The final migration wave of birds from northern Canada are starting to reach Minnesota. During today’s dawn bicycle ride up the shore of Lake Superior I saw both a Snow Goose, and Pipits. Both birds are always late migrants into our area.
Yesterday Molly and I took a final boat ride on NorthStar Lake. This gem of a lake, where we have a small cabin, is 100 miles NW of Duluth. The Common Loons are now in their winter plumage and should head south any day now. The Bald Eagles appear to have kicked their youngster out of the nest. Winter will be hear soon in the North Country.
My Trusty Steed … this morning’s bike ride
A Snow Goose makes a rare visit to our area
Your type is not desired here!
A fall plumage Common Loon
This Bald Eagle couple have kicked their youngster out of the nest!
A Black Bellied Plover … still in breeding plumage (video taken two weeks ago)
Have been off the grid at my remote small Northwoods cabin. A few nights ago I walked down to the dock at midnight and took this photograph of the Milky Way over our cabin. I knew from a photography app I utilize that the core of the Milky Way would be in the proper position of the night sky. The app is named PlanIt! for Photographers which is available for only a few dollars both on Android and IOS. This app allows one to determine many important items which are helpful to photographers such as sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset, dark night period, dark sky regions and much, much more. I’ve included a screenshot of how I used PlanIt! for planning my Milky Way photo. Note how the app utilizes Google Maps and thus is location specific. In the Google Maps satellite view one may actually see my fishing boat!
The light in showing through the window is from two small night lights. My camera settings are ISO 3,200, Aperture 2.0 for a 25 second exposure.
Ah … summer in the Northwoods. Molly and I are spending quality time at our small Northstar Lake cabin. Our lake is far enough north that the small stream that empties from Northstar actually starts the water on its journey to Hudson’s Bay!
After dinner last night I asked my wife if she wanted to go birding with me. Normally the answer to this question is always “no”, but when birding actually meant “looning” I received an enthusiastic “yes” (read Molly’s account of looning). A short boat ride in our ancient smaller fishing boat (no ski boat for this guy) brought us within 100 yards of a pair of Loons and their chicks. Up here near the Minnesota Canadian border loon chicks have just hatched. I cut the engine and we started our slow drift towards the birds. Making certain never to stand up given a higher profile might disturb the loons, I worked our boat towards the loons using a canoe paddle. We stopped 25 yards away from the family, and thus began a delightful 1/2 hour with the Loons of Northstar Lake. Our slow approach had not frightened the loon family, and they proceeded with the evening fish and feed. At times the male loon, which was doing the hunting / fishing, would surface within a few yards of our boat. It would rest on the surface for 20 seconds and then dive again.
We could also hear the chicks and Mom softly communicating with one another. Every few minutes we would suddenly see air bubbles and a “V” wake working it’s way towards the Mom and chicks. The dad would then pop to the surface and deliver small minnows for the chick’s supper.
Twas truly a magic evening. We did not wish to overstay our welcome. Grabbing the canoe paddle I worked our way a bit more distant from the birds … started the outboard … and slowly started back to the cabin.
I hope you enjoy these photographs and videos of the Common Loon Family of Northstar Lake!
Friday morning I took a sunrise bicycle ride in the Suomi Hills region of northern Minnesota. Boy am I glad I convinced myself to get out of bed early (sunrise is 5:15 am). The wildflowers are blooming like crazy, and the birds added a nice touch! If you have the opportunity to drive Mn Hwy #48 in the next week, make certain you slow way down and look deep into the roadside ditches about 8 miles from Mn Hwy #38. You will see thousands on Showy Ladyslippers. These flowers were just starting to bloom on Friday. Every one of these flowers was photographed within a two mile stretch on Hwy #48 (and the ducks).
Suomi Hills Lutheran Church (and my bike)
Ring-Necked Duck and Wood Duck
Ring-Necked Duck and Blue-Winged Teal (a favorite perch, perhaps?!)
Thursday evening, a thunderstorm rocked our cabin on Northstar Lake, which cleared the skies for my sunrise bike ride the next morning.