Monday, July 9, 2007
After taking endless shots of people paddling on the water, panoramic views of island vistas, and sunset shots, I realized that I was very weak on the wildlife photos. As the header on my blog says, "Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement". After missing countless ducks, eagles, deer, etc, I decided to just screw on the telephoto when paddling. Here are the results of that slowly learned lesson.
Cormorants. The reviled double crested cormorant. Their population has exploded recently and they are everywhere. Whether I've been on the Chippewa Flowage, Lake Superior, or even the uber urban Lake of the Isles in downtown Minneapolis there are cormorants all over. There was big controversy a couple years back over shooting the cormorants on Leech Lake. Simple arithmetic....8 years ago 50 nests. Two years ago, 2500 nests. One pound of fish per bird per day. Might this impact the fishery?? This shot is taken on the Manitou rock off Manitou island. You simply can't imagine the stench as you approach the area. Normally baby animals of any species, even rats, are kinda cute. This does not apply to cormorants. There are theories about the population explosion but, as you can likely deduce, I'm against it. Kinda like I'm against the Whitetail deer explosion but thats another tirade.
This shot is of a merganser mom and her brood scurrying out of the way of a threatening 17' long red fish shaped thing. My bird expert, GurneyGranny, said its either a common or red breasted merganser. I count an even dozen offspring. They 'ran' for about 25 yards and then mom turned around and gave me "The Look". We men know The Look. Its unexplainable but we know exactly what is being communicated. Photo credits to to GG for cropping this merganser shot.
Gulls. The shallow area between the Manitou Rock and the fish camp had become even shallower with the 18" drop in lake level. As you pick your way through you see lots of native deposits of the mineral 'gel coat' on many of the rocks. The gulls have picked out the rocks just under the surface to hang out and look cool. The duo in the photo are looking very cool. They must have no olfactory senses because they hang with the cormorants out on Manitou Rock also.
Eagles. Taken off the Endangered Species list but maybe thats OK. I've never seen less than 4 or 5 different eagles on any Apostles trip and this trip was no exception. We even saw two immature eagle that appeared to be heading toward Devils Island for god knows what purpose. A couple years ago we were snowshoeing at our deer camp near Oulu, WI and found an eagle that some redneck moron had shot. We called the DNR who did a necropsy to confirm and that was the all we heard of the story. I'd like to catch one of those redneck SOB's while in posession of a good testicle pliers but that has yet to happen. This eagle was perched in a large white pine on the northwest end of Manitou Island as we headed toward our camp. Kayakers didn't upset him a bit but then he didn't have offspring in the water like Ma Merganser.
Most of us enjoy large mammals. On this trip we found two campsites with bear boxes (York and Manitou) and two without (Cat and Outer Islands). Last year we spent the last night on Basswood before they closed it down due to bear problems. I think there are 3 or 4 sites on the south tip of Basswood. One has a bear box. I know this because we paddled out late from Bayfield and arrived at dusk. I had to inform the squatters on our site at Basswood 1 that they had to move to their 'real' site. They whined that "there was no bear box there!". Being the cruel Libertarian that I am, I explained responsibilities and consequences. The NPS closed Basswood to camping the very next day. This handsome guy was found strolling down the beach. Our group had become strung out when returning from the fish camp (remember: I had to paddle out to Manitou Rock to get visual and olfactory evidence of the cormorant community). When I heard the Bessemer Convivialist pounding on her boat I turned to GalwayGuy and said, "Bear in camp!". Correct once again. Our thought was a yearling but opinions are welcome. He just strolled down the beach and paid no attention to we paddlers.
The Apostles are a special place and even though I've been there countless times it is never the same and I never get tired of it. Wind, weather, waves, and wildlife are constantly changing and making it a new experience each time you launch.