There have been a lot of reports of an owl irruption in Duluth lately.
For quite a while, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled, and finally, I was rewarded with this Boreal Owl that was hunting along the Lester River:
It flew right over me and was obviously listening for something:
I managed to take a lot of bad pictures (the camera can’t tell the difference between a tree branch and an owl), but at least these two came out all right.
Finally, the owl decided that whatever it was hearing had hunkered down, and it flew off.
I haven’t seen many owls, so this was a special treat.
Took a stroll through Lester Park in the morning, instead of my normal afternoon/evening. Cool to see things in different light.
Here’s a nice big white cedar down in the main playground area:
Lester Park is great, because there are some really big old trees that seem to have escaped the logging that was happening all around this area early in the 20th century. Common wisdom says that this lower section of Lester Park is old growth, although I wonder about that. I suppose it’s possible that these are actually second growth trees that are 100 – 150 years old, and that have been growing after first being logged when the Duluth area was initially settled. It’s just hard for me to imagine that so much lumber, so close to the lake would have been left. Doesn’t seem like forbearance was part of the culture of that time. On the other hand, everyone seems to agree that this is an ‘old growth’ forest, from the city of Duluth to NRRI to local historians.
Maybe my definition of ‘old growth’ is too exclusive?
White pine seed dispersion, via the foamy Lester River:
Over on the other side of the park, the Amity Creek wasn’t as foamy:
Old growth, second growth, or just good growth, I can certainly say that I am lucky to be so close to a treasure like Lester Park.
The atmospheric conditions were just right, and there was a very localized little band of fog right over the Lester River:
Just a couple blocks away, the scene was altogether different:
I call this one ‘Maya on the Tracks.’
Duluth is a nice place to live.
The Lester River is good and frozen right now.
We’ve had a couple nights of below-zero temperatures, which has frozen the river all the way through, and then forced the flowing water up over the top, making for some beautiful and glassy surfaces.
And occasionally, there are a few surprises hidden below the surface:
Here’s the Lester River, just below The Shallows:
It’s funny, because there are sections where the ice is so smooth, you want to run back home to get your ice skates. Then, there are cratered and pocked segments that are all but impassible. And occasionally, you’ll find a nice 40′ long section of real snow, and then you want to go back and get your skis. This doggone low-snow winter has been challenging for a winter lover.
On the other hand, you get to see a lot of stuff that you might not normally get to see.
Sensual lines in rocks and the ice:
This is great – the ice is normal, regular ice on top – flat and hard. Underneath, though, it’s a wild explosion of crystals:
In the summer, this is a little waterfall. Maybe three feet high. Now, in winter, it’s beautifully terraced series of tiny steps too slippery for any feet:
It also reminds me a little of scalloped potatoes – the way they all stack on each other.
If this were a normal winter, I wouldn’t spend much time on the river – I’d be out skiing on groomed trails, sweating and going too fast to see these little details.
It’s good to get out and see my stomping grounds in this unique winter. To find the positive in what might otherwise cause me to grouch.
Never a bad day when you’re outside.
There’s a lot going on around Lester Park right now.
Most exciting to me is the Lakewalk Extension:
Of all the projects that have been happening in Duluth, the Lakewalk seems to be one that is universally lauded. Everyone likes it. I think it’s great, having a safe place to run/walk/ride. I will definitely be using the Lakewalk (and already have, where it currently starts down by Sammy’s Pizza) to ride to work.
Going past Jubilee, I wanted to see what they were doing with the Lester River Bridge, right before London Road pours out onto Highway 61. A couple years ago, a trucker had a heart attack at the wheel and died, and his truck crashed into the lake side of this bridge. I assumed that MNDoT fixed everything that needed fixing at that time, but obviously not. They have removed the road down to the foundation and are rebuilding everything, as well as redoing all the brickwork. This is the upstream side of the bridge:
On the downstream side, they’ve placed ‘turbidity abatement’ devices, also known as ‘Tough Guy Type 2’:
It’s kind of funny seeing these analogs to the huge oil containment booms being used along the Gulf Coast. These are maybe 16′ long, and hardly seem like they would be stopping much of anything. I’m suppose a token effort is better than no effort at all.
And lastly, here’s a nice picture of a feather, floating out into the big lake: