Wildflower bonanza

One-flowered Pyrola - or - One-flowered Wintergreen

One-flowered Pyrola - or - One-flowered Wintergreen

1-flowered Pyrola

1-flowered Pyrola

Pipsissewa

Pipsissewa

Pipsissewa

Pipsissewa

Round-leaved Sundew

Round-leaved Sundew

And the bonus of the day: Sundew! It’s the weird plant right in front of the pitcher plant. And like the Pitcher Plant, the Sundew is a “carnivorous plant”. It traps insects in the sticky sundew on the hairs of its leaves.
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Back to the Bog

Astrid Lake Bog Trail

Astrid Lake Bog Trail

If you go, make sure to wear your “Swampers”. After the 4+ inches of rain that we received July 3rd, the trail was flooded. In some places I was afraid the water would come over the top of my boots. I had on my trusty LL Bean WELLIES and they kept my feet dry. It was a rather warm day in the woods and the ankle-deep water felt nice and cool. And believe it or not, there really weren’t any bugs out, I never had to apply bug repellent.

Winter Wren

Winter Wren

Right away, I ran into a family of Winter Wrens!
Winter Wren Fledgling

Winter Wren Fledgling

This is the best time to see these elusive little Wrens, when the babies are first out of the nest and are being fed by their parents. The little trills and peeps that were going on between the family group was fascinating. It was truly a treat to watch the parents come in and feed their babies.
This little guy was pretty smart already. When I first saw the young birds I stopped and set up my camera, well, they knew I was there and stayed down in the brush where I only got glimpses.
Then I moved a few feet down the trail and hid behind a small tree.
Winter Wren juvenile

Winter Wren juvenile

Mind you, I was standing in water when I was viewing this bird!
Winter Wren fledgling

Winter Wren fledgling

But what a great place to hide your babies while they grow up. The bog was mostly knee deep water, what mammal would go in there to predate these birds? And the thick brush and vegetation provides lots of hiding spots for any bird predator. Only humans with rubber boots are that crazy!
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Baby birds everywhere!

Black & White Warbler fledgling

Black & White Warbler fledgling

I managed to capture a photo of this little Black & White Warbler baby. He was making a constant peeping that I didn’t recognize but knew had to be a baby bird begging. I watched the trees and found the adult bird foraging in the branches. When she had gathered enough bugs she went to feed the baby. Boy, did the baby bird make some weird noises then!

This is the time of year when there are lots of baby birds out and about. It seems like when they are straight out of the nest they’re still naive and ignorant of the dangerous world out there. The babies will show themselves and make lots of noise until they’re old enought to learn to be quiet. It’s a fun time, but short lived, the young birds learn quickly.

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Best year ever for Blueberries

Blueberries

Blueberries

The Blueberry crop is PROLIFIC this year! The berries are huge and plentiful and they’re at their peak right now. Check it out!

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Juneberries are peaking

Juneberries

Juneberries

The Juneberries, also known as Serviceberries, are at their peak right now. The Juneberry shrub can reach heights of 20 feet and are a favorite berry for birds. We can eat them too and they taste somewhat like Blueberries, although they are very seedy. I’ve never heard of anyone making anything out of Juneberries like jam or pie, they’re best eaten right off the bush. Maybe it’s because Blueberries are ripe at the same time and they are definitely superior!

Purple Finch and Serviceberries

Purple Finch and Serviceberries

The Purple Finches have been busy gorging themselves on the berries. They’re bringing their babies in and feeding them. Other birds like Cedar Waxwings and Evening Grosbeaks pig out on the berries too!

Chipmunk

Chipmunk

Even the Chipmunk was up in the tree having a feast!

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Herring Gull Nests

Herring Gull on nest

Herring Gull on nest

Herring Gulls

Herring Gulls

I can’t wait to see the babies!

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Mystery solved

Thank you John Latimer and http://kaxe.org/ Phenology show! I just figured out that this plant is TUFTED LOOSESTRIFE.

Tufted Loosestrife

Tufted Loosestrife

The Tufted Loosestrife is not related to the invasive exotic Purple Loosestrife.

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Another great start

Common Merganser

Common Merganser

It was going to be a good walk as indicated by this Merganser who refused to get off the beach. I was able to get very close to the bird.
Common Merganser with chicks

Common Merganser with chicks

I counted 12 chicks with this Merganser. The young birds like to ride up on their mother’s back, just like Loons. All the chicks won’t fit, but sometimes several chicks can find a free ride like these guys.
Broad-winged Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk

The Broad-winged Hawk must have a nest in the vicinity again this year. Two Hawks were calling to each other and probably warning their chicks that there was danger in the area. They followed me as I walked through the clearing into the woods. I tried to find a nest, but sometimes that can be difficult as the chicks will freeze in the nest so finding any kind of movement is impossible. Their flimsy nest is usually well hidden, and the adults won’t go to the nest while they can see you.
Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager

The bonus bird this day was a beautiful male SCARLET TANAGER!
Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager

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Serendipity

I’ve been using the word, serendipity, a lot lately. It’s such a fun word and it means ‘finding something that is meaningful to you by sheer accident or luck’.

Sometimes a walk in the woods will bring a surprise, like finding a bird that you didn’t expect and that makes you very happy. The other day that happened to me. I was on the Nelson Trail,back by the beaver pond in the Jack Pines, where I saw a Warbler foraging for food. It looked funny and unfamiliar and when I got it in the bins I realized it was  a Palm Warbler.

Now it seems like when I’m birding for Wood-Warblers, I listen for their song first and then seek out the bird. This bird occured just the opposite, I saw the bird first, and then I wondered what the song sounded like. I played the song on the iPod and then I could hear the bird singing that song! It was unexpected for me and a good find.

Seeing this bird in June indicates it could be a “breeding” bird and thats a good thing for us as we are located at the southern edge of their breeding range. I managed to get one poor photo of the bird.

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

The word “serendipity” originated in 1754 and it came about because of a fairy tale entitled “The Three Princes of Serendip”. Serendip is the Arabic name of Sri Lanka which is an island republic in the Indian Ocean. Evidently, the heroes in the tale are very lucky and accidently find a fortune.
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Detour to Greaney

A couple of weekends ago, I headed over to Greaney, MN on my way to Nashwauk for a family get together. Greaney is located 9 miles west of Hwy 53 on Willow River Road, just south of Orr. I love taking the backroads that criss cross western St Louis County. I was acting on a lead that I had gotten from Tammy about Magpies. And I was not disappointed!

Black-billed Magpie

Black-billed Magpie

The minute I pulled up to Vi’s Store, there was a Magpie!
Magpie

Magpie

They were foraging in the grass – walking along and scaring up bugs – which promptly got eaten!
Black-billed Magpie

Black-billed Magpie

Then they flew up and crossed the road where they had a couple of young birds hidden in the bushes. The vocalizations the birds were making was very entertaining!
Magpies

Magpies

I counted 9 Magpies at this location.
Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

The habitat in western St Louis County is quite different than the Boreal forest that is closer to Crane Lake. Out in Greaney it’s almost prairie like. There are wet meadows mixed in with lowland Black Spruce bogs and also there is agricultural land that’s been cleared and mowed. There were lots of Clay-colored Sparrows, Sedge Wrens and Savannah Sparrows. I need to spend a lot more time out in that area, it could hold some real rarities like Le Conte’s Sparrow and Upland Sandpipers. Until next time…
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