Sunday, October 10, 2010

October Afternoon

We took a drive west and northwest of Northfield this afternoon to admire the autumn colors and to see what was out and about in the bird world in southern Minnesota.

We stopped at two or three lakes (the best was the one on the north side of Hwy 19 just after the first roundabout west of Lonsdale) that had good populations of birds, seeing probably hundreds of Canada geese, dozens of Mallards and Coots, at least a dozen Pied-billed Grebes, a pair of swans with four large gray cygnets, five shorebirds (probably two Lesser and one Greater Yellowlegs, plus two Killdeer), a huge flock of gulls in the air, a few Red-winged Blackbirds, a handful of Ruddy Ducks, a handsome Redhead, a couple of Ring-necked Ducks, some Northern Shovelers, and a Great Blue Heron that slowly circled its lake, trying to land without success on several treetops and then returning to the treetop from which it had started. Of all of these, I only captured the heron in a presentable photo. But the fall leaves presented easier subjects for photography.

Click on any of the photos to see them larger.

Autumn color at Union Lake, where the only birds we saw were three gulls

Great Blue Heron on a treetop overlooking a lake in New Market (photo taken through the spotting scope)

This wildflower is a bit puzzling. The flower head certainly looks like a type of clover, and it does have trefoil leaves (arranged in groups of three) as clovers do, but these somewhat elongated, hairy leaves don't look like those of a typical clover. Still, I assume it belongs somewhere in the clover family.
(Click on the photo to see the fine hairs on the leaves and stem.)

Virginia creeper on a tree trunk, backed by yellow maple leaves

Hilly rural road

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