Smattering of Fall Color

hiking in fall

hiking in fall

Fall colors are just starting…

Moose Maple

Moose Maple

 

Fall in Crane Lake

Fall in Crane Lake

 

Fall in love with Crane Lake

Fall in love with Crane Lake

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Celebrating Wildflowers

We’re a little past the wildflower season, but here’s a great resource from the US Forest Service, go to their website at:

http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/

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Astrid Lake Trail passable again

Astrid Lake Hiking Trail

Astrid Lake Hiking Trail

My favorite trail, the Astrid Lake Hiking Trail that runs south from Lake Jeanette, is back in commission. Earlier this summer the trail was completely flooded and the only way to get in to the bog was to wear knee-high boots. Now the water has gone down and there’s only one little spot where the water is standing. Just a good pair of hiking boots is all you should need now. Also, where there was a tangle of trees that had fallen on the trail, that has been cleaned up. It’s such a great trail through some good habitat that it shouldn’t be missed.

I found some nice fall Warblers back in the woods.

Magnolia Warbler in winter plumage

Magnolia Warbler in winter plumage

Like this nice “fall” Magnolia Warbler. There’s been a lot of Maggies around this fall. One distinctive feature about the Magnolia Warbler, that is apparent all year long, is the white pattern in their tail.

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

The white on the tail feathers goes about halfway down the tail, then the tips are dark, it’s easy to see when you are looking up at the bird.

Magnolia Warbler showing tail pattern

Magnolia Warbler showing tail pattern

I apologize for the blurry picture, but it shows how the white jumps out at you when the bird takes flight.

Gray Jay

Gray Jay

Every so often in the quiet of the woods, I would hear something strange calling. It didn’t dawn on me until I heard the characteristic clacking that a Gray Jay makes that I figured out what it was. I guess the old saying is right, that if you hear something weird in the woods it’s probably a Gray Jay.

A family group of Jays followed me as I walked the trail back to the car.

Gray Jay

Gray Jay

They were foraging on the trunks of the Black Spruce and Tamaracks in the bog. They were finding stuff under the bark, which must have been insect larvae.

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Trip to Sioux Falls

Little Indian Sioux River

Little Indian Sioux River

Not Sioux Falls South Dakota, but a daytrip via canoe up the Little Indian Sioux River. I say “up” because the river flows north and by travelling south we were going upstream. This part of the river is lined with bog on either side.

Kestrel

Kestrel

I was surprised to see an American Kestrel in this bog, I’m used to seeing them out in the open country.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

He took flight when we got too close, but you can see the beautiful russet color of his tail. In Minnesota, the Kestrel is our smallest Falcon, and the most colorful.
Merlin

Merlin

Around the next bend, we ran into a Merlin. This little Falcon is just barely bigger than the Kestrel, and not so colorful. It was an opportunity to contemplate the flight styles of the two Falcons. The Kestrel really has kind of a sloppy flight compared to the Merlin. The Merlin seems to fly like a little jetfighter and is much faster than a Kestrel.
Little Indian Sioux Falls

Little Indian Sioux Falls

After an easy 5 mile paddle, we saw the falls.
Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls

The falls drop about 12 feet and there’s an easy 8 rod portage around the falls to the river above. We didn’t take the portage, but paused at the site for a little fishing and some lunch.
fishing Sioux Falls

fishing Sioux Falls

It was a beautiful, sunny day with very little wind.
Indian Sioux River

Indian Sioux River

We weren’t the only ones out enjoying the nice day, we met this family taking advantage of some great weather. This is a very easy day trip.
Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked Duck

On the river was a little family of 3 Ring-necked Ducks. It looked like two of the ducks couldn’t fly yet, which seems rather late in the season. The mother Duck kept trying to distract us by flying low over the surface of the water and landing just a short distance away.
Ring-necked Duck taking off

Ring-necked Duck taking off

The other two Ducks would dive under the water and hide by the shore.
Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked Duck

