Two days ago it was a red fox which snuck up on me while birding; yesterday a coyote checked me out, and today it was Merlins mating at dawn! One had to wonder what tomorrow in the Northwoods will hold!
The spring bird migration is finally now in progress along Lake Superior. Minnesota Point (Park Point) is a gauntlet of these fierce falcons which songbirds have to fly on their way north. These Merlins follow the migration north, feeding on the tired birds.
This couple may have decided to stay in Duluth this summer. The hike from Sky Harbor Airport out to the Superior Entry is beautiful walk, and you never know what wildlife will make itself known! I actually found these Merlins yesterday afternoon, and this morning before dawn I started my hike out to the same location in an attempt to get some “nice light” pics . Even I was surprised when I captured their mating on camera. When I arrived at the same deadwood snag this morning it was faith that made me point my camera skyward. Nary a Merlin was in sight, but I had “faith” that the falcons would reappear on their favorite snag.
Capturing this pair falcons actually involved lots of hard pre-work. For almost a week I had been visiting the end of Park Point wondering when the migration would really get started. A few days ago as songbirds started to appear, I started hiking out to the end of the point. My hikes helped me identify good habitat and eventually this pair of Merlins. Finally, this morning I had to drive down to the end of Park Point and start my walk before sunrise (6:15 am). Thus, I was in position when the sun came above the horizon and my pair of falcons decided to get amorous in the early morning light. (video of the female screaming may be found below)
Yesterday was an excellent day in addition my afternoon research hike on Minnesota Point. Dawn saw me north of Two Harbors on Rossini Road. Over the course of the winter I had driven this remote logging road a number of times. My inspection made me believe that when the deep snows melted, the habitat of wetlands, meadows and forest would yield good times. My research was rewarded when I found a coyote searching for breakfast rodents, a snowshoe hare, and lots of migrating ducks and songbirds.
Late morning saw me hiking along the Western Waterfront Trail on the St. Louis River in Duluth. Once again, prior research yielded good results with finding a Townsend Solitaire deep in the thicket of trees next to Kingsbury Creek. All in all, it has been a great few days in the forests of Northern Minnesota … these Tales from the Northwoods are true!