Yesterday I drove down the Echo Trail (county road 116) to Lake Jeanette to take a hike on the ASTRID LAKE TRAIL.
It was a beautiful warm sunny day although there were still patches of snow in the woods.
This trail goes through some beautiful “boreal” forest. The beginning of the trail goes through a Black Spruce forest and the trail is raised above the spagnum moss. The forest floor is covered with LABRADOR TEA bushes – they stretch out across the landscape as far as the eye can see. I am going to have to come back here when they are in bloom – should be spectacular! This unique bush stays evergreen all winter – they don’t lose their leaves.
It was fairly quiet in the woods – it’s still early for those summer migrants. A merlin falcon was grating out his call over Lake Jeanette somewhere. Merlins are noisy little falcons that nest up here in the border country. Once they establish a territory and find a nesting site, they are extremely noisy going to and fro. Their call is not necessarily a comforting one and it can drive some people crazy. I find it very interesting and enjoy hearing them.
Later I heard the plaintive whistles of a couple of broad-winged hawks.
One sounded close and I couldn’t believe how close he was until he flew. Then both hawks took off into the woods flying between the trees. I heard a third hawk further back behind the two.
Deep in the forest among the conifers I heard the very quiet chip notes of golden-crowned kinglets. Then I saw a few and they had their golden crown exposed quite dramatically. You don’t get to see that very often, but it seems that when they are on their breeding territory, they will readily flash their awesome crown. It was so extended that the top of their head was a effervescent orange color.
Ruby-crowned kinglets were also present singing their loud song and flashing their ruby crown.
This plant pictured above is one of my favorites. It is called Ground Cedar. You don’t see it very often I think it might be kind of rare. It is from the family of club mosses and stays evergreen all winter. It looks like the leaves of a Cedar tree but they aren’t related.
This is a photo of Caribou Moss. This plant is actually a lichen and it grows everywhere up here in the boreal woods.
Finally, the next picture is something you don’t see on your average blog. It is wolf scat (translation: wolf poop).
What I find interesting about wolf scat is the amount of deer fur in it. There’s also a pretty big bone fragment in there. This is another common sight out on the trails. I’ve never seen a wolf out here while hiking, but they probably have seen me.