If there’s one type of animal in the natural world I like more than birds it’s the great predators. Today was a magical way to end a great trip in Minnesota. We made it back to Duluth last night though Davis was forced to drive through a blizzard. This morning we ventured out to try one last time for Bohemian Waxwings. With everybody’s help we located a small flock of 22 birds. Bingo! Rack em’ up! Year bird number 347. We then worked St. Louis and Superior Bays on Lake Superior for Snowy Owls, which I missed. This was another chink in my ironclad plan.
Anyway, we decided to wrap it up and head to the airport when we noticed a small area of ice-free water in Superior Bay; close to shore and next to an industrial yard filled with two large mounds of sand and a mound of darker tufa type material. As I got out of the car, I immediately spotted four Black Ducks (a good year-bird for me). Another “little thing”. I screamed and hollered and rushed to the back of the car to grab my scope. As I returned Bill V. is shouting and describing a location as he intensely holds his binoculars. Snowy Owl? Gyrfalcon? Fifteen seconds later he asks us if we saw them. Three wolfs had run in between the three large mounds probably made aware of us by my whooping and hollering. The rest of us hadn’t seen them, but we decided to hop into the car and drive into the industrial yard to see if we could relocate them Luck was with us and the gate was open. We jumped out of the SUV. Davis went left, Bill ran center left and Jim & I headed to the right where we climbed to the top of the small grassy hill to gain better visibility. Two minutes later, Jim turned around and raised his binoculars looking left of my left shoulder. “They’re on the ice! There on the ice!” Two of the Gray Wolves had struck out on the ice running towards the Wisconsin side a mile away.
A minute later the third wolf jumped on to the ice to join the rest of the pack. It turns out that Bill had come upon them and flushed them on to the ice. Two immediately bolted, but the third wolf hesitated. What a great look. Two were standard gray in color, the third darker though not black. It was awesome to see them running with their tails straight out as wolfs do. This was the best non-bird of the year (in the quest for a thousand) and an absolutely fabulous end to our winter trip to Minnesota.