Sunday, April 09, 2006

Gunflint Lodge

There have been many new signs of spring appearing over the last two weeks. I saw my first robins of the year at about the same time as I heard my first red-winged blackbirds. The crows have also journeyed here from the southern part of the state to join their relatives; the ravens, blue jays, and gray jays for the summer. Last week, I saw my first snow bunting, brilliantly colored in his bright white and black breeding plumage. A few days ago, several gulls appeared and are currently waiting for the lakes to thaw.

When I reached down to point out the club mosses along the trail on a recent hike to Lonely Lake, I noticed that as I touched one, the yellow spores were released in a small, billowy cloud. Club mosses are ancient relatives of the ferns who maintain their green color throughout the year. Many scientists believe that the club mosses were once the size of trees, and were around before the dinosaurs. Now, they are less than a foot tall.

The lakes and streams of the area are starting to lose their ice. Most of the streams are flowing freely with a layer of ice above or below the rushing water. The ice on Lonely Lake is breaking away from the edges, and there is only thin, dark ice over the springs. Gunflint Lake’s ice is still solid in places, but getting very thin in others. When I climbed up to the top of the high cliffs a few days ago, I noticed that the areas of open water around the Gunflint Narrows, and the mouth of the Cross River have drastically increased in recent days.

Have a wonder week, and enjoy the many signs of spring.

John Silliman
Gunflint Lodge Naturalist

1 comment:

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