Summer starts tomorrow, but don’t tell the birds at the mouth of the Lester River on Lake Superior. While this birding location is definitely not a hotspot during the winter, come late spring and summer this is a great little spot … and only 1/2 mile from my House!
Given the time of year, I knew merganser chicks should have hatched. However, between Grandma’s Marathon last Saturday (lots of people), and ugly weather since … I knew a trip to the river mouth did not make much sense. However, this morning was sunny and calm … in short a great day for any Common Merganser mom worth her webbed feet to sun the little guys at the mouth of the river. Within seconds of arriving at the river I hit the jackpot. Using some butt scooting and crawling, the duck family let me get within 15 yards, and never spooked. It was a great morning.
The Common Merganser family of Lester River
Ten minutes later … wolfpack on the loose!
Belted Kingfisher gets in on the fishing
This Ring-Billed Gull wanted in on the action
Meanwhile … a hundred yards upstream … aerial combat was joined five seconds after I took this photograph. Four Blue Jays attacked a Merlin’s nest. The jays wanted eggs for breakfast. Three minutes of aerobatics ensued as the Merlins defended their turf.
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.
Merlin Hunting for Breakfast (mouth of Lester River on Lake Superior)
Mom Always Liked You Best! (Trumpeter Swan family at MacQuarrie Wetlands)
My Cover Appears to be Blown!
Snapping Turtle Laying Down Eggs
Calling Out for a Mate (Wilson’s Snipe at the Roy Johnson Wetlands)
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.