Tag Archives: Pagami Creek Forest Fire Region

Pagami Creek Forest Fire Region American Woodcock

I drove up to the Pagami Creek forest fire region (NW of Isabella, Minnesota) arriving at the start of Tomahawk Road at 6:30 am this morning. My first comment if you want to bird the area is bring bug repellent. Warm weather has finally arrived up near the Canadian border and with it … lots of black flies and mosquitoes!
 
While I did not see any Black Backed Woodpeckers even with an hour’s extensive hiking and listening near the Isabella Lake BWCA Entry Point parking area, there were a huge number of Wilson Snipes and Yellowthroats calling out.
 
On the way back to Mn Hwy #1, I stopped many times and took short hikes, but still no Black Backed Woodpeckers, or Spruce Grouse. However, what I did see quite a few of were American Woodcock. Between 9 am and 10 am woodcocks were often seen slowly crossing the road.
 
The easiest woodcock location to find is 1/2 mile past the Kelley Loop when you reach the first “Planted in 1946” sign. Slow down way down and over the nest 2/10 of a mile look for rocks which occasionally move … the best way I can describe spotting a woodcock. I found the same bird multiple times, and I suspect it has a nest in that vicinity. I paid a high price in blood for my American Woodcock image. The bugs found me as I stood motionless to take my photographs.
American Woodcock

Turkey Vulture (bald can be beautiful!)

Sunday Night at the Movies: Forest Fires & Foxes!

Before the days of YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime, the network TV stations often had a show named Sunday Night at the Movies! The idea was the network would pick a popular movie and all us Americans would watch same.

Tonight, I bring the 365 Days of Birds Sunday Night at the Movies … In fact … even like when you attend a flick at any good theater I am providing you with a great animated short prior to the main feature! Long time readers of my blog know I love chasing and photographing the Northern Lights. Thus, I was thrilled to finally discover this week what actually causes the Aurora … an Arctic Fox painting the lights with its tail!

Yours truly watching a simultaneous Aurora and sunrise this summer near the Canadian Border in northern Minnesota.
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And now for our main feature … many of us bird the Pagami Creek Forest Fire region northwest of Isabella (Tomahawk Rd). A few days ago I discovered this video on YouTube; . it is training for US Forest Service rangers. In the video six rangers who were in the BWCA at the time of the fire were working to warn and evacuate people. However, the fire expanded dramatically and quickly; they were themselves overrun by the fire and only saved themselves by deploying fire shelters in the middle of Insula Lake. The video is 35 minutes long, but I found it interesting to hear first hand accounts about what it’s like to have a wildfire catch up to you, and overrun your position. I am actually going up there tomorrow morning with a friend. There will be lots of snow on the ground!

Boreal Forest Birding at 5F

Deer hunting season ended yesterday! With the hunters out of the woods I drive north into the Pagami Creek Forest Fire Region. I had wanted to visit this wilderness area before snow made the 18 mile logging road impassable. Upon arriving at Tomahawk Road I was pleased to discover the hunters had driven the road post blizzard and packed down enough snow that my Subaru Outback could venture into the deep forest. Arriving at sunrise I was presented with a Winter Wonderland. The storm from a few days ago had plastered the pines with ice and snow. Even though it was cold this morning (5F), there was not an ounce of wind. The scene a beautiful. Thus began a few hours of exploring this remote wilderness.

On the way home as the temperature climbed into the 20’s I discovered hundreds of Pine Grosbeaks alighting on Lake County Hwy #2 to find gravel for their gizzards. Thankfully, this road receives very little traffic and I was able to take a few photographs. One of my favorite birding locations is the abandoned railroad a few miles south of Greenwood Lake. This location did not disappoint with many birds including Canada’s new nation bird, the Grey Jay … also known as the Canada Jay. It beat out the Common Loon and Canada Goose. The jay was considered the underdog, or should I say underbird.

Here are a few of the Pine Grosbeak images from this morning

A Failure to Communicate!
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Gravel Getting
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Airborne!
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My Subaru and another view off Tomahawk Road (10 years older than me!)
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Dawn Reflections
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Canada’s New National Bird … the Grey Jay!
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Lynx, Martens & Bears … Oh My!

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)
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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.
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Spruce Grouse on Tomahawk Road
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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.
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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.