Posts from the ‘Friends of Sax-Zim Bog’ Category

Virtually Live 9: Bog BioBlitz VIII in Sax-Zim Bog

Accompany Executive Director Sparky Stensaas on this mid July outing in the Sax-Zim Bog

Virtually Live “Waffles & Warblers” field trip 7: Sax-Zim Bog May 24, 2020

It’s the Virtually Live edition of Waffles & Warblers! Except Sparky has Grape Nuts for breakfast instead. Twelve species of colorful warblers are found in the Sax-Zim Bog…and all are on breeding territory. Golden-winged Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Mourning Warbler, and more. Plus Bobolink heaven along Arkola Road. And Sparky makes an announcement about a new video series. Will this be the last Virtually Live birding field trip? Stay tuned!

Virtually Live 5 Birding Field Trip Sax Zim Bog May 11, 2020

In this week’s installment of Virtually Live in Sax-Zim Bog, Sparky takes us on a fly-over of the little-explored Blue Dasher Bog where he searches for Trumpeter Swans. We also bird Stone Lake Road and Zim Road. Great looks at a gorgeous drake Blue-winged Teal, singing Yellow-rumped Warbler, flapping Sandhill Crane, nest-building Trumpeter Swans and more. Three FOY (first-of-year) species are found including two iconic Sax-Zim Bog breeding birds…LeConte’s Sparrow and Sedge Wren.

[Shot with Panasonic GH5 & Sigma 50-500mm lens (for bird videos); Sony A6500 and Rokinon 12 mm lens (for vlogging); DJI Phantom 4 Pro (drone aerials); Bird sounds recorded with Sennheiser 18″ shotgun microphone and Zoom H4n recorder; Voice sound with Rode Micro mic.]

Virtually Live 4 Birding/Photography Field Trip to Sax-Zim Bog May 4, 2020

Virtually Live 4 Birding Field Trip to Sax-Zim Bog May 4, 2020

The day starts out promising with sunny skies, calm winds and a very cooperative drake Wood Duck, and then it gets even better with some RARE BIRDS for Sax-Zim: the Meadowlark of the prairies, a sparrow not normally found in northeast Minnesota, a surprising warbler on territory, and a pair of grassland-loving shorebirds (Thanks to FOSZB Head Naturalist Clinton and his eagle-eyed wife Kristina!). A very FAT and cooperative “quill pig” is the “Superstar Mammal of the Day,” but what will be the Superstar Bird? Stick around for the surprise procreative ending to Sparky’s Virtually Live field trip!

Birding with Sparky 3: Virtually Live from Sax-Zim Bog: April 28, 2020

Tuesday, April 28, 2020.
Join Executive Director Sparky Stensaas on a 5 hour birding, photography, video tour in northeastern Minnesota’s Sax-Zim Bog. We visit Nichols Lake, the Warren Woessner Bog Boardwalk, Admiral Road willow flats and the Welcome Center. Wild Turkeys in full display, slow motion video of Wilson’s Snipe doing their aerial courtship display, Porcupine eating willow catkins.

NOTE: If you view in highest possible format, you can actually see the stiff outer tail feathers of the Wilson’s Snipe vibrating. The air rushing through these specially adapted feathers is what creates the “winnowing” aerial courtship display sound.

Virtual Field Trip 2— Birding Sax-Zim Bog April 21, 2020

Our second Friends of Sax-Zim Bog Virtually Live birding field trip. April 21, 2020. On this outing Sparky Stensaas nearly drives right by a Great Gray Owl, finds cooperative pairs of Sandhill Cranes, photographs late Snow Buntings and Northern Shrikes and more. We wind our way around the Sax-Zim Bog from 6:20 am to 11:15 am with stops at Stone Lake, Sax Road, St. Louis River, Arkola and more. Superstar bird of the day is ????

Last Day of my Big Half Year for the Bog! Best Bird Photos

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 Hwy 1 milepost 302.9 Ely MN IMG_3902SPRUCE 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.

Common Redpoll Admiral Road Sax-Zim Bog MN IMG_0076238 (1)I laid flat on my stomach on a snow-covered road to get this unique portrait of a COMMON REDPOLL in Sax-Zim Bog.

Wild Turkey Skogstjarna Carlton Co MN IMG_6733Believe it or not, this WILD TURKEY was displaying just outside our living room window! Photo taken through double paned glass.

Yellow-rumped Warbler Skogstjarna Carlton Co MN IMG_7224This image of a YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER typifies the “spring” we had. Taken in LATE APRIL during a spring snowstorm, this insect-eater resorted to feeding at our suet feeder.

Turkey Vulture snow Fond du Lac Duluth MN IMG_7606Another late-spring image of a bird we rarely see in the snow…a TURKEY VULTURE.

Killdeer CR201 Sax-Zim Bog MN IMG_8053 copyBehavior shots are always interesting. These KILLDEER are not training for their circus act, but getting ready to mate up in Sax-Zim.

Horned Grebe Park Pt Duluth MN IMG_9081I love these birds! And have rarely gotten close to them. But the ice-clogged bay side of Duluth’s Park Point kept the HORNED GREBES close to shore.

American White Pelican St. Louis River Fond du Lac Duluth MN IMG_9999A AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN flock occasionally shows up in late May on the St. Louis River at Fond du Lac, Duluth. They spend a few weeks here loafing, fishing, preening, sleeping, before moving on.

American Bittern Ditchbanks Fond du Lac S.F. Carlton Co MN IMG_5663“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.

Bohemian Waxwing crabapple Duluth Zoo Duluth MN IMG_8418This 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.

Sandhill Cranes corn field Carlton Co MN IMG_7534 (1)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.

Black-capped Chickadee landing on feeder Skogstjarna Carlton Co MN MG_0074299BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE coming to my feeder at dawn on a cold winter day, backlit by the rising sun and intentionally underexposed.

Trumpeter Swans 3 landing backlit Monticello MN IMG_0073476Monticello, Minnesota. 3 TRUMPETER SWANS

Sharp-tailed Grouse lek blind Kettle River Twp Carlton Co MN IMG_7840: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.

Great Gray Owl Nichols Lake Rd closer to CR7 Sax-Zim Bog MN IMG_3891Silhouetted GREAT GRAY OWL. …the wildness of the bog lands.