Dragonfly Rescue

It seems that there is always something to observe, if I only take the time to notice.  What started as a routine sweeping of the porch ended with the rescue of a tired dragonfly. 

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This little one was caught in a light webbing. I carefully put my finger under its legs to free it.  I was rewarded with a slight fluttering of its shimmery wings. Still not sure if it was merely stressed or nearly dead, I patiently waited.

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Whatever assistance I provided must have been enough, for a moment later it off it flew. 

Not There Yet

After two days of intermittent rain showers and fog, we woke up to this view and a temperature of 32 degrees.  The lake is looking much darker, and I love how the change in light can give it such a different perspective. 

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As we’ve been watching the decline in the ice, we are limited to what we see down in front.  In the absence of drone-capability, we mused on what the overall conditions might look like from a higher perspective.  Inspired by the blue sky and sunshine, I decided to take a hike up to the South Rim.  Let’s take a west-to-east tour of the lake via photos from the overlook above our place. 

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Looking as far west as I could see from my vantage point.  This area often opens first, given the warm waters of the Cross River flowing in.

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I can see some open water near shore on the Canadian side, but there is no sign yet of ice piling up.

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The bay behind the point across from us is opening up nicely.

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Looking to the northeast, it is interesting to me that the blackest ice is on the south side.  Generally speaking, the north shore sees more sunshine, hence warming and melt.  Will this be a year when we see the ice go out without reaching that “mostly black” and rotten state?

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Photographing the east end is a little tricky from this spot, with trees in the way.  Still, I was able to see some open water.  This correlates with Greg’s venture down to the east end a week or so ago.  He said that the northeast-most corner of the lake was opening up, due to a drainage from a small pond up that way.  That appears to have opened the lake all the way to Wartner’s bay.

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And finally, a panoramic view.  I can’t really see any open water in this overall view, since it is mostly found at the ends and edges.

As you can see, we have a bit of a ways to go yet before anyone is able to reach the east end.  But if someone wants to make their way into Magnetic, that looks like it may be possible.  We’ll keep an eye on things and keep you posted! 

When Will the Ice Go Out?

It’s a cool May morning here on Gunflint Lake, a few days before the fishing season is scheduled to open.  The snow has finally melted away, save for a few piles and drifts in the shaded woods.  The temps are in the high forties, and in today’s case, it is cloudy with rain due.  How many years has it been now, that I’ve seen mornings like this? Thirty-two, actually.  And in that time, I have only seen the ice still on the lake for perhaps three.

Yes, we seem to have a year once again where the ice is hanging around longer than most of us would like.  It’s always a guessing game as to when it will go, and the lake will be open water again.  In my early years, the neighbors would start an ice-out pool in March.  For a buck, you could put your date down.  The parameter to be met was that one could navigate from the west end near Cross River, all the way to the east end beach, which meant travel in to Little Gunflint.  That was the destination that most fishermen sought, the smaller, and thus warmer, water of the next lake over.  One year, I was fortunate enough to guess correctly, and for me, it truly was a guess.  It was my second spring here, and I was pregnant.  My winnings went towards yarn, to weave a blanket for the new baby.  

We no longer have an ice pool, and I have not ventured to put down a guess of any sorts.  Greg took the bold step of writing May 15 on the black board in our store, about six weeks ago. He could very well be correct.  The color of the ice, my best judge of what is going on, has been progressing mostly steadily in the proper direction, from white to grey, and now to black in a few places.  I can detect some shifting in the ice mass, another good sign. We are finally seeing the ice pull away from shore, and last evening, it was wonderful to stand down at the lake’s edge to observe the rocks under the surface.  If we get some rain this afternoon, that will help.   This morning, I heard the loons do a fly-over, indicating that they are as anxious as we are.

But to the age-old question of when it actually will go out?  The only answer that comes to mind is “We’ll see.” 

 The view from upstairs. 05.08.18

The view from upstairs. 05.08.18

 05.07.18

05.07.18

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Birding Excitement

I've generally considered myself to be a fledgling birder:  I watch what comes to our feeders in the wintertime, and I listen and try to spot the birds hanging out with us in the summertime.  Loosely, I keep a life list, and every so often (annually?), I must re-acquaint myself with some of the songs that I hear seasonally, because I tend to forget them over the winter. 

Once in a while, we are treated to a rare sighting of something that doesn't inhabit this area on a regular basis.  Ususally, that includes a species that will stop by while migrating further north.  I love it when I spot a hooded merganser, as they look so exotic to me.  This year, I happened to stop at the wayside at Swamper Lake, and there were two pairs of these, swiftly swimming away from me, so no chance for a photo.   

Today, Greg noticed a flock of white birds on the Canadian side of the lake.  He brought them to my attention, but with the binoculars, they were still too small and faraway to identify.  He decided to hop in his boat to investigate further.  I would have accompanied him, but I was still finishing up chores, as today is our first day officially open for the summer season.  When he got back, he shared the photos and some video with me, while surrounded by bird identification books.

 

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It didn't take him long to narrow down the list, and a short time after, he pretty much decided that it was a flock of Bonaparte's gulls.  When we zoomed in on the photo above, the bird in flight showed markings that are characteristic of this type of gull.   

 

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He also got some good video of the birds leaving the water to fly around a bit. 

 

 

Thanks to the Internet, we feel like we have made a fairly reliable identification.  What sealed the deal for me, was the ability to listen to the audio file of the birds' call.   Reading a description is helpful, but hearing a short clip of it makes it much easier to confirm.  It's also nice to read up on the birds, more than just the short information offered in the field guide.  For instance, I learned that this bird is named to commemorate Charles Bonaparte, a younger brother of the more famous fellow named Napoleon.  Fun little facts that may someday be useful in trivia!  If you want to read more about these gulls, just follow this link:   https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Bonapartes_Gull/sounds