All posts by richardhoeg@gmail.com

Crisp Point Lighthouse Keeper

Although the primary focus of my camera may be birds, as an outdoorsman I love varied experiences which provide me the opportunity to enjoy nature’s beauty. Today as I find my planned bike touring rained out by Hurricane Nate, I am looking forward to Molly and my upcoming service as lighthouse keepers on a remote Lake Superior shore. In eight days we will find ourselves at Crisp Point Lighthouse , which is fifteen miles shy of Whitefish Point near the eastern end of Lake Superior.

Our duties are not difficult. During the day we greet guests, serve as impromptu tour guides, provide security for the site, perform housekeeping chores, and run the small gift shop. Unlike many lighthouses, there is no keeper’s residence. However, far from being a negative, having one’s own private campsite 20 miles from the nearest building of any kind is fantastic!

From a photography vantage point hanging out at a lighthouse is great. Having the combination of the largest lake in the world, Gitchi Gumi, and a lighthouse only 10 yards from the water makes for a great photo subject. My image taken last Fall and shown below is now used by the United States Lighthouses web site as the featured photo for Crisp Point. In total we will serve as keepers for just under a week, but as there is no connectivity of any kind … posts about the experience will have to wait till our return to civilization.

One final note … the Edmund Fitzgerald sank seven miles off Crisp Point … as noted in the lyrics of the song by Gordon Lightfoot.

The searches all say they’d have made Whitefish Bay
If they’d put fifteen more miles behind her

Peregrine Falcon on the Lake Superior Shore!

I could have also titled this post: 500 Pics + 2 Videos + 1 Dawn Bike Ride = 1 Peregrine Falcon! In short, it was a fantastic time ten minutes after sunrise yesterday. While cycling along Scenic 61 at dawn I first heard a hawk’s fierce killing call, followed by a flash of movement in the corner of my field of view. I decided to get off my bicycle to investigate, and quickly found a peregrine falcon finishing up a morning song bird snack!

I was able to scramble down the steep bank to the shoreline rocks where I slowly inched my way towards the peregrine. As my angle to the bird put me directly in the morning’s low direct sun, I must have been invisible. Stopping only 20 yards away from the falcon I enjoyed watching the raptor as I clicked away with my camera. Realizing this might be a once in a lifetime experience, I tried to perfectly time the crashing waves on the rocks with the peregrine falcon in the foreground. To state it mildly, this was not your typical shorebird!

Upon getting home I chuckled to myself when I discovered I had taken 500 photographs and 2 vidoes. Isn’t burst mode a beautiful thing?! Here is one of my favorite images and a video. This experience just reinforces my next previous post … Birding by Bicycle .

Birding by Bicycle: Horned Lark!

Yesterday I added a new trusty mount to my herd, a mountain bike. This new bicycle will not often be used for trail riding. Instead I plan on biking the numerous remote wilderness logging roads found throughout northeastern Minnesota. Although I can reach all of these areas via my Subaru Outback and then hike, the bike allows me to quietly cover much more territory while getting some nice exercise.

This is my second bike which may now equipped for bicycle birding. My road touring bike, aside from taking me all over North America with Molly on self-supported bike tours, doubles as a birding road bicycle.

My biking kit is pretty basic but includes:

  • front handlebar bag capable my Canon SX-60 super zoom bridge camera
  • tire change kit
  • phone and wallet
  • light cycling jacket

In addition, I always have my monopod attached to the bike. When you are in the middle of a 20 mile ride, upon getting off one’s bicycle because of heavy breathing (remember, this is exercise) it is hard to hold a “zoomed camera” very steady. Try giving birding by bicycle a try! (see prior post with a similar them … shows closeup of my equipment)

The Horned Lark I photographed this morning

Birding Bicycle #1: Mountain Bike used for riding dirt logging roads. I also used this bike to explore some remote lakes. Six hours later I would return by car to photograph the Northern Lights display! (good to see areas in the daytime first)

Birding Bicycle #2: Touring Bike used for riding paved roads