Monday, August 4, 2008

A Trip to the Northwoods

Today's post is courtesy of a guest blogger--my Sissy. She's graciously agreed to share the story and pictures of her recent vacation on Snowbank Lake near Ely, Minnesota.

This bay is just down the hill from our "cabin". I love the way the mist hangs above the water on cool mornings like this one. I think the temp dropped overnight that night to the low 50's. The lake was actually warm enough to swim in, at least in this bay.

The first morning we were there we woke up to a thunder shower. It didn't last very long and the rising sun really looked neat on some of the storm clouds. If you look closely, you can see the rain drops falling off the eaves. Once the storm passed the day was beautiful, perfect for heading into town for the Blueberry Festival!

We had sunshine every day while we were in Ely, temps in the 70's and lower 80's. Many of the flowers were blooming in the woods and this fireweed just off our porch provided the perfect photo op. A couple of bees wanted to get their picture taken so they buzzed in for a moment, too.

Most of the vacationers at the resort go there for fishing and/or hunting. We're kind of an oddity as we just go there to relax. While others arrive and unpack all their fishing paraphenalia, we unload suitcases filled with "girlie clothes" and shoes (11 pairs for my daughter!) and a full-length mirror, since there's only a small mirror above the sink in the bathroom. We want to look good at all times! This gull looks like he's laughing--probably because he saw us unloading the car when we arrived!

The fishing on Snowbank Lake is very good so there's an abundance of fish guts almost every day. They are collected each day in 5-gallon buckets and every morning Matt (the dock boy) heads off to "fish gut rock" in one of the fishing boats. I tried a couple of times to go along so I could get some picture of the eagles but they weren't very cooperative. On this particular day we only had a small amount of guts so not many birds came in. Once the guts are dumped and Matt backs the boat up the gulls come in first. They have to hurry because the eagles and ravens are just waiting for the boat to get a little farther out into the bay before they take over.

There are 8 eagles and a couple of ravens in this photo. I don't have a real great camera and it's hard to take decent pictures from a moving boat but this one turned out pretty good. Ruthie circled the eagles that are harder to see so no one has to hunt to find them. When the fishing is good there can be as many as 30 eagles in this area. It's really awesome to watch them come in and scrap for the best guts. Yummy! I guess you have to be a raptor to understand.

While we were on the opposite side of the bay, I was able to get this picture of a juvenile bald eagle and one of its parents sitting at the top of a jackpine. It was very cool!

The juvenile eagle hung around for a while so I could take some additional photos and this was the best of those. I love that you can see the "hook" on the tip of his beak.

On the morning we were leaving I could hear an eagle screeching very close by. I went out to take a look and he (or she) was at the top of a jackpine just south of our cabin. I really wanted a picture of this one since he was so close. My camera has quite a delay on it so I just kept snapping pictures from different angles and I got lucky enough to get this one. It looks like the eagle is looking right at me, probably wondering what the heck I'm doing out there in my pajamas!

There were a lot of other birds also and I was able to get this photo of a phoebe just outside our door. There were lots of them also and they are a lot of fun to watch. Hummingbirds are abundant on Snowbank also but they didn't cooperate for photos.

The place we stay is called Smitty's on Snowbank and it's about 20 miles east of Ely, nearly at the end of the road. You take the Fernberg road to get there and there's a beautiful overlook about halfway between Ely and Smitty's. We always stop there at least once to take a picture or two and this year was no different. The body of water is called Rookie Pond. Sometimes moose are spotted there but we've never seen one in that spot. The view here is absolutely gorgeous in the fall!

This year we came home via the North Shore because Kathy wanted to stop at the Duluth Zoo. No trip down the North Shore is complete without stopping to take a photo at Split Rock Lighthouse. I think this is one of the most beautiful spots in the entire state!

Thanks for coming along with me on my vacation. I hope you enjoyed the trip!
~~Nature Knitter's Sissy


jan m said...

How amazing to see so many eagles in one place! I have only ever seen one, in the wildlife refuge near us. Thanks for letting us go along on vacation!

Marsha said...

Great guest blogger post! How wonderful to see that many eagles in one place and Split Rock is one of my favorite places too!

Lynne said...

Nice post Sissy! It sounds like you've found a perfect vacation spot. I've only been to the Ely area once and would love to go back. Your eagle pictures are terrific.

Shellmo said...

Enjoyed the trip and photos! Especially of the eagles - how wonderful to see so many at one time!

Anonymous said...

Ruthie' sissy you don't have a pic of a loon, there were so many when you took me several years ago, I was thrilled to see them, it was a first for me. Thanks for taking us along on your vacation, it was so much fun to see the area around Smitty's again. I enjoyed the pics of the eagles and the gulls. Fish guts sounds like an interesting meal, but not for me.

11 prs of shoes for a vacation, WHOA!! The most shoes I've ever taken is 3 pr but I take 2 changes of clothes for each day, you never know when you will go out in the evening and want to look good.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad everyone is enjoying the pics. Mom, Kathy went out for a ride in a fishing boat with a guy from Chicago and she saw a loon with its babies, right up close! Unfortunately, she didn't have her camera along with her so no loon pics. The ones I saw were too far away for good shots.

Susan Gets Native said...

Great post, Ruth's Sis!
You northern gals are so spoiled when it comes to bald eagles! We, down here in the Ohio river valley, are lucky to see ONE family of them.
That picture of Rookie's Pond is gorgeous. Good bird habitat!

Jayne said...

What a great place! Thanks for taking us along Ruthie's sissy! So, uh, your blog will be up and running when??? ;c)

Anonymous said...

Glad you had a great time. The photos of the eagles are great. I guess yawning is common among all animal species haha.

She sure is strange! said...

My mouth is agape in awe of the beauty! Wowza!!! Too bad its such a drive from Texas, looks like a super place to relax.


Julie said...

Lovely pictures and thanks for sharing them with us!
You're making me eager for the first weekend in December. Its Eagle Days at Squaw Creek, about a 2 hr drive from here. The Eagles stop there to dine on snow geese. We've counted up to 180 eagles in a good year there, but some years the timing is off and the water freezes earlier. I'm going to look up their web site and consider a trip up there during the fall migration to check out other birds. Ruthie has me hooked, but I'm not complaining! I love this new hobby! Now, if only I could have a driver! Its hard to be the driver, spotter and photographer!

Meggie said...

Lovely photos, Sissy! And I do think you saved the best for last. The Diluth lighthouse is a beauty!

RuthieJ said...

Good job Sissy! Looks like we'll make a blogger out of you yet.....

Anonymous said...

Aw're all so nice :)
Thanks again for enjoying my photos. I've found that I have to make the 6-hour drive to Ely at least once a year to recharge my batteries. If I could imagine what heaven is like it would be the Boundary Waters--with NO bugs. Ha!

Mary C said...

That was fun tagging along with you on your vacation. Thanks for sharing it with us. And I trust you had a great time.

Mary said...

Thank YOU for sharing it with us, Sissy. The scenery is so beautiful and those eagles are so grand!