Old Vermilion Trail Birding & Skiing

Old Vermilion Trail is back in business! I had a delightful cross-country ski early this afternoon. The ski trailhead which I groom and maintain is right across the road from the bird feeders (2 miles in from Normana Rd). Rock skis are required as although the snow coverage is good, snow depth varies between 2 and 4 inches and you will occasionally bottom out during a kick (classic only). While driving home, and only a few miles from Old Vermilion Trail I found a huge flock of pine grosbeaks on Lizmore Road, and two Bald Eagles.
y3-m12-lizmore-road-bald-eagle

Finally, here is an image of my friend Greg. We traveled up into the Pagami Creek Forest Fire region yesterday. He is seen scanning Isabella Lake during one of our numerous hikes. It is quite unusual for a lakes to be ice free at this time of year.y3-m12-isabella-lake-pastor-greg

Sunday Night at the Movies: Forest Fires & Foxes!

Before the days of YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime, the network TV stations often had a show named Sunday Night at the Movies! The idea was the network would pick a popular movie and all us Americans would watch same.

Tonight, I bring the 365 Days of Birds Sunday Night at the Movies … In fact … even like when you attend a flick at any good theater I am providing you with a great animated short prior to the main feature! Long time readers of my blog know I love chasing and photographing the Northern Lights. Thus, I was thrilled to finally discover this week what actually causes the Aurora … an Arctic Fox painting the lights with its tail!

Yours truly watching a simultaneous Aurora and sunrise this summer near the Canadian Border in northern Minnesota.
isabella-northern-lights-greenwood-lake-sunrise-2-selfie

And now for our main feature … many of us bird the Pagami Creek Forest Fire region northwest of Isabella (Tomahawk Rd). A few days ago I discovered this video on YouTube; . it is training for US Forest Service rangers. In the video six rangers who were in the BWCA at the time of the fire were working to warn and evacuate people. However, the fire expanded dramatically and quickly; they were themselves overrun by the fire and only saved themselves by deploying fire shelters in the middle of Insula Lake. The video is 35 minutes long, but I found it interesting to hear first hand accounts about what it’s like to have a wildfire catch up to you, and overrun your position. I am actually going up there tomorrow morning with a friend. There will be lots of snow on the ground!

Arctic Bird of the Day: Long-Tailed Duck!

Given a cool, drab December afternoon, and reports that snowy owls might have arrived here on the Arctic Riviera (Duluth, Minnesota), I took a long walk on the waterfront looking for the white owl. Each winter, snowies find our “tundra like” areas next to the St. Louis River the perfect place to take a winter vacation.

Alas, now a snowy owl was to be found, but I did find another Arctic visitor, the Long-Tailed Duck! Actually, I find this particular duck harder to find than snowy owls. Thus, I was very pleased. Now, if I could only have some sunshine and refind these ducks for a photoshot, but I’m afraid that is too much to ask!

Long-Tailed Duck & some “Eyes”
y3-m12-harbor-flock-long-tailed-duck-5

One of these Ducks is an Impostor! Synchronized Golden-Eye Swimming.
y3-m12-harbor-flock-long-tailed-duck-6

Flowers on December 3rd in Northern Minnesota? Strange but True.
(I am 60 years old, and I have never before seen a wildflower blooming in December)
y3-m12-harbor-flock-december-flowers