Forest Happenings

Dancing Earthworms

Dancing Earthworms

This mushroom only comes out in the Fall. I didn’t find any last year, but I did blog about it back in 2008 at http://visitcranelake.com/blog/?p=330 I think it might be Purple Club Coral.

Purple Club Coral

Purple Club Coral

Earlier in the summer I did find a white version of the Club Coral.

White Club Coral

White Club Coral

White Club Coral

White Club Coral

Muskeg

Muskeg

The Nelson’s Trail overlooks a beaver pond and a portion of the pond is bordered with Muskeg swamp. In the Fall, the swamp takes on a colorful glow.

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Fall Colors are Peaking

Fall Colors on Moss

Fall Colors on Moss

 

Fall Color at Crane Lake

Fall Color at Crane Lake

 

Fall is colortime

Fall is colortime

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Winter Finch Forecast

Every year about this time, the Winter Finch Forecast is published on the Ontario list serve. The forecast can also apply to northern Minnesota. Around Crane Lake, it looks like the White Spruce are putting on quite a few cones and some White Pine are heavily laden with cones. That should bode well with some of the finches. I haven’t noticed if the Ash trees are putting out much for seed, but that is a favorite food of Pine Grosbeaks when they first arrive in Minnesota. Pine Grosbeaks can start moving into the area as soon as mid-October.

from Ron Pittaway
Ontario Field Ornithologists

WINTER FINCH FORECAST 2010-2011

This winter’s theme is that some finch species will irrupt into southern Canada and the northern United States, while other species will remain in the north. As an example, Common and Hoary Redpolls will move south whereas Pine Grosbeaks will stay in the north. See individual finch forecasts below for details. Three irruptive non-finch passerines are also discussed.

KEY FINCH TREE CROPS
Key trees in the boreal forest affecting finch abundance and movements are white and black spruces, white birch, and mountain-ashes. South of the boreal in the mixed coniferous/deciduous forest region, white pine and hemlock are additional key finch trees. Other trees play a lesser role, but often boost or buffer main seed sources. These include tamarack (American larch), balsam fir, white cedar, yellow birch and alders.

SPRUCE: White spruce cone crops are very good to excellent across the northern half of the boreal forest in Canada, except Newfoundland where crops are poor. However, spruce crops are much lower in the southern half of the boreal forest and poor in the mixed forest region of central Ontario such as Algonquin Park. The spruce crop is good to very good in central and northern Quebec, but generally poor in Atlantic Canada and northeastern United States. Spruce cone abundance is very good in the foothills of Alberta and eastern side of the Rocky Mountains in Canada, but poor in the southern half of British Columbia and in Washington State. A bumper white spruce cone crop in southern Yukon attracted high numbers of White-winged Crossbills and Pine Siskins this past summer and they may remain there through the winter. Spruce crops are generally poor in the Atlantic Provinces, New York State and New England States. WHITE PINE: Cone crop is spotty with scattered good to excellent crops across Ontario. White pine crops are low in Atlantic Canada, New York and New England States. HEMLOCK: Cone crop is poor in Ontario and elsewhere in the East. WHITE BIRCH: Crop is poor across the boreal forest of Canada and in central Ontario, but birch crops are much better in southern Ontario south of the Canadian (Precambrian) Shield.
MOUNTAIN-ASH: Berry crops are generally excellent across Canada and Alaska, but poor in Newfoundland.

INDIVIDUAL FINCH FORECASTS
Forecasts apply mainly to Ontario, but neighboring provinces and states may find they apply to them.

PINE GROSBEAK: The Pine Grosbeak breeds in moist open habitats across northern Ontario. It is most common in northeastern Ontario which receives more precipitation than northwestern Ontario (Peck and Coady in Atlas of Breeding Birds of Ontario 2007). Most Pine Grosbeaks should stay in the north this winter because the mountain-ash berry crop is generally excellent across the boreal forest of Canada and Alaska, except for a poor crop in Newfoundland. The feeders at the Visitor
Centre in Algonquin Park usually attract Pine Grosbeaks even in non-flight winters. If Pine Grosbeaks wander into southern Ontario they will find good crops of European mountain-ash berries and ornamental crabapples.

PURPLE FINCH: This finch winters in the north when the majority of deciduous and coniferous seed crops are abundant, which is not the case this year. Most Purple Finches will migrate south of Ontario this fall. A few may frequent feeders in southern Ontario. Purple Finch numbers have declined significantly in recent decades due in part to a decrease of spruce budworm outbreaks since the 1980s (Leckie and Cadman in Atlas of Breeding Birds of Ontario 2007).

