Some Trumpeter Swans spend the winter near the St. Croix River. They are one of the largest Minnesota birds with a wing span of almost eight feet. Their long graceful neck and snow white plumage make them easy to identify. I usually hear their trumpet-like call before seeing them.
This winter, I’ve seen more Trumpeter Swans than in past years. They are living up river a short ways. I hear them calling to each other, sometimes quietly, other times with great, loud honks. Near sunset, they fly home from nearby corn fields and wherever else they go to during the day. They return in small groups, mostly of two to seven. Some larger groups fly home together. When I hear their calls, I search the far shore to see them return, flying with their long necks fully extended.
Stillwater’s riverfront is turning into a winter wonderland. They turned on the water a few days ago when the weather turned cold. A magical castle is slowly appearing next to the gazebo at Lowell Park. This castle isn’t build with ice blocks, it is growing by spraying water.
Ice castle on Stillwater’s waterfront
For an aerial view of ice castle watch this video. Introducing Stillwater Ice Castle
For more information: www.IceCastles.com/Stillwater
Yesterday, I went for a walk by the St. Croix River around sunset. Low clouds had covered the sky, making for a gray day. Eagles called and chatted. I searched the trees looking for them. They sounded close. Then I spotted something white near the water. A pair of eagles sat on a downed tree in the water near the far shore. They were chatting with at least one more eagle further away. I took several pictures, with the low lighting conditions, I wasn’t sure they would even turn out. As the sky grew darker, first one eagle and then the other flow low over the river to the south and disappeared into the trees.
Eagles sitting on downed tree on St. Croix River.
The first winter storm of the season is howling outside. We’ve had mostly rain and maybe an inch of snow. Strong winds are blowing the trees and whipping up waves on the river. A good night to be by the fireplace sipping apple cider. November is known for snow storms and NaNoWriMo.
National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo – started in 1999 with 21 people in the San Francisco area. It’s grown to hundreds of thousands of people who are attempting to write 50,000 words during the month of November. I’ve participated twice, once officially. I wrote around 46,000 words both times. Enough for me to create the first rough draft of a manuscript.
While I’m not trying to write 50,000 words this month, I’m attending a weekly write-in and using the time to work on scenes in the manuscript I’m rewriting. Yes, rewriting from first person to third. I’ve been attending a writer’s workshop where I’ve gotten feedback and suggestions on areas to work on. I wonder if … is a great way to provide someone with an ideas on how to improve their work-in-progress. Sometimes you are too close to your own words to see the problems.
Mary Divine is a reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, covering Washington County and the St. Croix River Valley. She wrote an article about the Pictures of Stillwater group photo walk at Arcola Mills. A picture she took of me in in the article and posted here with her permission. Link to article.
Karen Schulz, of May Township, takes a photo of the St. Croix River during a “Pictures of Stillwater” Facebook group outing at Arcola Mills, north of Stillwater, during the Pictures of Stillwater Fall Meet up and Photo walk on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016. The group is dedicated to sharing photos and context telling the stories of the river town of Stillwater, Minn. (Pioneer Press: Mary Divine)
This is the photo I talked about with Mary. I was walking along A-dock with Greg and he noticed the osprey circling overhead. I followed the bird with my camera, snapping pictures as it dove and few off with a fish.
An Osprey fishing AND catching on a friday night by the Stillwater Lift Bridge before it flew back to Wisconsin with its catch, did it have a license? ;)…
I spent last Saturday at Arcola Mills at a Pictures of Stillwater FB group photo walk. What a great way to meet other photographers from the area.
The mill at Arcola Mills
The blue skies and slightly warmer temperatures were perfect for hiking in the woods.
With all the rain we’ve had recently, many different types of mushrooms were growing on trees.
Fairy village of mushrooms
Arcola Mills is having an open house on Sunday October 9 from 1 PM – 4 PM. Greg will be there with his drone and answering questions about drone photography.
When I started walking up the road away from the river this evening, Sand Hill Cranes called in the distance. I waited, but they stayed away. Just teased me with their calls.
Now is the time of year for migratory birds to be flying to their summer homes. Many stay in Minnesota. Tropical Wings has migratory bird celebration activities scheduled over the next couple of days. I submitted a poem to the their poetry contest and won first place! I titled my poem ‘Waiting for Spring’. same as my last blog post. You know what was on my mind after Minnesota winter. We went to a reception/program last night at the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson where I read my poem. The St. Croix River national riverway has several sister parks in Costa Rica. One of the visiting Costa Rica park rangers gave a presentation on birds that migrate between Costa Rica and Minnesota. Many migratory birds spend the winters in and near Costa Rica.
The Baltimore Oriole feasting on grape jelly in my backyard on this cold spring morning has flown over two thousand miles to be here.
The Scarlet Tanager spends the summer in Minnesota. They can be spotted as bright flash of red in the trees.
The ground was covered in a white blanket of snow this morning. Spring is struggling to overcome winter.
Last Saturday I visited the Dallas Arboretum.
Spring flowers bloomed everywhere. Helped me forget about the cold weather up north.
Today is the first really cold day of winter with sub-freezing wind chills. Woodpeckers, black-capped chickadees, red and white-breasted nuthatch, dark-eyed junco and others have been visiting the feeders.
Pileated Woodpecker visit