She would eventually completely take flight and circle back over the bog to the previous spot where her young ones were. We saw this Duck family on the way up the river and then back down.
Because this river runs into the BWCAW, you do need a day use permit. The permits are available at the landing parking lot. You’ll need to get an overnight permit if you are going to camp and those are available at the ranger station in Cook, or at Anderson Outfitters in Crane Lake. This river will eventually get you to some bigger lakes in the southern portion of the BWCAW; it is not an easy route and it has many long portages. But because of the difficulty, it may be just the type of seclusion that some people seek out.
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Puffballs

Puffball mushroom

Puffball mushroom

The Puffball Mushrooms have started coming out. It looks like it’s going to be a prolific year for Puffballs.

Puffball

Puffball

Puffballs get their name from the way they release their spores. When you find one that is past its’ prime, push on the top of the mushroom and a puff of spores will come out, it looks a little like a puff of smoke. It’s really pretty neat!

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Random Summer Shots from Voyageurs National Park

Beach on Sandpoint Lake

Beach on Sandpoint Lake

Namakan Lake campsite

Namakan Lake campsite

 

Rock Sculpture

Rock Sculpture

 

Red Water

Red Water

 

Crane Lake Sunset

Crane Lake Sunset

Red sky at night, a sailor’s delight; red sky at morn, sailors take warn…

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Ovenbird

Ovenbird

Ovenbird

One bird that is difficult to find and see is the Ovenbird. In the summer their song can be heard from the depths of the woods as they sing their distinctive “teacher, teacher, TEACHER song. Most times only their singing will be heard and the bird won’t come out of hiding. They are definite skulkers creeping around on the forest floor and rarely going up in the trees.

indignant Ovenbird

indignant Ovenbird

But sometimes in the fall, they’ll be a little more bold, and perhaps even come out for some photographs. This bird was attracted to the sound of the shutter on my camera. And they are one of the Warblers that don’t molt into a basic (winter) plumage.

Ovenbird

Ovenbird

Here the Ovenbird has struck a classic Warbler pose as he peers under the leaves for insects. You can see the orange stripe that is on top of the Ovenbird’s head.

 

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In search of Ross’ Light

Ross Light

Ross' Light

There is a certain time, in the morning and in the evening, when the light from the sun is just right for photography. Famous naturalist and writer Sigurd Olson referred to it as Ross’ Light. I can’t remember how the name came about, but I remember the concept.

View on Crane Lake

View on Crane Lake

The sunlight at these times, when the sun is closer to the horizon, bends the sunbeams and baths the surrounding landscape in a warm light. It can make photos look surreal.

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Merlin casts pellet

Merlin Falcon

Merlin Falcon

Early this morning a Merlin showed up in the yard. I thought the Merlin was eating something when I was photographing her, but after I downloaded the photos, I saw what looked like a “pellet” in the Merlin’s mouth. I think the Merlin might be a female or an immature as the male has a slate blue back and this bird was quite brown.

Merlin coughing up a pellet

Merlin coughing up a pellet

She looked like she was choking…

Merlin expelling pellet

Merlin expelling pellet

 Then, the pellet came flying through the air! 

Per Birds of North America On Line, pellets typically cast daily (early morning) representing feather and skeletal remains from previous day.

Merlin Falcon

Merlin Falcon

I imagine she feels a lot better after expelling that big hunk of waste from her crop.

Merlin

Merlin

Okay, now onto the next bird, and with that she took off after one of the Hairy Woodpeckers that frequent the peanut feeders in the yard.

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Sunset cruise on Crane Lake

Point on Crane Lake

Point on Crane Lake

Glacial Erratic

Glacial Erratic

A boulder left behind by the glaciers, a mere 10,000 years ago. There was a musical band in Grand Rapids named the Glacial Erratics – that’s a pretty good name.

Fragant Fern

Fragant Fern

A beautiful little woodland plant that stays green all winter long…

Crane Lake Sunset

Crane Lake Sunset

A beautiful ending to another perfect day on Crane Lake.

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