Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Weekend of Flighty Firsts!

I have and do spend so much time on the canal, I often wonder when I will stop seeing new things.  Luckily, that hasn't happened yet:)  Honestly, I don't think it will ever happen.  I used to think "new" had to be species, but now that's certainly not the case.  There are so many animal habits that I have never seen, and those are pretty much endless.

Saturday, I took a nice long bike ride over to the Feeder Canal Basin by Sheffield.  This is the area where the north/south feeder canal empties into the east/west channel.

ONce I got on the southern trail, I spotted a very large bird swooping down around a flock of ducks that were in the water.  I could tell it was a raptor.  It was too big to be a red tailed hawk, so I started to think eagle.  Right after I thought that, it let out its call and I knew what it was instantly, but I really couldn't believe it.  It was an osprey!  The only place I've seen osprey is in Florida on vacation.  I know they migrate up and down the Mississippi River, but I've never seen them.  This osprey flew directly over me twice so I got a good look, and heard its call several times.  No mistake at all.  The downside to this guessed it......I didn't have my good camera, just the point and shoot:(  I wanted to kick myself.

On the way back, I could see two large birds sitting right on the path.  I was hoping for osprey, but I had a hunch about what it was.  I rode my bike slowly closer, and then got off to walk it slowly.  I got my tiny little Nikon ready and took a new photo every 5 yards or so.  By the time I got closer, I already knew they were turkey vultures, but they were showing an interesting display.

They stood there like this for quite some time, and to me, it seemed territorial because they usually fly away on first sight of me.  These guys were standing their ground a bit.  I kept moving closer, and they finally got nervous and flew away.  It was evident what they were guarding when I got there:

Two new firsts!  A new species for the canal and a new behavior!  I sulked a bit that night, angry at myself for not strapping my camera to my back.  Stupid!  Stupid!  Stupid!  Someday I'll learn.

Today, I decided to leave the bike at home, strap on the camera, and take a hike in the same area.  I really wanted that osprey.  Just as I was pulling up to the parking area, I spotted 10 turkey in the field.  Nothing new here, but they were fun to photograph.

Not long after getting out of the car, I got a nice shot of this red-winged blackbird.  Nothing new here either, but I love to get them when they are calling.

Now for something new!  I spotted two northern flickers doing their mating dance!  I've never seen this before and it was absolutely fascinating!

I wandered down a couple of bridges and spotted pintails, northern shovelers, and mallards, but couldn't get any decent shots.  I decided to move and head back over by Atkinson where I had seen the otter in the last know, the other time I forgot to bring my good camera!

The otter has been busy marking up the exact same spot with his scat.  The last time I was here, I only found one old pile, but there were four new ones marking the trail from the canal to the little drainage ditch.

Not seeing the otter, I wandered down a bit further and came across another first!  Two great white egrets were sitting on the path of the canal!  I've seen them on the rivers, but never on the Hennepin.  Very skittish birds, they are.

A long winded post, lots of photos, and several "firsts" to add to my Hennepin Canal experiences.  The setting of dusk drove me back to the truck reluctantly, but I just had to get one photo that wasn't a bird!


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