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!
Park Point Playing Fields Marbled Godwit and Dunlins
Back on the Home Front … Amity Creek Eastern Towhee, Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks, American Tree Sparrow, White-Throated Sparrow and Blue Jays
At one point this afternoon, I had 40+ Blue Jays in the yard!
One of Many Merlins Tracking the Migration … Songbirds Beware!
Yup, just another day in northern Minnesota! Actually, even by my standards this is a pretty awesome day. A few minutes after sunrise found me on a remote wilderness road near the Canadian border in northern Minnesota. Appropriately enough, this road is named Tomahawk Road and it reaches 18 miles into the Superior National Forest northwest of Isabella, Minnesota (not to far south of the Canadian border).
Within the first mile I discovered a pine marten foraging for its breakfast. A few miles further down the road I had a fantastic find … a Canada Lynx … both animals are lifers for me. Here is a pic of the marten (no image of the lynx)
One of the reasons I like this region is it allows me access to the Pagami Creek Wildfire area. Now that we are about six years post fire, the forest is reblooming and teems with wildlife. When I reached my hiking destination near Isabella Lake, I became the subject of some curious Grey Jays. I think they were checking me out, rather than vice versa. I also enjoyed seeing some Spruce Grouse during my drive in to my trailhead.
Grey Jays … Duck, Duck, Grey Jay (oops, I mean duck!). Seriously these two birds poked and prodded each other … seemed to be playing! The second two “jay photos” show all the burned out white pine trees.
Spruce Grouse on Tomahawk Road
One I got home to Duluth, this spectacular day continued. See the photo I took of a snow bunting at the mouth of the Lester River. These birds which are now migrating down from the Arctic spook oh so easily; yet this individual struck the perfect post for me on the Lake Superior shore.
My day finished off with a HUGE black bear raiding my feeder. I watched from less than ten yards away as Mrs. Bear enjoyed my bird feeders.
Molly and I have been experiencing withdrawal symptoms from cycle touring since getting home from biking 850 miles in Scotland this past May. Thus, we convinced two friends to bike 125 miles over the past two days in Copper Country (Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan). Thanks to Jon and Beth for putting up with us!
The Upper Peninsula is remote. Quite frankly it is an area of the United States that 99% of Americans will never visit! This is exactly the reason it is perfect for cycling! In addition, we got extremely lucky and were just north of an extreme weather system that dumped 9 inches of rain in 24 hours just to our south. On our drive home to Duluth, we have to detour 100 extra miles to avoid road wash outs.
Upon arriving home I visited the mouth of the Lester River. My Kingfisher couple is getting ready to raise another brood. I assume the chicks will fledge in early August. In the meantime the Kingfishers are very busy fishing the mouth of the river up to the railroad bridge.
Molly and I dipping our back tires in an Upper Peninsula Lake
Lake Superior … a remote spot we found to rest for a few minutes
Cycling in Copper Country
Our Route over the past two days (Houghton – Copper Harbor – Houghton)
After four days away from home, I am happily back in northern Minnesota. Sun comes up at 5:15 am, and shortly after sunrise I visited the mouth of the Lester River in search of the Common Merganser family. The early morning sun makes for fantastic photography conditions, and also if one takes some care … allows one to get much closer to birds.
It took 15 minutes, but I eventually found my young family. If I had walked the shore towards the mergansers my visit would have been very short, but instead while still over 100 yards away from Momma Merganser I sat down on the rocks. Over the course of 15 minutes, directly in her line of sight with the sun, I inched forward “on my behind” towards the birds. Taking this amount of time, and never standing allowed me to get within 15 yards of the mergansers and watch them for almost twenty minutes. These photos are the result of that session, but the key point is … get low right at sunrise (don’t walk) and come at your desired subjects from right out of the sun. If you move slowly enough, it is amazing how close one may get to some types of wildlife.
Common Merganser Family at Sunrise ———-
Wild Tailed Deer Fawn ———-
Chestnut-Sided Warbler and Cedar Waxwing … the waxwing actually has Lake Superior in the background while the warbler is set off against the sky … interesting comparison of blue on a crystal clear day!