Well, today, June 30th is the last day for our FUNDRAISER FOR FRIENDS OF SAX-ZIM BOG. It is an event we called THE BIG HALF YEAR FOR THE BOG. A “Big Year” to birders, is a challenge to see as many species of birds in a calendar year. Maybe some of you saw the highly entertaining (at least to birders) movie by the same name—The Big Year—starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson. Our take was a bit different…For starters it was only a half year…and birders could set their own parameters. Each birder created their own web page to promote their effort. People can pledge lump sums or per species. All dollars donated go to the non-profit I founded, Friends of Sax-Zim Bog, whose mission is to PRESERVE, PROMOTE AND PROTECT THE SAX-ZIM BOG IMPORTANT BIRD AREA. We have already raised over $5,000 and we’ll be accepting pledges through the month of July.
I chose to see how many birds I could photograph in Minnesota in six months (I did annex part of western Wisconsin but don’t tell!). When planning my Big Half Year, I imagined that between family and work I could realistically digitally capture about 100 species of birds. And I wanted to really work on getting very good and creative photos, not just snapshots. Well, I nearly doubled my goal, and as of tonight June 29th, I’m at 198 species! Ninety-five percent of the images were taken within a 50 mile radius of home with the other five percent taken on a trip to Minnesota’s western prairies in May. The best part is that I feel my photos of 104 species are better or equal to any images I’ve taken of those species ever before…And I’ve added 24 new species to my collection. You can see many more of my Big Half Year photos here. Here are a few of my favorites.
SPRUCE GROUSE male near Ely, Minnesota in mid winter. They live on spruce and jack pine needles in the winter but need sharp quartz rocks in their crop to help grind the needles up, so you can often find them picking grit on the roads at dawn.
“He can’t see me…No way…I am blending in with the cattails…Oh, wait, I’m out on the road!” is probably what this frog-hunting AMERICAN BITTERN is thinking. Fond du Lac State Forest, Carlton County, Minnesota.
This image of a BOHEMIAN WAXWING had to be taken in the wilds of the great white north, right? Wrong! It was taken at the Duluth Zoo as dozens of kids (noisy kids! …including my own) walked within mere feet of this crabapple tree as the flock gorged.
A grab-and-go image that I didn’t think much about until I got home and started to play around with it on the computer. I like the stark pattern and the curving line of corn stubble. SANDHILL CRANES in Carlton County Minnesota, late April.
:I was the first person to the SHARP-TAILED GROUSE blind in Kettle River Twp, Carlton County this year…and it was late April!…and I had to trudge through a foot of snow…But I got the shot I’d always wanted…A Sharptail dancing on top of the snow in beautiful morning light.