanting to disturb this nest again, we will not go back to see.  The coyotes were howling and raising up a storm just north of our house last night in the general vicinity of this nest.  Hopefully they were not celebrating a lucky find.  

American Goldfinch.

Tree Swallows are common in our area in the summer.  They often use our Bluebird nesting boxes to set up housekeeping.    They like to nest in hollow spots in dead trees, but those are not always available.   Living in the country beyond city ordinance and the eyes of neighbors,  we have left an old dying apple tree on our lawn.  It is amazing what this old tree attracts.  Eventually I will have to take it down, but right now it is great wildlife habitat.

Arriving several weeks ago, this Eastern Towhee appears to have taken up residence with us.  We hear his song and see him every day.  Hopefully he has a lady friend (we haven't seen one yet) and they will nest here.  The Towhee is a larger bird (about 7 1/4 inches)  and although its colors are black, white, and rust, they are vivid.  They scratch on the ground for their food and  also nest on or near the ground.  This makes them vulnerable to preditors.   When the neighbors cats are out prowling at night, the Towhee is in danger!!   Stray cats have become a problem for all our ground and low shrub nesters. 

The Veery is a member of the Spotted-Breasted Thrush family.   They are listed as common in our area.  They nest on or near the ground in deciduous woods.  It has a beautiful song and it is such a treat to hear it.  There are a couple of very specific spots in Forestville that if I am hiking through in the morning in the summer, I am almost sure to hear the Veery.  Both trails involve steep hills, but I am willing to pay the price to hear this bird singing. 

A flycatcher in the family of Empidonax flycatchers. 

The Wilson's Warbler is a quick little bird which we always look for in thickets and shrubs lower to the ground. The male is yellow with a black cap and a beginning birder might mistake it for a goldfinch at first glance.   Wilson's seem to be one of our later arrivals among the warblers, and like most, will travel on and not nest in our area.  TO SEE MORE PICTURES, GO UP AND TO THE RIGHT AND CLICK ON MAY 2013 OR ANY OTHER MONTH IN THE ARCHIVES

Foraging mainly on the ground, the Palm Warbler can be a lot easier to spot the the "tree-toppers".  It also frequently bobs its tail up and down as it forages, making it easier to identify.  Being named the Palm Warbler would lead you to think it nested in palm trees, but no.  It goes far to the north  where the bogs are located and nests there.  We can always count on seeing the Palm Warblers during migration.

The Tennessee Warblers are fairly colorless birds as warblers go.  The black stripe through the eye, along with lack of wingbars and coloration helps us identify them.  We always see quite a few of these in migration, but our bird books tell us that they only breed in northeastern Minnesota and Canada. 

We continue our spring birding mania, although we have to admit the peak of the warbler migration  has occurred in our area.  We met a man in Forestville on May 18 who had come up from Colorado to bird.  He said he had good luck, but not great luck in southern Minnesota.  He was headed up to the northern part of our state to see the warblers in their natural habitats and maybe pick up a few more species. ( So we figure he is even more obsessed than we are)   Pictured above is the American Redstart.  Common in our area, we will see them through the summer.  They are very quick little birds and hardly sit still long enough to photograph, but this little guy was accomodating.

Monday, May 13, 2013


Marsh Marigolds.   Sorry we have not posted pictures lately but the flowers are up, the warblers are arriving, and we are sunburned from being outside too much. We saw 17 species of warblers this weekend and got some pictures of a few species (posted below).  We also have pictures of other birds, flowers, etc. that we have encountered in our wanderings over the past two weeks.


Yellow-rumped Warblers are the most common warbler that passes through our area.

Yellow Warblers are up in good numbers.  They do nest here close to water.

Nashville Warbler. We  saw many in the picnic area of Forestville St. Park. They are migrating through.

Black and White Warbler

The Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have arrived at our place. They are great singers.

The Catbirds are already making their almost cat-like call.  TO SEE MORE PHOTOS GO UP AND TO THE RIGHT AND CLICK ON MAY 2013 OR ANY OTHER MONTH.

Osprey-"fish eagle".    Friends of ours got this picture at some ponds south of Spring Valley, Mn.
They are fish eaters. They do nest this far south, but we have not seen an active nest in Fillmore County.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.  A very small bird that nests in this area.  It catches small insects, as its name suggests.

Harris sparrow-migrating through.

Gray-cheeked Thrush-robin relative

Green Heron on horse hitching post in Forestville State Park.

Moss backed snapping turtle crossing the trail.  It might be looking for a mate.

Painted turtles are on the move.

Yellow Bellworts are now bloooming.

The False Rue Anemone are carpeting the floodplain forest floors now.

Wild Ginger.  A single small flower blooms at the base of the leaves.  If you bend over and look inside this flower, you will see its true beauty.

May Apples are just opening their umbrellas.  A single white flower will bloom underneath.

The Yellow Trout Lilies are blooming in Whitewater State Park in southeastern Minnesota.  They are less common than the White Trout Lilies, which are also beginning to bloom. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Woodland Flowers and Migrating Birds May 2, 2013

Hepatica is one of the earliest spring wildflowers to bloom in our area.   It is a flower which leads me further and further into the woods, because every time I think I have found the prettiest bloom, I look up and find another one I need to photograph.   Hepatica comes in a variety of colors from white to pink to lavendar to dark blue to purple. ( I could post 50 pictures!)  It blooms in good numbers in the woodlands.

These flowers show a different shade of color.  Almost a lavendar or pinkish hue.

A brilliant blue Hepatica.

Probably the most common color for the Hepatica is white.  This is a brilliant, full clump.

Another clump pushing its way up through the leaf litter.  Note the "furry" stems on these flowers. 

 The pollinators are busy doing their work.  This beefly is busy on the Hepatica.

Every spring the Skunk Cabbage emerge from the seeps in Forestville State Park.   We look for them to appear first among the spring wildflowers.  We know of three separate areas to look for them within the park and they never disappoint us.  They need a very specialized environment, but where that occurs, they bloom in good number.  GO UP AND TO THE RIGHT TO SEE MORE PICTURES OF SPRING BIRDS AND FLOWERS.

This Skunk Cabbage is in full bloom.   The leaf will open and be quite large.

April 29 we found our first Bloodroot blooming on one our favorite trails in Forestville State Park.  This, along with the Hepatica, is among the earliest of the bloomers.  This trail has a south facing slope which warms up early and is always a good place to look for the early flowers.

Another pretty patch of Bloodroot.