Thursday, July 15, 2010

Morning on Crescent Lake

Dawn comes early in the north--5:30 am early, to be precise, which means the birds start signing at around 4:45 am. So I was awake before sunrise but couldn't bring myself to roll out of bed (since we were car camping I'd brought my cot--ahhhh). When I did finally get up and stumble down to the water, I wished I had gotten up when I first awoke--what a beautiful morning! I grabbed my paddle and hopped in my kayak. Karin had to stay and have her morning coffee, and came out later.

I had the lake completely to myself. Not a breath of wind stirred the surface.

I turned to look back at our campsite. Nothing of it could be seen but Karin's blue kayak laying on the shore.

A small creek flowed--into? out of? the lake. I thought this would be a prime spot to see a moose. All of the pond lily flowers were munched off just at the waterline, and I thought maybe that was moose-doings, but we discovered later that this was also from the beaver.

While I floated by the creek, movement in the trees caught my eye and I saw, above me in the cedars, a black-throated green warbler. How exciting! A new species for me!

Around a bend I disturbed a family of common mergansers resting on the shore. What a sight they were, chicks huddles around and under mom. Unfortunately I couldn't get my camera out before they spooked and hopped in the water.

Fog is a constant companion this near to Lake Superior. It thins and thickens, blows in in great clouds but can blow out just as fast. The fog was a much of a character here as the beaver and loons.

Speaking of beaver, on the far side of the lake from the campground, I finally saw the beaver lodge. Keeping my distance, I watched as two beavers busied themselves at the lodge.

It was then I was distracted by a loon. As I watched the loon and tried to get some photos, I heard a tremendous splash. I looked around but all I saw was another family of mergansers swimming away from the lodge. I thought, "huh, that's odd, I wouldn't think a bird that size would make that much noise jumping into the water, but OK." I turned back to the loon, as I drifted slowly past the lodge.

Then I heard the splash again and wondered "What the...??" I turned and noticed that suddenly everywhere there were beavers. They were coming from several different places on the lake, four or five of them, and it was then I realized that the splashing was one of the beavers smacking its tail against the surface of the water in a warning to me that I was getting too close to their home. Ha! I really wanted to get some shots of the tail slapping in action but I don't like to intentionally disturb the wildlife so I moved away.

The loon in the meantime had totally disappeared, perhaps because of the warnings from the beaver. I never heard it take off--loons make a tremendous racket when they take off, running across the surface of the water for several hundred feet before finally taking to the air--but I also never saw it resurface. Later, as I was making my way back to camp for some breakfast, I saw the loon, not more than 200 feet from out campsite.

Nothing like hiding in plain sight!

Next: The spectacular Orphan Lake Trail

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