Blackburnian Warbler in fall
Yes, it’s true, according to the MN Ornithologists Union (MOU), the summer reporting season ends today, July 31st. Tomorrow is the first day of fall. Their seasonal calendar is for the birds. Fall migration is already swinging into action. Shorebirds start moving south in mid July. For most birds, the summer breeding season is over. Now they can leisurely move along with their new families and head for their wintering grounds.
Some Warblers, but not all of them, molt out of their breeding plumage and now sport their winter garb, which tends to be much more drab. The above Warbler was foraging in the trees out back and wouldn’t sit still long enough for a good shot. But, I believe it is a basic plumaged Blackburnian Warbler. You must look for other field marks in the fall, like leg color or wing bars.
Junction Bay Waterfalls
There’s a beautiful set of Waterfalls way down at the end of Junction Bay on Namakan Lake. They’re flowing very nicely right now with all the rain that we received back on July 3rd.
Johnson River Falls
The Johnson River flows into Namakan Lake at Junction Bay. Johnson River flows out of Little Johnson Lake and Johnson Lake. These two lakes are in the backcountry and can be reached by portage from Forest Road 203 (there’s actually 3 lakes when you include Spring Lake). You can use ATVs to portage a small boat into Johnson Lake – there’s no road. There are 7 Back country campsites on the 3 interconnected lakes. It’s wilderness-style camping without the wilderness permits and regulations.
Namakan Lake thunderstorm
On the way back from Junction Bay, we were being tailed by this enormous thunderstorm. The views out on the big lake can be spectacular!
Here’s a picture of the Pine Warbler I saw last week. There were still singing Pine Warblers at this late date in July. This was right before I saw the Bear Cub shoot out of the bushes on the trail in front of me as I was trying to sneak up on a tree full of adult Nashville Warblers feeding babies. I didn’t stick around to see if Mama Bear was in the area!
Northern Flicker family by Kris Hoyt
Thanks Kris and Dave for the awesome shots of the Flickers feeding their babies!
Northern Flickers by Dave Hoyt
They found this nest at Nelson’s Resort right behind 2nd Beach cabin. When the babies are at this stage, the nest hole can be easy to find – just listen for the begging calls of the baby woodpeckers – it can be quite noisy!
Flickers by Dave Hoyt
Thanks to Kristin B., from Indiana, for sending the photo of the nest that she found hidden among the Blueberry Bushes up on Lac La Croix. These tiny birds are perhaps only a day old, or maybe just hatched a few hours ago.
Nest hidden in Blueberry patch
We got out the book, Peterson Field Guide for Birds’ Nests
, to see if we could figure out what kind of bird made the nest. Kristin didn’t get a very good look at the adult bird when it flew off the nest, but there is an unhatched egg in the nest that could provide a clue.
Song Sparrow Nest ?
The egg is brown and speckled which makes it look like it might be from a Sparrow – both Song Sparrows and White-throated Sparrows nest on the ground up here. This nest was very close to the water’s edge, only about 10 feet away, so that makes me think Song Sparrow. Song Sparrows also have a second nesting and that’s probably what this is.
It appears that even the Gulls are enjoying the bountiful Blueberries this year!
There’s a baby hiding in this photo. Can you see it?
active Osprey nest
There the young bird just hopped up to see what’s going on. He’s pretty big, but not big enough to fly yet.
This is the 4th year that this nest site has been used. I’m not sure if it’s the same birds from year to year, but the first year they had a successful nesting followed by two years when the nest failed. I hope all goes well this year – I’ll be watching…
One-flowered Pyrola - or - One-flowered Wintergreen
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.
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.
Right away, I ran into a family of Winter Wrens!
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
Mind you, I was standing in water when I was viewing this bird!
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!