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Writer | Nature Photographer | Adventurer | Data Engineer | Data Analyst | Programmer

Birds, Wildlife, Nature, and Photography

When most other birds were absent on a hot day, the vireo displayed welcome color

Yellow-throated vireo. Photo by the author.

Even in mid-morning, the air was warm and heavy at Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge. By then, the hike to view and watch birds had become a chore. On each day of the seven-day heatwave, the temperature had exceeded 90° Fahrenheit (32.22° Celsius). The forecast didn’t look better.


Wildlife, Nature, and Photography

A canoe turns out to be a good wildlife watching platform

A mink peeks out from behind a rock. Photo by the author.

“No matter how few possessions you own or how little money you have, loving wildlife and nature will make you rich beyond measure.”― Paul Oxton

A breeze propelled the canoe on Halfmoon Lake, a backwater of the Mississippi River. The goals for the morning voyage were to experience the new boat, catch a few fish, and soak up the warm sunshine.


Wildlife, the American West, and Photography

Prairie dogs steal the show from bison, elk, deer, and bighorn sheep. They are also a keystone species.

Could these prairie dogs be having a conversation? Photo by the author.

Has a wild rabbit or squirrel ever appeared at a zoo while you observed an animal in captivity? If so, it likely drew the attention of children and some adults because it was cute. Prairie dogs affect people in that way. They draw attention and smiles away from magnificent bison, elk, or deer as they walk nearby.


Reptiles, Amphibians, Wildlife, and Photography

Common snapping turtles can be aggressive out of water. But this mother was too busy laying her clutch of eggs to concern herself with me.

A female common snapping turtle laying eggs. Note the pile of soil behind the turtle, left from the hole she dug. Photo by the author.

Perhaps I am the turtle, able to live simply anywhere, even underwater for short periods, with my home on my back. — Kurt Vonnegut

Whitewater State Wildlife Management Area is my favorite place to view and photograph birds. This morning, as I drove through the large preserve, I spotted a common snapping turtle in the grass on the side of the road.

I parked the car and walked toward the turtle. But it didn’t budge.


Birds, Nature, Wildlife, and Photography

The idiom “wild goose chase” originated in the sixteenth century. In this real-life wild goose chase, an angry trumpeter swan chased a Canada goose and prevailed in the end.

A trumpeter swan chases a Canada goose. Photo by the author.

We have all experienced the folly of a fruitless wild goose chase. We express the term after we have pursued a goal that does not exist, is unachievable, or is not worth its price in money, time, or effort.

The first use of the idiom wild goose chase was recorded in 1593 by English poet Gervais Markham in a book on horsemanship. A wild goose chase was a horse race where contestants chased an erratic lead horse. William Shakespeare used the term in his play Romeo and Juliet that premiered in 1597.


Birds, Birdwatching, Wildlife, and Photography

Meteorological summer has arrived. Now is an excellent time to complete the series “The Birds of Spring.”

“In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.” — Robert Lynd

Western meadowlark. Photo by the author.

All my life, I have considered the first day of summer to occur on the longest day of the year, usually June 21. But in recent years, I have heard weather forecasters describe meteorological summer, which takes up the entire months of June, July, and August.

Minnesota, where I live, has (or suffers) a proper continental climate. My city of Rochester, at 46° north latitude, is situated about halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. Still, winters are long and cold…


Birds, Birdwatching, and Photography

Eastern kingbirds sit calmly on their perch as I watch and photograph them from nearby

Eastern kingbird. Photo by the author.

“Everyone likes birds. What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird?” — David Attenborough

I sneak up on birds to view and photograph them. Sometimes, I zigzag toward them to reduce the threat of intimidation. Still, many birds flee before I raise the camera and lens.

But eastern kingbirds are different. They remain calm on their perches as I observe and photograph them from nearby.


History. Travel. Photography

From 1836 to 1861, Abraham Lincoln lived in Springfield, Illinois

Abraham Lincoln home in Springfield, Illinois. Photo by the author.

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. — Abraham Lincoln

In April, my wife and I traveled south from Minnesota to visit our son, a student at Iowa State University in Ames. The weather forecast was stellar, with sunshine and summer-like temperatures. So, we extended the original day trip into a three-night mini-vacation.

We had not eaten inside a restaurant since the coronavirus pandemic began. The unseasonable and beautiful weather would allow us to dine alfresco.

We enjoyed a picnic lunch with our son in…


Birds, animals, nature, and photography

Unusual birds like the green heron add excitement to the activities of bird photography and birdwatching

Green heron. Photo by the author.

Bird photography keeps me on my toes. Capturing a keeper photograph can involve many variables.

The weather, sky, and light fluctuate with every outing, sometimes by the minute. Birds are on the move and come and go.


Birds, Nature, Wildlife, and Photography

Birds can be difficult to identify. When all else fails, ask experts over the Internet to receive a quick answer.

Orchard oriole. Photo by the author.

I hike and photograph birds and other wildlife five or more days each week. This morning I took several hikes in Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge in western Wisconsin. The refuge, located on the east bank of the Mississippi River, is a birding hotspot. That’s because of its location along the Mississippi Flyway bird migration route.

After I had photographed a green heron, a Baltimore oriole, a great crested flycatcher, and many other birds, I felt good about today’s trip. It was time to go home. But it was a cool and beautiful spring morning on the Memorial Day holiday weekend…

Randy Runtsch

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