RED CROSSBILL: This crossbill comprises at least 10 “call types” in North America. Each type has its particular cone preferences related to bill size and shape. These crossbill types may be at an early stage of evolving into full species and some may already qualify for species status. They are exceedingly difficult to identify in the field and much remains to be learned about their status and distribution. Types 2 and 3 and probably 4 occur regularly in Ontario (Simard in Atlas of Breeding Birds of Ontario 2007). Most Red Crossbill types prefer pines, but the smallest-billed Type 3 (sitkensis subspecies of AOU Check-list 1957) prefers the small soft cones of hemlock in Ontario. It will be absent this winter because hemlock crops are poor. Type 2 may be the most frequently encountered Red Crossbill in the province. Some Type 2s
should be found this winter where white pine crops are very good such as northeastern Algonquin Park and along Highway 69 north of the French River in Sudbury District. Possible this winter are other Red Crossbill types associated with red pine, which has some locally good crops.

WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL: High numbers of White-winged Crossbills are currently concentrated in southern Yukon where the white spruce cone crop is bumper. These may remain there this winter. This crossbill’s highest breeding abundance in Ontario is in the spruce dominated Hudson Bay Lowlands and adjacent northern Canadian Shield (Coady in Atlas of Breeding Birds of Ontario 2007). Most Ontario reports this past summer came from this area where the white spruce cone crop is heavy. Some were singing and presumably nesting. They might remain in northern Ontario this winter if seed supplies last. Some may disperse southward as spruce
seeds run low and could appear in southern Ontario and northern United States. However, they will be rare or absent this winter in traditional areas such as Algonquin Park where spruce and hemlock cone crops are very poor. Unlike the Red Crossbill, the White-winged Crossbill has no subspecies (monotypic) or call types in North America. Its nomadic wanderings across the boreal forest mix the populations and allow gene flow, which inhibits geographical variation and the formation of
subspecies.

COMMON REDPOLL: Redpolls should irrupt into southern Canada and the northern United States this winter. The Common Redpoll’s breeding range in Ontario is mainly in the Hudson Bay Lowlands from the Manitoba border southeast to southern James Bay (Leckie and Pittaway in Atlas of Breeding Birds of Ontario 2007). Redpolls in winter are a birch seed specialist and movements are linked in part to the size of the birch crop. The white birch crop is poor across much of northern Canada.
Another indicator of an upcoming irruption was a good redpoll breeding season in 2010 with double and possibly triple broods reported in Quebec. High breeding success also was reported in Yukon. Samuel Denault of McGill University has shown that redpoll movements at Tadoussac, Quebec, are more related to reproductive success than to tree seed crops in the boreal forest. Redpolls will be attracted to the good birch seed crops on native white birch and European white birch in southern Ontario and to weedy fields. They should be frequent this winter at feeders offering nyger and black oil sunflower seeds. Watch for the larger, darker and browner “Greater” Common Redpolls (rostrata subspecies) in the flocks. It is reliably identified by its larger size and proportionally longer thicker bill and longer tail in direct comparison with “Southern” Common Redpolls (nominate flammea subspecies).

HOARY REDPOLL: The breeding population in northern Ontario is the most southerly in the world (Leckie and Pittaway in Atlas of Breeding Birds of Ontario 2007). Careful checking of redpoll flocks should produce a few Hoary Redpolls. There are two subspecies. Most Hoaries seen in southern Canada and northern United States are “Southern” Hoary Redpolls (exilipes subspecies). During the last large redpoll irruption in 2007/2008, several “Hornemann’s” Hoary Redpolls (nominate hornemanni
subspecies) were found and supported by photographs. Hornemann’s Redpoll was previously regarded as a great rarity south of the Arctic, but it may be more frequent than formerly believed. Hornemann’s is most reliably identified by its much larger size in direct comparison with flammea Common Redpolls or exilipes Hoary Redpoll. Note that white birds loom larger than life among darker birds and size illusions are possible.

PINE SISKIN: Similar to the White-winged Crossbill, there are currently high numbers of siskins in southern Yukon attracted to a bumper white spruce cone crop. They could stay in Yukon for the winter. Siskins show a tendency for north-south migration, but are better considered an opportunistic nomad (Pittaway in Atlas of Breeding Birds of Ontario 2007). Banding recoveries show that siskins wander from coast to coast searching for conifer seed crops. They were uncommon this past summer in
Ontario and the Northeast. Some might winter in northern Ontario where the white spruce crop is heavy. However, siskins are currently uncommon in the Northeast so there are potentially only very small numbers that could irrupt south in eastern North America.

