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Northwoods of Minnesota

Posted on August 18, 2017
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In late June I was in Minnesota running our new trip for Natures Images. I had visited last year to recce the trip but you always worry slightly on new trips as you hope everything works out. It is not easy putting new trips together but it is something I personally love to do as it makes it exciting, not only for me but our guests too.  I had a very good helper on the ground though for this trip in Stan Tekiela who is a local of Minnesota and knows the state well. Our target for the first part of this trip was the Great Northern Diver or Common Loon.

Minnesota supports a good population of this beautiful Diver. The State is perfect for them with a lot of lakes set amongst these northern forests. Stan has many years of experience with working with them and so knows many locations to find them. We had timed our trip to coincide with the chicks having hatched as they are difficult to do when they are still incubating the eggs and they are very susceptible to disturbance. Last year when I went I was slightly later in the month and missed one the images that I really wanted to capture.

When the chicks are just a few days old they hitch a ride on one of their parents backs. They only do it for the first week or so of their lives as they get big quite quickly and so the parents don’t allow them to after they have reached a certain size. I think this is a wonderful bit of behaviour and so I was looking at timing the trip so we had a better chance of photographing it. It had been a warmer spring than usual and most of the birds had started the season earlier. Most of the chicks we came across were already too big and so although we were still getting nice opportunities I felt we might have missed it.

We then found a couple of pairs that still had a younger and smaller chick. We then concentrated with these pairs and so we started to get the chance to capture this unique behaviour.

The weather was really kind to us as well during the first part of this trip with cloudless skies and gentle wind, perfect for photographing water birds. We had a couple of glorious morning sunrises too and so made the most of these great conditions.

Each morning saw us rise at 4am which makes it hard work and long days but we needed to work this way to get the best light. We use a small boat to get close to the Divers and they show no fear of the boat as they are used to seeing small boats that fishermen use. It is great way to work and gives us great flexibility.

We also got the chance with other species too on our trip like Red-necked Grebes and Herons.

After our time with the Divers we then headed to northern Minnesota to photograph Black Bear. Black Bear are quite common in the States but they are difficult to find and photograph. In northern Minnesota there is a great location where you can get really close to them and so it offers some great opportunities to photograph them. You can get all ages of Bears and also females with young cubs.

This year there seemed to be a lot of females with young spring cubs which was great because they are so photogenic. One family in particular were very accommodating and we spent a lot of time with these as they were also very playful.

It is a great combination of the Divers and Black Bears for running a trip because you can get so many opportunities and so get a varied portfolio. It’s not only mothers and spring cubs you can also get chances to photograph the large males too.

So there you go a small selection from this great trip. Thanks Stan for putting the trip together for us and everything worked out really well. We are running the trip again next June and if you like travelling in the States then this is a great trip to capture two iconic American species. We still have a few places for this trip so hopefully you night be inspired by this selection of images. Drop us an email if you would like any more information.

Danny

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