Although our weather can be highly variable … with temperature drops of 30 degrees when the wind shifts off Lake Superior, our local populace has been busy either raising families, or making preparations.
The weather is ugly! The route to Hudson Bay through Duluth is even worse!
Yup, the rains have come over the past few days, and the recreation fields at the end of Park Point have been turned into mud flats. The shore birds on their way up to Hudson’s Bay and points north love the food opportunities on these new mud flats to reload, rest and feed. There is one big problem for the shorebirds and all the song birds migration through the Duluth area … Merlins!
At one point this afternoon, I had 40+ Blue Jays in the yard!
Had a super time hiking this morning on the dikes of the MacQuarrie Wetlands near Wrenshall, Minnesota. My good friends, Mike Furtman, had keyed me in to this amazing habitat just outside of Duluth. Quite frankly, I was amazed to find these wetlands in the Namadji River watershed, only a couple miles off one of my bike routes (Military Road). If you know the Nemadji area, you understand rolling hills.
Although the Trumpeter Swans in the first photo may look peaceful and graceful, the situation is 100% different. I watched the lead swan get chased away by “many couples” from various wetland ponds shortly after sunrise this morning. The cob (male swan) was trying to “swipe someone else’s woman”, and in each case the bonds formed by the couples were strong and they jointly chased away the interloper ... trumpeting the entire time. It was noisy beautiful!
The ponds had only gone ice free a few days before, and the “early migrants” were not about to give up their prime nesting spots to late arrivals … let alone break up a perfectly good relationship.
Back to Minnesota … back to Winter, or is it Spring?
This morning I drove over to visit the Wisconsin State Hwy #13 grasslands near Cloverland and the Roy Johnson Mitigation Wetlands. Given none of the lakes or area ponds are ice free, and the fact that one could still find snow in the deep reaches of the forests, I had low expectations. I was pleasantly surprised to find an area that was thinking Spring might be around the corner.
Canada Geese and Trumpeter Swans were finding minuscule openings of water to stage, and a few early migrants … mainly red-winged blackbirds, robins and American Kestrels were present in reasonable numbers. Early arrivals of other grassland birds were not yet present.
Still lingering in the area were Rough-Legged Hawks like the one pictured below as it waited for more favorable weather and southerly winds to push northward. When I return home I found a few Goldfinches starting to wear their summer plumage.