Driving back from the prairies, I stopped by the Twin Cities to do a little more birding and spend the night. I’m headed to Wisconsin, but since there’s only one of me I decided to break up the driving. Besides, it gave me a chance to stop at one of my favorite parks in the Twin Cities area, Murphy-Hanrehan. I love this place. It has great trails through fields, forests, and along the shores of a lake. I spent a couple hours in the evening and the next morning exploring.
Henslow’s Sparrow and Cerulean Warbler were the avian highlights. I also stopped to watch this turtle dig a hole and lay some eggs.
This morning I also spent some time at Falls Creek State Natural Area, which was just beautiful. The running creek and the abundant bird song made for a magical soundtrack to my walk through the woods. I also saw Louisiana Waterthrush, Acadian Flycatcher, and a mama (or daddy) Wood Thrush feeding a begging baby.
Heading east, I came to the mighty Mississippi River at the Minnesota-Wisconsin border.
The geology of this area is just incredible. Those of you back in Washington state might be familiar with glacial lake Missoula, and its role in creating ice age era flows that carved and sculpted the landscape of Eastern Washington (e.g. Dry Falls, for one spectacular example). Ancient Minnesota also was glaciated (most recently about 12,000 years ago) – with glacial lake Duluth serving a somewhat similar role here in MN/WI. As the glaciers melted, the resulting ginormous floods carved out many unique geological features here, including these potholes – also called giant’s kettles. The potholes are deep round depressions (up to 30 feet across) carved in the rock due to the action of the water at the bottom of a glacial river. When these enormous rivers surged past giant boulders, eddies and whirlpools formed in the wake. These eddies over time carved out circular depressions in the soft sandstone.
Some of them are large enough to climb down inside!
On to Wisconsin! Next: Crex Meadows…