EVENING GROSBEAK: Highest breeding densities in Ontario are found in areas with spruce budworm outbreaks. Current breeding and wintering populations are now much lower than a few decades ago mainly because large spruce budworm outbreaks have subsided since the 1980s (Hoar in Atlas of Breeding Birds of Ontario 2007). If some come south this winter, they will find large crops of Manitoba maple (boxelder) seeds and plenty of black oil sunflower seeds at feeders waiting for them.

THREE MORE IRRUPTIVE PASSERINES

BLUE JAY: This will be an average flight year with smaller numbers than in 2009 along the north shorelines of Lakes Ontario and Erie. Beechnut crops are poor to none. Acorn crops are spotty, but considerably better than last year. More Blue Jays will winter in Ontario than last winter due to caches of acorns and other mast crops.

RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH: This nuthatch is a conifer seed specialist when it winters in the north, thus its movements are triggered by the same crops as the boreal winter finches. The southward movement, which began in the summer, signaled the generally poor cone crops on spruces, balsam fir and white pine in the mixed coniferous/deciduous forest region across Ontario and in Atlantic Canada, New York and New England States. Red-breasted Nuthatches will be very scarce this winter in central Ontario such as Algonquin Park. White spruce crops are excellent in the northern half of the boreal forest, but it is uncertain how many Red-breasted Nuthatches will winter that far north.

BOHEMIAN WAXWING: Most Bohemians Waxwings will stay close to the boreal forest this winter because mountain-ash berry crops are excellent across Canada, except in Newfoundland. Some should wander south to traditional areas of eastern and central Ontario such as Ottawa and Peterborough where planted European mountain-ashes and ornamental crabapples are frequent. If you get the opportunity to visit northern Ontario this winter, you may see Bohemian Waxwings and Pine Grosbeaks feeding together on mountain-ash berries. The grosbeaks eat the seeds and discard the flesh whereas the waxwings swallow the entire berry and sometimes eat the fleshy leftovers of the grosbeaks. The similar coloration of Bohemian Waxwings and female Pine Grosbeaks may be functional, perhaps reducing interspecific aggression when they feed together.

WHERE TO SEE FINCHES
A winter trip to Algonquin Park is a birding adventure. The park is a three hour drive north of Toronto. Finch numbers will be low in Algonquin forests this winter, but the feeders at the Visitor Centre should attract redpolls, Evening Grosbeaks and Pine Grosbeaks. Gray Jays frequent the suet feeder and sometimes Pine Martens and Fishers feed on the suet and sunflower seeds. A high observation deck overlooks a spectacular boreal wetland and black spruce/tamarack forest. Eastern Timber Wolves (Canis lycaon), which until recently was a subspecies of the Gray Wolf (C. lupus), are seen occasionally from the observation deck feeding on road-killed Moose put out by park staff. The Visitor Centre and restaurant at km 43 are open on weekends in winter. Arrangements can be made to view feeders on weekdays. For information,
call the Visitor Centre at 613-637-2828. The Spruce Bog Trail at km 42.5 near the Visitor Centre and the gated area north on the Opeongo Road are the best spots for finches, Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Spruce Grouse and Black-backed Woodpecker.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: I thank staff of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources from across the province designated by an asterisk* and many others whose reports allow me to make annual forecasts: Dennis Barry (Durham Region and Washington State), Eleanor Beagan (Prince Edward Island), Ken Corston* (Moosonee), Pascal Cote (Tadoussac Bird Observatory, Quebec), Mark Cranford,  Samuel Denault (Monts-Pyramides, Quebec), Bruce Di Labio (Eastern Ontario), Carrolle Eady (Dryden), Cameron Eckert (Yukon), Brian Fox* (South Porcupine), Francois Gagnon (Abitibi, Lac Saint-Jean, Saguenay, Quebec), Marcel Gahbauer (Alberta), Michel Gosselin (Canadian Museum of Nature), David Govatski  (New Hampshire), Charity Hendry* (Ontario Tree Seed Plant), Leo Heyens* (Kenora), Tyler Hoar (Central and Northern Ontario), George Holborn* (Thunder Bay), Eric Howe*, Peter Hynard (Minden), Jean Iron (Northeastern Ontario and James Bay), Bob Knudsen (Sault Ste Marie, Ontario), Bruce Mactavish (Newfoundland), David McCorquodale (Cape Breton Island), Erwin Meissner (Massey), Andree Morneault* (North Bay to Renfrew County), Brian Naylor* (North Bay to Renfrew County), Martyn Obbard*, Stephen O’Donnell (Parry Sound District), Fred Pinto* (North Bay to Renfrew County), Dean Phoenix*, Rick Salmon* (Lake Nipigon), Harvey and Brenda Schmidt (Creighton, Saskatchewan), Don Sutherland* (Northern Ontario), Ron Tozer (Algonquin Park), Declan Troy (Alaska),
Gert Trudel (Gowganda), Mike Turner* (Haliburton Highlands), John Woodcock (Thunder Cape Bird Observatory), Alan Wormington, and Matt Young of Cornell University, who provided detailed information about seed crops in New York and other eastern states. Jean Iron and Michel Gosselin made many helpful comments and proofed the forecast. LITERATURE CITED: Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario 2007 by editors M.D. Cadman, D.A. Sutherland, G.G. Beck, D. Lepage and A.R. Couturier.
http://www.birdsontario.org/atlas/index.jsp

