August 22, 2018
On this week’s Ruttger’s Nature Excursion we alerted our group of Bass Lake Nature Trail hikers that our sightings at this time of the season may include blooming Asters along the trail, a possible visit from a Solitary Sandpiper in the sandy areas of the retention pond, or song-bird migrants beginning their journeys south to warmer climes.
The best unanticipated sighting of all however was by observant Adam (Ruttger’s Guest) who alerted us all to mammals swimming in Bass Lake, heads surfacing, bodies undulating beneath the surface, along the shoreline near us, easily seen even without binoculars: Three River Otters! A mother and her two pups were hunting the lily pads and playing on logs, because we all know; if it’s not fun, otters won’t do it!
An otter is perfectly adapted for its environment. It swims by propelling itself with its powerful ‘rudder’ tail and flexing body. Notice the webbed feet, plus its fur is water repellent to keep it warm and dry, while nostrils and ears close in the water. It can hold its breath underwater for estimated eight minutes.
A group of River Otters can be called a ‘romp’ or a ‘lodge’, but when they are out swimming together they are called a ‘raft’. Their sounds, distinctive “chips”, were heard from the pups as they searched for their mother when they climbed onto a fallen tree near the beaver lodge. Thankfully, the two pups stayed long enough for LeAnn to get some photos.
Thanks to Adam and all our attentive hikers for making these excursions around Bass Lake so much fun. And remember; be observant for nature’s miracles, they’re all around us!
LeAnn and Ron
August 1, 2018
As we settle into the later stages of summer in the Northland, the activity along the Ruttger’s Nature Trail continues to reward the observant nature lover. Watch for the first of the shorebirds starting their August migration south. Solitary Sandpipers can be seen along shorelines searching for invertebrates, snails and slugs.
The MN State bird, the Common Loon (those who did not find a mate and reproduce) start to congregate in groups and spend their days fishing in preparation of their upcoming migration. Vigilant Trumpeter Swans are busy protecting their cygnets (young swans) as they continue to grow and start to build their flight muscles by flapping their wings many times a day.
Other birds such as Song Sparrows and Flycatchers can be seen along lily pads of Bass Lake foraging for scrumptious bugs. Watch for recently emerged Meadowhawk dragonflies cruising overhead gobbling up those pesky mosquitoes. The last of this year’s Purple Martin chicks can be seen poking their heads out of the Martin house awaiting their parent’s delivery of muscle-building, protein-filled flying insects.
Watch your step as you explore around Bass Lake, you may encounter a variety of fungi (mushrooms) including Boletes emerging from beneath pine needles carpeting the trail or shelf fungi growing from fallen hardwoods.
Thanks for reading and being observant of all natures’ wonders!
Ron & LeAnn