Notes from the North Woods

Someone asked me at dinner “What time did you get up” and as I was trying to remember what time I woke up this morning, and kinda wondering why she was asking me that, my wife answered for me: “Noon.”

So I’m thinking “Why does Amanda think I woke up at noon. As a matter of fact, at noon, we were just arriving at the cabin up here …. oh … ” …brain kicks in … “we got up here a noon. Got it.”

At noon. We got Up. To The Lake. … It’s a Minnesota thing.

Today I heard about a maple tree that fell in half …. the top half fell off … because woodpeckers nested in it and overdid the nest building activity. What this misses is that a rotted tree (and this tree is rotted) has many hundreds of thousands of organisms distributed among hundreds of species, including fungi, bacteria, worms, insects, and so on, working on that woody material. The woodpeckers, being more visible, get blamed. How unfair to the woodpeckers.

The resident loons have two chicks. You could tell they have two chicks without seeing them because the territorial/warning call they give when they have chicks is distinctly different from the chick-free territorial/warning call. But from where I’m sitting right now, I can also simply look out the window and see the chicks, which are a the moment riding on mom/dad’s back. The chicks look no more than 48 hours old. I’m tempted to go over and look at the nest to see if there are any egg fragments, but I’m afraid of getting pecked to death by the loons. (Of course, they’ve probably abandoned the nest by now anyway). These loons did not produce young last year.

Caught and released innumerable bluegills this afternoon. Observed numerous painted turtles in the “lagoon,” and the bigger female turtles are pulling out all over the place to lay eggs. And, we are having a (light) lake fly hatch, and there is another cycle of tree frog lekking going on. A lot of K-strategy organisms are busily scarfing up the r-strategy outputs.

Today’s birds en route from the twin cities to Cass County, and the vicinity of Woman Lake:

  1. Bald Eagle (pair with two-year old and the two-year old)
  2. black capped chickadee
  3. blue jay
  4. brown cow bird
  5. Canada goose
  6. Common Golden eye
  7. common tern (a good one)
  8. common yellow throat
  9. crow
  10. grackle
  11. gray catbird
  12. great blue heron
  13. hairy woodpecker (breeding pair)
  14. loon (breeding pair)
  15. mallard (breeding pairs)
  16. nuthatch (heard)
  17. phoebe
  18. pileated woodpecker
  19. robin
  20. ruby throated hummingbird
  21. tree swallow
  22. trumpeter swan (pair)
  23. veery (heard)
  24. Whip-poor-will (heard)
  25. wood thrush
  26. yellow bellied sap sucker

Not a bad day for your basic casual birding! (Most of the more interesting sightings were Amanda’s. I was busy flipping fish out of the lake.)

Comments

  1. #1 Stephanie Z
    June 12, 2009

    You got out of the Cities without seeing an egret? I never manage that.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    June 12, 2009

    Right. We also didn’t record the pigeons ….

  3. #3 Stephanie Z
    June 12, 2009

    Yeah, okay. Fair enough. Although I don’t usually get out without seeing a heron either.

  4. #4 Michael Spencer
    June 13, 2009

    OK, Grego, cipher me this [and fair warning, there is a trap ahead]: why were you catching and releasing?

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    June 13, 2009

    Stephanie: When you drive out of the twin cities to the north, you pretty much drive out of Egret land (this is the “Great Egret” Ardea alber). For this reason I tend to think of them as city birds because I see them all the time in highway ditches and urban ponds, but then when we leave the city we rarely see them (and if we do it is where they seem to be artificially concentrated.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen one on the lake.

    Michael: I release them because I want them to live out their lives in the wild unharassed by humans. Except that one time. This is not to say that I don’t occasionally eat them.

  6. #6 Tristram Brelstaff
    June 13, 2009

    7. common tern (a good one)

    One good tern deserves another.

  7. #7 Dan J
    June 13, 2009

    “What time did you get up?” reminds me of another phrase I heard when visiting just north of the twin cities: “You going with?”

    Maybe there’s a propensity for keeping the preposition but dropping the rest of the phrase when it’s supposed to be commonly understood.

    I never was much of a fisherman, but the birding seems to be really good up there. I may have to visit again soon.

  8. #8 David Lee
    June 13, 2009

    That’s a lot of birdage.

  9. #9 Barn Owl
    June 13, 2009

    Sounds like a great way to spend the day/weekend. Alas, I have no cabin (nor any type of second abode), but at least I have friends with a ranch west of town, where it is a few degrees cooler than in the ‘burbs. I tried to take a photo of two Crested Caracaras just off the ranch road, but they flew away and I only caught the mile marker and one tail. Also saw or heard the following birds:

    – Vermilion Flycatcher
    – Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
    – Purple Martin
    – Barn Swallow
    – Red-winged Blackbird
    – Wild Turkey
    – Northern Bobwhite
    – Sharp-shinned Hawk
    – Turkey Vulture
    – Black Vulture
    – Black-bellied Whistling Duck
    – Inca Dove
    – Mourning Dove

    Always see loads of Grackles, Barn Swallows, and a Common Nighthawk or two when I walk the dog just after sunset in the ‘burbs. Lots of Mexican Free-tailed Bats right now as well.

  10. #10 Ben Zvan
    June 14, 2009

    Yellow bellied sap sucker? Them’s good eating.

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