Friday, June 22, 2007

Bears Bears Bears...

My name is Kate, and I’m a new blogger on the site. I am a summer naturalist here at Gunflint, focusing mostly on kids’ activities and crafts. Though I have only been here about three weeks, there’s been an immense amount of seeing and doing, and I can tell that it applies to more people than just me.
Maybe what stands out the most to me so far is the amount and involvement of wildlife up here. There has been evidence of a bear from the previous night almost every morning, not to mention the fact that the wildlife sighting notebook has something new in it just about every time I look at it, from turtles to moose to eagles to bears. Guests and staff also have a wide variety of stories to tell about a past or recent experience with wildlife. A guest on a wildflower hike this morning mentioned that a few trashcans outside her cabin had been tipped over and pawed around in. And just today I cleaned up trash that a bear had dug through right outside the nature center. I will say that I am really glad that these are black bears and usually easy to scare away, and even gladder that I haven’t had any close encounters with them. In fact, I haven’t even seen one here on the property yet. Though this almost counts…
Just the other day I was putting out hummingbird feeders around the property. I felt kind of silly, because I was standing up on chairs to reach the hooks for the feeders right in front of windows where guests were sitting. The next morning, though, there were paw prints from a bear on his hind legs that very night in the exact same spot that I had been standing. How funny! Luckily none of the feeders were torn down.
There’s been a lot of seeing and doing happening with children, too. This past week I have been privileged enough to work with some really articulate, smart kids. The first ever Bug Safari took place with Matthew, Wyatt, and Stazs the other day, when we went around with nets catching all sorts of spiders, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, and the like. The kids had a great time exploring the many different kinds of bugs around and learning to look at them and set them free again.
The wilderness seems to be its good old self- unstoppable as far as growth and full of secrets. There are already huge patches of green on the other side of the lake, which was hit hard by the Ham Lake Fire. It seems as though this Minnesota vegetation just can’t be stopped; it is forever on its way in and forever on its way out. Always changing and moving, always with something new to see.
On another note, if I were to give a bug report I would probably say that mosquitoes still aren’t too bad, and the black flies and ticks are still around but waning. No-seeums are rare but intrusive, as well as pine beetles (who knew something with that name would be after people?). If you are on your way up, be sure you bring your bug spray, and also be sure to check out all the new naturalist programs John outlined in his last post. I’m sure I’ll be back with another post soon, but until then I hope all is well in your neck of the woods.

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