Ron Pittaway Ontario Field Ornithologists
Minden, Ontario
23 September 2010

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Snowbank Lake Hiking Trail

K.A. Hiking Club

K.A. Hiking Club

Last weekend the K.A. Hiking Club went on their annual backpacking trip with 4 of their charter members. Wow, the Snowbank Lake Trail, which is partially in the BWCAW, is an incredible hiking trail! We took off from Crane Lake crossing the Echo Trail to Ely and from there we drove 20 north to “Smitty’s on Snowbank” where we spent the night before heading out into the bush. What a bunch of characters at Smitty’s. Right away when we checked in, the guy behind the counter says “oh you’re going out in the woods, and it’s not even Halloween yet!” Yikes! Spooky!

The next morning we woke to an awesome breakfast at Smitty’s. They know how to treat you right! It was the homemade cinnamon toast where I broke a tooth and thought maybe my trip would be compromised. It took away my appetite, but all seemed to be okay so we proceeded with our plans.

We finally got out on the trail at 9:20 after doing some minor re-packing and reconnoitering. The drizzle that had insisted on falling throughout the night and morning, suddenly quit, lucky for us for that was the only precipitation we encountered all weekend. But, the woods were wet. The ferns that grow along the trails in canoe country, sometimes are as tall as me – many reaching my shoulder – so, we got very wet anyhow. Good thing for raingear, it came in handy.

Now for the trail. We had read that the best way to conquer this “difficult” trail is to start out by going north and traverse the lake in a clockwise direction. We now know why that is recommended. The trail starts out mild enough, but soon you begin to notice the numerous rocks that lie in the path and that the rocks look different. They stick up at odd angles and many are jagged. One has to carefully watch the trail and think out each foot placement. There’s not much time to look up and take in the surroundings – or if you do, you risk tripping or worst yet turning your ankle, which would be disastrous with a heavy pack on your back. Then, while we concentrated on foot placement, we hardly noticed that we were steadily climbing. Not until we abruptly went back down again to cross over a low area which inevitably held a beaver pond and dam. Then it would be back up again heading to the top of the ridge. This is where we’d have some terrific views of the lake.

We passed Flash Lake Bay campsite and later Griddle Lake Bay campsite with nary a nod – we didn’t have time to investigate this early in the day. As we passed Lakeside Central campsite we decided to stop for lunch. We got out our maps and found that we best get hoofing it if we were to make it to our campsite for the night. We planned on getting to Newfound Bay campsite the first night. We are pretty close to the lake at this point and Lori is the only one smart enough to filter water. Us other 3 figured we had enough water and decided not to take the time. That was a bad decision, load up on water here because you won’t be down by the lake until you reach Newfound Bay. The two little lakes on the map are just big beaver ponds and not very appealing for water filtering.

Finally we reach Newfound Bay campsite, but not before getting some great views of the surrounding landscape. On top of the hill we look north and can see the valley where Moose Lake and Newfound Lake lie, and to the south a magnificent view of Snowbank Lake and the many islands that dot the lake.

setting up camp

setting up camp

The campsite sits in a grove of beautiful Red Pine and some make-shift rock steps lead down to the lake. The water is very clear. Snowbank Lake is deep and there are Lake Trout in it.

