My New Book


Skywatch Friday & Carpenter Nature Center

It’s Skywatch Friday again and I was out at Carpenter Nature Center this morning and thought I’d get a shot of sky. The sky was crisp and blue. And though it’s a lovely shade of blue, when put in the blog, it looks more like I just placed a blue box in the post. It needs some accents. Since there were no clouds to oblige, I had to work with earthly accents.

How about some goldenrod? I think this is the start of my favorite time of year at Carpenter. In late summer and early fall the prairie comes alive with color of yellows, reds, greens…

The asters are starting to burst open to. The purple itself is fine, but add a touch of that gorgeous blue sky is all part of the pallet.

And it’s not just the flowers, monarchs and swallowtails are nectaring on every blooming thing. This is a giant swallowtail on a a thistle. Note that sea of goldenrod capped off with a beautiful blue sky in the background. At Birds and Beers last night, I had a conversation with bird banders Roger and Mark about goldenrod fields and all the birds that lurk in them this time of year. They mentioned how many warblers are down in them. We had a net up in a goldenrod/sumac/dogwood field at Carpenter this morning and it was our most active net.

We got in a couple of Wilson’s warblers (or WIWA according to the American Ornithologists’ code) like the bird above and a Nashville…and oodles of flycatchers. Flycatchers just kind of take the wind out of my sails when banding. We get both alder and willow flycatchers in Minnesota and telling them apart this time of year (when they aren’t singing) involves algebra (that’s not an exaggeration). What heck kind of sadist has to ruin birding with math. I always feel like Tom Hanks in A League of their Own: “There’s no math in birding! There’s no math in birding!”

Here a second Wilson’s. It’s so buttery yellow–you can imagine how well it would hide in those goldenrod fields while gleaning insects off the flowers.

Check out the bottoms of the WIWA’s foot–it’s super yellow. Warblers are just cool from head to toe.

We did have a rather interesting chickadee show up– it was missing a foot! Fortunately, not the banded foot, so we were able to find out that we banded it last fall and it was healthy and had two feet when it was first banded. Wonder what happened? Did the toes freeze off over the winter? Did the bird fly into a window, injure its foot, resulting in a severe infection that caused the toes to fall off? Did it get bumblefoot?

Another surprise was finding a goldfinch incubating two eggs this late in August. I know goldfinches nest late, but this seems really late for Minnesota. Will be interesting to watch its progress over the next few weeks.

15 comments to Skywatch Friday & Carpenter Nature Center

  • chrome3d

    Your photos are so full of colours and life! That butterfly-pic was quite magical.

  • Laura ~Peach~

    awesome pictures how do you catch those birds without hurting them? Love your puzzle ring too :)
    happy weekend!

  • Columbo

    Loved all the photos, a great posting for SWF. I loved all the flowers, butterflies, and the birds. Great site.

  • Rambling Woods

    I always envy how close a bander can get and I didn’t know that about warblers, but I am pretty new to birding so much is new. Interesting about that little dee. I wonder what happened…Michelle

  • Berit

    They are all very beautiful!!!

  • Greyscale Territory

    Enjoyed these pics so much! Loved the butterfly detail, but the little bird pics were enchanting!

  • Wren

    I like the way you build the scene in first few by adding elements to each one. Great skywatch – you don’t often see that perfect a sky.

  • Abraham Lincoln

    Gosh with such magnificent photographs and such interesting information I was stunned that only one person was here ahead of me. It is one of the better posts I have seen and certainly one of the best ones about birds. Thanks for your work in getting it together.

    My Sky Watch photo is at Canon Pixels

  • Louise

    These are FANTASTIC photos! I’m laughing because right now I have amazing skies, but it will be over soon. It will just be deep blue, like this post’s, every single day. I had already thought of just putting up a box of blue to show why I’ll be using archived skies some of the time.

    But all your beautiful things accented by the sky are incredible!

  • Kelly

    Your comment made me laugh, but I actually like your photo of a clear, blue sky with no complications and additions to it. I like that it is different!

    Love the awesome birds and butterfly photos as well…

  • imac

    Great theme for Skywatch, one of the best posts.

  • PJ

    Getting a Sky Watch Friday photo can be an adventure and this looks like a great one. I especially like the photos of bird banding. To hold a wild bird in your hand….

  • Jess

    Holy cow, look at that monster butterfly!

    The sky picture has a lovely gradient thing going on. I like it. :)

  • Larry

    Some slow day, please do a piece on “bumblefoot”. What is it? Where does it come from? What to do about it?

  • kjpweb

    Wonderful shots! Did you notice that you have a blue box on top? ;)
    I wish I’d be able to get me one of them…
    Cheers, Klaus