Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Hiking Vermilion Gorge


Hi again! The summer was pretty busy at the farm (www.cookscountryconnection.com) , so Mr. Wonderful, Danny, and I took a Sunday off to make another hike up to Vermilion Gorge.  The leaves were still beautiful, and the high temp was 88!

People often mistake Vermilion Falls with Vermilion Gorge. The Falls are the really short hike that was shortened a few years ago. It’s right before Crane Lake. Here is the USFS sheet on that one. 

Vermilion Gorge is the 3 mile round-trip hike that takes about 3 hours “at a leisurely pace”, according to Vermilion Gorge USFS info sheet.  Drive all the way through Crane Lake and park in the private parking lot for Voyagaire Houseboats on the left. In the fall and early spring, the lot is full of said houseboats, but there will be signs pointing you to the trailhead.

The hike starts in a birch/aspen (popple) forest, and the sky was perfect this day. Most of the maple leaves were on the ground, but the vibrant yellows popped with the deep blue fall sky. We spent a lot of time looking straight up.

 

Vermilion Gorge (4 of 195) Vermilion Gorge (6 of 195) Vermilion Gorge (7 of 195) Vermilion Gorge (10 of 195)

As the trail climbed into the Norway pines, we noticed a million types of mushrooms.

Vermilion Gorge (18 of 195) Vermilion Gorge (26 of 195)And writing this post, I noticed we got photobombed by a bald eagle!! Very top of the photo, left of center. 
Vermilion Gorge (20 of 195)The reflections were breathtaking. 
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Some kind soul had left a walking stick at the trailhead, so the Boy happily used it, returning it for the next person.

 

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I could be wrong, but I think this is a glacial erratic. I didn’t get any good shots of it on this trip, so this pic is from last year.

Vermilion Gorge-208

 

 

 

 

 

Vermilion Gorge (69 of 195) Vermilion Gorge (79 of 195) Vermilion Gorge (82 of 195)

We sat for a break (for me, not them lol), and Paul noticed this birdnest in a birch tree overhanging the gorge.

Vermilion Gorge (103 of 195)

Yep, he has his device. But he got some awesome photos and is reading in this picture. No gaming.

Vermilion Gorge (124 of 195)

It was during this break that I noticed cairns farther upstream. Paul and Danny did some scouting, and were sure I could make it, with help. I’m so lucky to have these two; I wouldn’t have attempted this hike without backup. Not that it’s super-difficult; it’s just too much for me, with bum hips, knees, and ankles. They were such troopers, helping me up and down stairs and steep sections of trail.

Anyway, I remembered being on the other side of the monolith with BFF Terri several years ago, and had pretty much given up the idea of making it there this time. Luckily the lure of getting photos with the sun hitting the gorge dead-on and a little encouragement from my family got me over the hump.

Vermilion Gorge (138 of 195) Vermilion Gorge (144 of 195) Vermilion Gorge (152 of 195) Vermilion Gorge (153 of 195) Vermilion Gorge (160 of 195) Vermilion Gorge (162 of 195) Vermilion Gorge (164 of 195) Vermilion Gorge (174 of 195)

Would you believe that not counting the canoeists, we only saw two people on the way in, and a group of four as we were almost back out??

Vermilion Gorge (183 of 195) Vermilion Gorge (191 of 195) Vermilion Gorge (194 of 195)

Hope you enjoyed the hike!

 

 

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For Fox’ Sake…


That may be my favorite blog post title EVER.

On Sunday July 6, Mr. Wonderful, Male Spawn, and I took a day trip to the Vermilion Falls and Vermilion Gorge hiking trails. Northern MN has been getting a lot of rain and so I hoped there would be lots of photo opportunities. The weather didn’t cooperate, but the wildlife did!

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Next time we’ll take video, too. On the short walk back to the car, someone pointed out a dragonfly.

Dragonfly, mn, pajari girls, cook's country connection, photography, pretty bugs

Then Danny grabbed my arm and pointed up the trail…

Canid, fox, cross fox, red fox,

Canid, fox, cross fox, red fox,

 

Canid, fox, cross fox, red fox,

Canid, fox, cross fox, red fox,

 

Could it be a Red fox? They come in many colors…including Silver, which is different from the Gray fox,  which are one of only 2 members of the Canidae family that can climb trees…but the Gray fox has a black tail. Crap.

This was driving me nuts! (I really really really hoped that it was a young Timber Wolf. That opened another can of worms. )

I sent the photos to my friend Colleen who works at the USFS, LaCroix Station. The biologist there said it was a Cross fox. 100% sure. At first I didn’t understand. Was that a cross between a Red and Gray? Nope, it is a TYPE of Red fox. At one time it was thought to be it’s own species, but DNA study changed that. However, “fur farmers and trappers continued to treat each red fox colour form as a distinct species long after scientists concluded that they were variations of the same one”, according to Wikipedia. Well, that clears things up!

I have hauled my Nook around everywhere with me, even to a Little League game. Jeremiah’s dad (John) said he would look into it, too. He works for the DNR. **JUST IN** The DNR says Cross Fox, too! Thanks, John V.!

 

I posted the pictures on Facebook, too, getting several different opinions.

At this point, my vote is Cross fox.

What’s your vote? Please Like, Comment or Share…for fox’ sake!

 

 

PS: If you liked this post, check out Cook’s Country Connection’s Wild Neighbors page. Chop chop. Tell Lois The Employee of the Year sent you. Loveyabye!

