Tuesday was a beautiful winter day, boasting a gorgeous blue sky... second to none. Mary and I hopped in the Jeep and headed for Grand Marais.
We meandered up the Gunflint Trail a few miles and turned down the Trout Lake road. I thought with some good luck, we might be fortunate to see a moose or Canada Lynx. We drove a number of miles, but never saw one track crossing or along side the road. So, when all else fails, have lunch.
Entering Grand Marais, we hit a birding bonanza. In the mountain ash trees, we saw dozens of Cedar Waxwings feeding on the over ripe berries. The birds, framed against the azure blue sky and red, mountain ash berries, were spectacular. I took photos for more than an hour and was fortunate to get the best Cedar Waxwing photos to date.
We went to the "Crooked Spoon" restaurant for lunch. It is a marvelous restaurant, featuring gourmet sandwiches and specials that would "top off" a starving logger.
Later, we returned to the mountain ash trees, but the Cedar Waxwings had left. We drove to the Grand Marais Municipal Campground to look for the waxwings. In the park, we not only found the waxwings, but a small flock of female Pine Grosbeaks. They proved to be more docile and approachable than the waxwings, so I ended up with a few, flawless Pine Grosbeak shots.
Female Pine Grosbeak
The next day I returned to Grand Marias, to search once more for the waxwings. I found them and a few male Pine Grosbeaks on my first attempt. I stayed there for over a hour, snapping more than a hundred photos and enjoying the pristine, winter day. When all the birds disappeared, I left to check out the mountain ash trees in town. In a previous post, I mentioned that Grand Marais, for it's size, must have the most mountain ash trees in America. It is a birders paradise in the fall, winter and spring... at least while the berries are hanging on. This winter, the berries are still thick on the trees, but are starting to fall off with the changes in the weather. The snow below the trees is stained red by the fallen fruit.
American Robin Jan. 22, 2009
Making my way through town, street by street, I passed the Art Colony building. Earlier, on January 22, I had taken an American Robin photo in the hawthorn tree by the building. As I turned the corner, I noticed a few Cedar Waxwings flying out of the hawthorn tree. I parked the car, took my camera and walked over to the hawthorn tree.
The Cedar Waxwings flew out of a pine tree, returning to the hawthorn tree. When they attempted to land, a rust colored missile, flew chirping out of a pine, directly behind the hawthorn tree. It was the same robin I photographed in January; he was guarding his waning treasure of hawthorn fruit.
I stayed there and took photos of his relentless "strafing" of the Cedar Waxwings. The waxwings would perch in the nearby pines and any attempt to land was thwarted by the "mad bomber." It was hilarious to watch and photograph. Finally, after nearly thirty minutes of chasing waxwings away from his tree, he pursued the remainder down the street... and didn't return.
I suspected he would be back at dusk for his evening meal and taking up his post as the 'Sentinel and Guardian of the Hawthorn Tree.'
"Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher." ~ William Wordsworth