We continue to set up camp and get about cooking dinner. Night falls early in the autumn and it was dark by 7 pm. Dinner is particularly good tonight as we carried in our own hobo dinners in which we could bring meat if we wanted to. I had a nice New York strip steak cooked over the fire. mmmm. Then it was time to hang up our food. We’d heard lots of bear reports so we put our food in two different bags and hung each in a separate tree. If we did get a bear, maybe he’d only take one bag of food, or so we hoped. The night was uneventful and we all slept fairly well in our 4-person tent.

The next morning it was rather chilly, but the sun was out and it looked like it was going to be a great day. We broke camp and got going at 9:30. Again we thought we’d get going earlier, but it takes time to cook breakfast and the required two cups of coffee.

Up and down, up and down some more until we came around a corner and there it was: the place where Smitty’s had told us about “just wait til you have to climb up on your hands and knees”. We didn’t know if we could believe anything they said at Smitty’s, but this proclamation was right on. We stopped at looked up at what seemed like a big cliff and sure enough there were places to put your feet and hands and climb up. Lori scrambled up first, I took a deep breath and went up second. Now I’ve had dreams where I’m climbing steep stairs and suddenly fall backwards – this was as close to that feeling as I’ve ever felt. With the heavy pack on the back, I couldn’t look up or down and by the time I got to the top, I definitely needed Lori’s helping hand to pull me up. Wow! I honestly don’t know how you’d get back down that incline with a pack on, you’d have to take off the packs and lower them down with ropes. But alas, we made it and we were on to the next hill.

Snowbank Lake Hiking Trail

Snowbank Lake Hiking Trail

The north side of Snowbank Lake was affected by the big blowdown storm of 1999, and it’s still very evident. The Forest Service has done some prescribed burns here and the landscape is that of a forest fire. There are charred remains with lots of new shrub and wildflower growth.

rock ridge at Snowbank Lake

rock ridge at Snowbank Lake

At one point we came down by a beaver pond and looked up at a steep rock hill. I told the girls I wasn’t going up there. And that seemed like the case until the trail winded around and there we were – we were going up that hill! Ahhhh, but the views up there were breathtaking!

rock ridge at Snowbank Lake

rock ridge at Snowbank Lake

Snowbank Lake

Snowbank Lake

Finally we were crossing the Boot Lake portage trail and it was here that we stopped for lunch. Studying our maps it looked like the trail may flatten out and after lunch we did indeed find out that the trail was quite different here. Honestly, it was like a different world – the trail was even and the rocks were the nice ones like we have at home – rounded and friendly :-)

We made good time down to Disappointment Lake where there was a beautiful campsite. Someone had even left a nice bundle of firewood. But, we just didn’t think it was a good idea, too much bad ju-ju going on around Disappointment Lake – that’s where all the bear problems were coming from. So we took a quick break and headed off to Parent Lake. We were making good time and the map I had seemed to be pretty accurate. So we thought we’d reach the campsite in no time. But we kept walking and walking and walking. Where was that campsite? At one point we asked ourselves if we should go back, somehow we must have missed the turn off. But onward we trudged and finally there was the marker!

Campsite marker

Campsite marker

And what a great campsite it was – Parent Lake is crystal clear and there are lots of Jack Pine around – the best wood for campfires. We had our dehydrated dinners that night – and I must say it never tasted so good!

Parent Lake Sunset

Parent Lake Sunset

A good night’s sleep and we were on our way out. We made an attempt to step things up and we broke camp at 8:30, another quick cup of coffee and we were off.

Snowbank - Kek Trail junction

Snowbank - Kek Trail junction

Just a short distance away we got on the famous Kekekabic Trail and the end was getting close. Up to this point we hadn’t met another soul on the trail, so we were surprised to meet a party of 4 guys who were just finishing the 38 mile Kek Trail that starts at the very end of the Gunflint Trail and winds its’ way through the BWCAW to Snowbank Lake.

Overall, the 23 mile Snowbank Lake Hiking Trail is a challenge but it is very well maintained and there are very few deadfalls to climb over. Something that can really slow down a hike. So if you can handle the ups and downs it is very much worth it.

I used the map and detailed information from pemmican.org for this trip – it was very helpful. We also had a McKenzie map with us, it was interesting to cross-reference the two maps, because neither was exactly accurate. We decided to always bring two different versions of the same map with us in the future.

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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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