I am having a severe case of spring fever and spending every moment outdoors that I can.
Any day now we should wake to bird song, as robins, song sparrow and red-winged black birds return, and ruffed grouse drumming.
Any sunny afternoon now should appear the first overwintering butterflies, normally a compton's tortoiseshell or morning cloak.
Maples are being taped and the sap runs with freezing nights and thawing days. The sap was boiled down by the natives and made into sugar, thus the term sugar bush. We mainly use it as syrup now.
As I was crossing Shingobee Lake the other day, I found a Headwaters chilostigman caddisfly crawling on the snow, near a spring. I first misidentified it as a stonefly until someone corrected me, and upon research, I found it was first discovered to science in 1974 at Itasca State Park. So, unknowingly, I found a rare species and helped establish its home range.
The Shingobee flowage is still pretty much as wild as it was hundreds of years ago, and one of the last pristine watersheds left in the area. Without over-manicured lawns to the shoreline, it is still lined with grass, brush and trees – and due to lots of natural vegetation and clean water – Shingobee Lake has what I believe to be the most diverse area in the state. Due to the glaciers ending here and soils and habitats changing every few 100 feet, it is home to many of the area’s rare and endangered critters and plants. Here, I have found several rare dragonflies, with some cool names, like the first Cyrano darner I caught was only the second-ever recorded in the state. Some of the other colorful dragons I found here are American rubyspot, zebra clubtail, rusty snaketail, twin-spotted spiketail, and Lilypad clubtails.
Last summer, a green grass snake and several rare fish species were found by my dock, like the pugnose shiner, least darter and northern long-eared sunfish.
Its bogs and fens have several species of orchids. It’s also a migration route for many birds and animals, all giving proof to the importance of keeping remaining wild places wild.
An outdoorsman all his life, Dallas Hudson grew up in Akeley. He tracks the birds, animals, insects, plants of northern Minnesota in his daily journals. Hudson shares his nature observations and photos with KAXE’s Season Watch, the Minnesota Phenology Network and the Park Rapids Enterprise. He works at an official field camp of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on Shingobee Lake, near Akeley.