Sugarloaf Naturalist Margie Menzies Reports

June 8, 2012 Comments Off on Sugarloaf Naturalist Margie Menzies Reports

Margaret Menzies’ Memorial Day Weekend Report 2012

Hello Summer! We had a beautiful day on Friday of Memorial Day Weekend.

I pulled in, opened the Visitor Center and began uploading stuff.  Within moments I  had a crisis on my hands. A male Ruby-throated hummingbird followed me into the building,  and expressed his displeasure regarding his missing hummingbird feeder.  I opened  all the doors and hoped that he would eventually come down out of the rafters and find his way out.  I  heated  water and dissolved the sugar to fill the  feeder. No amount of encouragement with the broom deterred him from his back and forth pathway along the roof rafters.  Placement of the now full feeder outside the window had no effect on the high ceiling route of the hummer.

Left with little alternative but to hope for the best, I continued opening up  for the summer, shifting and organizing and rejoicing in the very clean Nature Center.  Thanks to the  Sugarloaf Board Members who had their quarterly meeting the week before, and did some deep cleaning!

One of the most visible new features at the Cove is a huge timber-frame storage shed.  It was built at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, .  It was hauled along the wilderness highland back roads above Lutsen, Tofte, and Schroeder, too big to bring down Highway 61. The working board members and others moved as much of the big stuff as possible out of the “office space” and into the shed.

Friday was a day of steady traffic from visitors.   I often was asked, “Did you know you have a hummingbird in the Nature Center?” Hours later I was losing hope.  Fearing  he would wear himself out before he found his exit,  I sat down at the desk for the first time all afternoon to jot down some notes and was promptly buzzed by the hummer.  Hope returned in a flash.  I reasoned that once down from the heights he would see there were other possibilities for finding his way out. Yahoo, he started checking out the windows,  even checking the one with the feeder on the other side. Eventually he found the door and buzzed on out of the Nature Center. Some advice to those of you who might find yourself in a similar predicament. Find the gaudiest, most colorful garment that you have, change clothes and have a seat in sight of the misplaced bird. I was wearing a brightly colored tie-dyed shirt and apparently looked enough like potential sustenance to lure him out of the endless loop of the up means out instinct of birdom.

Saturday far exceeded expectations with weather remaining dry and pleasant,  long past the time predicted for showers and thunderstorms. There were many visitors, and a wonderful turnout for the geology program. I had time enough to check the status of blooming wildflowers;   white, yellow and purple violets blooming along with marsh marigolds;  mertensia, bunchberry, Canada mayflower, and wild sarsaparilla. Late in the afternoon,  the winds picked up and a very cool northeast breeze blew  directly off the lake.

Thunderstorms and rain eventually arrived early on Sunday morning. Rain put the kibosh on the hoped bird banding for the day.  The pounding waves on the shore provided a bit of compensation. Crashing and pounding continued through the night,  though the roar was broken by competition in the form of a whip-poor-will. It is yet to be determined if this bird has taken up residence or was merely passing through.

Monday morning brought a reprieve from the high winds, but pounding waves continued through the day. A morning hike on the trail yielded an incredible list of 38 species of birds, 13 of which were warbler species. Warbler central this morning, as birds busily flitted about.  No doubt it was welcome break from the hunkered-down, trying-to-stay-dry conditions of the previous couple of days. No sign of the merlins since April.  I fear they have moved on to other locations this year, but am assured that the nearby peregrine falcon pair are sitting on eggs.

(Editor’s note:  Draft text written by Margaret, with minor changes and additions by Dave Carlson)