 

 

Another Mysterious Burrow


We have been seeing a new critter in the pit at the House On The Hill  and became mostly sure after consulting  my North American Wildlife book and Wikipedia that it was a pine marten or a woodchuck (aka groundhog, aka the critter who lies about winter almost being over EVERY. YEAR.), yet it moved like a beaver. However, when the trail cam captured the photo below, we all got a little nervous, thinking a woodchuck might not be the only new neighbor.

badger, woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

I tried and tried to zoom in with all the photo editing software at my disposal, but this grainy crop was the best that I could do; he was just too far away.

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

I don’t know about you, but that looks like a badger to me. This made us all nervous, because badgers will eat your face off! (Plus, they don’t care; they don’t give a SHIT. This link goes to the Honey Badger video, but they are closely related to the regular badger, whose link is here.)

Then another mysterious hidey-hole appeared behind the barrage. (That’s a barn/garage combo.)

hidey hole

getting this shot made me nervous, because on

This was a little closer than I should have been, but the only way to see the hole through the equisetum. Threw out my ankle some, too. You’re welcome.

ANYWAY…I had managed to get a few grainy shots of this little guy with the Canon, so when I found the hidey hole I placed the trail cam on it to be sure it was him living there, not a badger.

woodchuck

 

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

He or she is very cautious, pausing regularly to stand up and take a look- and sniff- around.

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

She or he seemed to have gotten used to us, and even has a shortcut through Squirt’s playhouse. The white metal to the left is his gate.

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

Hiding in the Lupine…

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

And in front of the barrage.

woodchuck, groundhog, trail cam, marmot, ground squirrel, land beaver, cook's country connection, northern mn, minnesota animals, pajari girls, petting farm

These are my favorite facts from  the wiki link.

  • weighs up to 10 pounds
  • burrows are up to 46 feet long and five feet or more underground, with several exits
  • the average woodchuck (groundhog) moves 35 cubic feet of dirt when making a burrow
  • they are perfect for Hep-B -induced cancer research
  • they do NOT chuck wood…the Native American word for them just sounds like “woodchuck”
  • that does not stop people from yelling out my back door, “Hey you dang woodchuck! Stop chucking my wood!!”

Which may or may not have something to do with why we haven’t been seeing it up as close to the House on the Hill, but did show up on the trail cam when we placed it near Pajari Pond. But that’s another story.

You wanna watch that Geico commercial now, don’t you? So do I.

PS: Do you have a trail cam? What kind of creatures have you seen on it? I’d love to see the pictures!

Hummingbird Moths


Sometimes, it’s the shots you DON’T get. A few years ago, I captured a hummingbird moth on my camera phone. It was mostly a blur, and I had never seen anything like it. It sounded like a bee or a hummingbird, and the wings moved so fast that usually I could barely see them with the naked eye. Plus, Lois and I were probably having daiquiris in the garden. Ever since, I have been interested in, and wanted to capture these bugs on film. All I had was this one blurry, crappy picture and it kinda drove me nuts.

hummingbird moth, nicotiana, tobacco flower

This spring, I was delighted to see them on my own lilac bushes. At first, the yellow and black stripes on their bodies reminded me of a bee of some kind. But when I sped up to 60 frames per second on the Nikon, I was surprised to see that the wings on these moths were … transparent!

 

lilacs butterflies and hummer moths 052keep

 

lilacs butterflies and hummer moths 052keep

 Also, the proboscis is funky! Their tongues just kind of curl up under the chin when not sipping nectar.

hummingbird moth, forget me nots, pajari

If you are as nerdy as me and want to know more, here is the wiki link I used.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge


Here’s the challenge: “Nature Animals: whether you live in the city or country side there are birds, squirrels, deer, ducks, etc.”.

 

An Easter Adventure


I know, I know, you thought I was lost. But I haven’t been really lost; just preoccupied. My sister is opening a petting farm, and I am helping with the web stuff and taking photos. (AFTER you read this, you can go see what we are up to there.  🙂 )

We spent this Easter with Mr. Wonderful’s family in North Dakota. It was nice, low-key, relaxing, etc.

The one stuffing his face? That one’s mine.

 

Until the egg hunt. See, it took us a while to talk the spawn into participating. (They are hitting teen years.)

easter canon 001

By the time we got outside, there had been a thief in the yard.

 

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So we set up the trail cam, replaced the malted milk balls with sunflower seeds, and went for a walk. Six hundred sixty eight pictures later…

 

Trail Cam 056

 

False alarm

False alarm

 

Trail Cam 113

It was a big ‘ol mama squirrel…

Trail Cam 115

with cravings!

Trail Cam 160

Trail Cam 440

Trail Cam 611

Ok… NOW you can go to www.CooksCountryConnection.com

Another Visitor!


This time, the visitor is  Bambi!! Or Faline…I’m not sure which. Either way, this is an adorable baby. Unfortunately, there is no sign of mama. She (or he) visits almost every day, filling up  on the trefoil and clover in our yard.

deer, whitetail, baby deer, fawn deer, whitetail, baby deer, fawn deer, whitetail, baby deer, fawn deer, whitetail, baby deer, fawn deer, whitetail, baby deer, fawn deer, whitetail, baby deer, fawn deer, whitetail, baby deer, fawn deer, whitetail, baby deer, fawn

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