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Anything outdoors!  Tornadoes, eagles, blizzards, or auroras.  If it is in the sky, running through the woods or swimming in the water, I'm there!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Koochiching County Bobcat and a Super Close Up Eagle

As my regular readers know I spend a lot of time during the non-storm season poking around in the forests, swamps and river bottoms in central and northern Minnesota. Just like in storm chasing, sometimes dumb luck overcomes everything else. Well, on my personal EF-scale I scored an EF5 long-track wedge in the Pine Island State Forest Wilderness of far northern Minnesota in Koochiching county on February 16th.

eagle statue in Remer, MN photo 20130216-_D3C9734_zpsdce5184c.jpg

Melinda wanted to visit her sister who lives near Deer River in Itasca county. I always get excited when this trip comes up as is allows me to head even further north into the wilderness without wasting a day just getting there. In less than an hour I am looking out the window and hundreds of thousands of acres of uninhabited perfection. On the way up I had to pull over to get a shot of the eagle statue in Remer, MN. Kind of odd as this is where the Mid Minnesota 150 sled dog race finishes but after all these years of being there for the end of the race I had never taken a picture of this which is directly across the road. Well, I can cross this shot off the bucket list.

Drving the logging roads looking for critters photo 20130216-DSC_0017_zps7597c905.jpg

My son joined us for this trip. Having him being able to drive is a huge help. A second set of eyes and it allows me to get even more distracted looking for critters.

Wilderness southwest of International Falls photo 20130216-DSC_0016_zpsb592739d.jpg

We spent the late afternoon driving the plowed logging roads (and hoping we didn't meet any logging trucks back in the bush as the roads are very narrow).

Kooching county bobcat photo 20130216-_D3C9759_zps7404654d.jpg

Cullen spotted something go flying across the road in a single leap. Yup...a bobcat.

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The cat made it obvious it wasn't going to hang around long before disappearing into the thick forest along the road.

Kooching county bobcat photo 20130216-_D3C9760_zps4491680d.jpg

I was able to get few shots with the D300 / Sigma 50-500 combo.

Kooching county bobcat photo 20130216-_D3C9761_zps713e7ca2.jpg

The right place at the right time! What a beautiful animal! Growing up we hunted bobcats around Staples, MN. Most of them were just kind of a dull brown with out a lot of good markings. The cat has some of the best markings I have seen on one from Minnesota.

Dam on the Missisippi River at Lake Winnie photo 20130217-DSC_0020_zpsc662dc8f.jpg

The next day I made a solo swing up to Lake Winnie. This is the dam where where Mississippi River ends it's flow through the lakes and becomes more of a river and less of a moving slough.

Koochiching county eagle photo 20130217-_D3C9901_zps18cace53.jpg

Along the way I found an eagle which was very busy working on picking up the remains of a deer carcass along the road. People always ask me how can an eagle get hit by a car, This is how.

Koochiching county eagle photo 20130217-_D3C9920_zps60a076ea.jpg

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Koochiching county eagle photo 20130217-_D3C9875_zpse759fcac.jpg

Koochiching county eagle photo 20130217-_D3C9898_zps7b92d4bb.jpg

I hung out watching the eagle for about 15 minutes. Periodically other vehicle would come whizzing by. The eagle would simply raise it's wings as if preparing for flight but would hold it's claim on the food as the ravens and other eagles complained from the trees behind it.

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Eagle east of Wirt, MN (probably Google that one....lol)

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One the eagles who was not brave enough to come feed on that deer carcass with me nearby. By the look of the face, I would say it already got something to eat.

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This eagle was a LONG ways away but it is kind of a personal best. If this eagle took off and flew with the wind maybe 100 yards, it would be a Candian bald eagle. Just outside of International Falls, MN.

Icicles in Big Falls, MN photo 20130217-_D3C9935_zps80f5645c.jpg

Enough of the critters. 8 foot long icicles in Big Fork, MN.

Big Falls, MN photo 20130217-_D3C9934_zps6db5b513.jpg

Recommend these guys 100%. If you either want to do a day trip along the Big Fork River in northern MN, check 'em out. They also can do shuttle service for multi-day trips either from Big Falls up to the Canadian border or go upstream back to Big Falls.

Littlefork, MN photo 20130217-_D3C9938_zpsfe5797ac.jpg

One guess where I was when I took this shot.

MN 1 in St Louis county photo 20130217-_D3C9945_zps125845cd.jpg

And last but not least. Every Minnesotan (or if you are looking for a really cool road trip if visiting MN) should drive MN 1 from Tettegouche State Park on Lake Superior through Ely over along the south shore of Lower Red Lake over to Warren, MN ending at the Red River of the North on the North Dakota Border. The change in terrain and scenery is awesome. I would recommend late September but I like the winter too as there is an incredible amount of wildlife to be seen!

On the weather front. looks like we will be picking up several inches of new snow over the next few days. Bring it! Active winters lead to active springs....or at least one can hope!

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