Hooray it's May!
May is one of our favorite months here at the Interlaken Haus! Spring continues to excel as trees start to bud, plants keep on growing, the weather begins warming up, and signs of new life pop up everywhere. As people who love to watch for birds and other wildlife, it doesn’t get much better than May.
Many birds continue to migrate North and make it to the state of Minnesota in the month of May. This Spring we’ve had a little more excitement than previous ones and are eager to keep track of the beautiful birds we see around the house and beyond. We’ve had Orioles before but this May they’ve stuck around longer and in larger numbers than ever before. They are such beautiful birds and so fun to watch as they pick at the oranges we’ve put up, sing harmonious songs, and dart around the yard.
One bird that has particularly stood out to us this month is the Scarlet Tanager. Though we’ve had a pair of Cardinals flashing their red here and there, this tanager has brought a whole new perspective on the deep red hue and vibrancy that this bird brings out.
The female scarlet tanager on the other hand is one that could be easily missed as the olive yellow feathers tend to blend in the newly brightened green leaves budding on the trees. Such is a life of birding though! All colors and sizes seem to present themselves in different variations when comparing males and females. Which is why our love for birding has taught us to learn bird calls as we uncover new and different birds among the Interlaken Haus.
May also kicked off our canoe season! While we have found much to appreciate from every season, we certainly look forward to getting back on the water and exploring all that the lakes and rivers have to offer from the surface.
The first canoe was loaded with anticipation and did not disappoint. We pushed off from the boat launch at one of our local favorites, Pennington Mine Lake. This is a part of the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, an area of former mining pits that have since become beautiful lakes with an array of wildlife and recreation opportunities. Perhaps one of the best canoeing areas to soak up clear waters, loons, and interconnecting lakes.
If we are able to get ourselves up early enough, the morning paddle is quite possibly the most peaceful and calming activity one could hope to do on the weekends. The loons call as you glide through the water, and they don’t seem to mind sharing the space with you as they dart around the canoe in search of fish.
We were lucky enough to spot a wonderful mama building up her nest around her precious egg. This is such an important moment to capture. A loon life can be extremely difficult as loons don’t have the ability to be on land like other birds.
Their nests need to be carefully and considerately built to not allow predators to snatch their eggs. Often built along the banks of lakes (or out on lakes if there are areas to build upon), the loon has a LOT to balance. Water of course floods in the spring, so nests cannot be built up too high to keep the water in.
They also have to choose a lake that can produce enough of a food source to raise their young throughout the coming months, as loon babies will not be able to fly for approximately 75 days after they hatch. And because lakes tend to be so very open and vulnerable (to fishermen and other species), it can be a tall order to pick just the right spot.
Another great spring moment for us was to have some one-on-one with the great blue heron. So often this bird is aloof and flies away before we can get any good quality time with it. But the chance to watch it fish for a long hour, at times even walk towards us, was exciting and made us realize that this bird has patience! The quietness of this bird and cautious movements are unparalleled. Slowly the legs will creep through shallow water, head ducking low, when suddenly “SPLASH!” It makes its move in an instant, diving headfirst in the water and pulling up the fish in its tough bills. And as fast as it dove, it swallows the prey whole, down the long neck it goes. Sure the heron may ruffle a few feathers as almost to say, “Alright, ready for the next.” As a photographer it is incredible to watch their tactic, but the camera can become a heavy weight as you patiently wait for it to make its next move.
We also had the privilege of capturing some moments between Mama woodchuck and her littles. This time of the year when new life is learning to walk, eat, and explore, is just an honor to be a part of.
These little ones were playful and rambunctious, and taught us how very patient mom must be to put up with them crawling all over her and wanting her attention. She was so good to nurse them while staying in ‘alert’ mode to make sure they retrieved to the den as soon as danger was afoot. She also had to allow them to be curious and to learn the ropes of the area, so it never ceases to amaze us of this incredible parental balance.
Again, with every season there is a masterful process at work. It tells us there are some incredible intricate workings of this wilderness that allow both wildlife and nature to work together for each other’s benefit.
Here at the Interlaken Haus, we have worked to create an environment to allow these two to work together, and have benefited immensely. We hope that you do the same.