The final busloads of students for this school year descended on the refuge this morning. We had about 120 antsy fourth graders from Moorhead, MN, on their second to last day of school. Can you imagine the energy? Luckily, I was manning the eagle scope all morning so had some breaks between busloads. The eagles put on quite a show for all of them, and the kids were really pumped up as they made their way back to their next stations. I overheard one of the teachers telling her kids to be sure to tell their principal what a great time they had with the eagles today. For one of the groups, a red-tailed hawk mistakenly got too close to the eagle nest, and we got to watch both adult eagles dive down out of the sky and send that hawk into maneuvers to avoid being blasted to bits! I never had such an exciting end to my school years in Chicago.
It’s too bad the volunteer leading the eagle tour didn’t realize what a teachable moment this was. He was too worried about keeping the bus on schedule. My feelings were, who cares if this bus is five minutes late? Really exciting stuff was happening! Sorry to say, they missed the one parent returning to the nest to check on the youngster after the scuffle in the air. I shouted to him to let them return, but I think he chose not to hear me.
Anyway, after the kids left, Bridgett and I ate our lunches that we had brought with us and headed out to check some of the back trails for downed trees.
Our first trail was the road to the Chippewa water structure. Because of this water structure, Chippewa Lake is formed along the course of the Otter Tail River. As we approached the water regulating structure, a raccoon was ‘fishing’ along the edge. I couldn’t get my camera up quick enough for a picture of it, but I think Bridgett got a great ‘the end’ shot as it scurried away from us. Maybe she’ll post it on her blog tonight.
I did get a picture of a pair of barn swallows that were nearby. I was surprised that they sat still for a few seconds for a photo. They’re usually so busy on the wing.
Next up was the Johnson Lake Trail, and we had one tree down across the lane, but it was light enough for us to drag out of the way.
At the turn around at the Johnson Lake water access, we parked and walked down to the lake shore. I don’t think anyone but staff launch a canoe here for loon counts and such. It’s pretty remote. As Bridgett made her way down the track, I spotted something in the middle.
There were a couple of the tiniest yellow lady’s slippers that I had ever seen. Those little ‘slippers’ were only about an inch long, and fairly hidden by the green growth around them. The ones I’ve seen before were much larger and in bunches. These were just little scattered individual blossoms.
This will give you some idea of the trails we were driving. Not exactly highways through the woods! Most of the trees that had fallen were small enough for us to haul to the side. This pic is to show Bridgett’s John that we were not just on a joy ride, we were ‘working’. It sure was nice to have someone to help with the hauling.
As we started down the Booth Lake Trail, we only got .6 miles along before we were stymied. Before we tried to tackle that tree, I noticed a blooming columbine just brilliantly highlighted by a sunbeam. The tree could wait while I took this photo. I just had to live in the moment. I think of all the wildflowers in the country, the columbine is my all time favorite.
It turned out that the medium sized aspen that was crossing the trail was downed by a busy beaver. It was way too heavy for the two of us to move so I’ve reported it as needing someone with a chain saw to cut it up. It’s amazing to me how the beaver had gnawed off all the delectable branches and just left the long bare trunk across the road. At first glance it looked like someone had sawed off all the branches, but looking closer it was obvious that it had been done by one of Mother Nature’s carpenters.
I had to put the truck into four wheel drive in order to turn around from that impasse, but we got it done. I’ll check out the rest of this trail after that log is removed. We didn’t see any bears or wolves, but it was a great way to spend an afternoon.
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy