Monday, November 29, 2010

Minnesota Valley

The second unit, going from north to south, in the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is the Black Dog Lake unit. It consists of 1400 acres around Black Dog Lake, which flows from the Minnesota River on its eastern side. Much of the land is owned by Excel Energy which has a power plant in the middle of the unit.
Black Dog Lake is a great place to visit in the winter time. It is one of the few places in the Twin Cities where the water does not completely freeze up, because the power plant is continuously pouring in hot water. The open water is a draw for many different types of birds, I have seen many types of ducks, geese, swans, belted kingfisher and eagles in this unit during the winter.
Last winter ended rather abruptly with most of the lakes and rivers in the state thawing in a week or two. This caused a lot of problems with the rivers around here. As you can see the Minnesota rose up over its banks and flooded a big chunk of the Black Dog unit.
Even after the water finally subsided it took a long time, months, before they completely opened the road that runs through this unit. The road was covered with silt and other debris from the river. It seemed more like walking down a beach then walking down a road. Once the road was finally cleared off they still kept it close because they needed to do some repairs, as the road was in even worse shape then before.
The road closure made things more difficult as one of the osprey nests that I was watching in the summer was off of Black Dog Road. The osprey have a nest on one of the transition towers that hold the lines coming from the power station. Since the tower is a little ways out in the lake it was necessary to bring my scope and tripod to try and read the bands. The scope and tripod in addition to my normal camera equipment made for a long walk out to view the nest.
Fortunately there was a lot of wildlife to greet me and make the burden of carting all of that equipment much lighter. One day I found a fox sparrow scratching its way through the scrub.
Another day the sweet song of the indigo bunting helped to quicken my step and brighten my mood on my way back to my car.

10 comments:

Sylvia K said...

What a fantastic place! Your captures of the birds are breathtaking as always! Wonderful look at your world! Have a great week!

Sylvia

Rosadimaggio63 said...

Hi
grandi foto !
Meravigliosi questi uccelli.
La natura รจ veramente fantastica... molto bello il tuo mondo !
Buona serata :)
Myriam

Jossie said...

Beautiful place. You show us some mighty beautiful birds.

lotusleaf said...

Lovely captures of the birds. I enjoyed reading about them.

Dina said...

Beautiful shots of the birds, especially the eagle. It's funny to see the ice. It makes me glad I live in Florida.

ladyfi said...

Wow - marvellous photos. Love the eagle and that cheerful blue bunting.

Lawstude said...

wow. the eagle look so majestic. i love the smaller birds too. thanks for sharing your world with us.

tammymcchesney said...

Very cool captures...love the clarity and details in all of these beauties! I love Mn for it's different species of birds...such a beautiful area!

BraCom (Bram) said...

Beautiful My World Tuesday posting

Have a nice week,
Greetings, Bram

Link to My Word Tuesday post!

Seen on My World Tuesday

Brooks Rownd said...

The adjacent marshy SNA area is the only place I've ever found a shrike.

Wish I could visit MN more often... *sigh*