Still lots of ice on the big northern Minnesota lakes

With the May 10 Minnesota walleye opener less than three weeks away, the lingering question among anglers and others with an interest in the big event is whether the ice is going to be off the lakes by opening day.

Satellite photo of Lake of the Woods (top) and Upper and Lower Red lakes taken Tuesday.

In the northern half of the state, it’s going to be a long shot, methinks.

The attached photo shows a satellite view of Lake of the Woods and Upper and Lower Red lakes taken Tuesday. As the Lake of the Woods image at the top shows, the Rainy River now is open through the channel in Four-Mile Bay, but the rest of the big lake remains locked in ice.

Ditto for Upper and Lower Red lakes. There appears to be some open water in the narrows between the two lakes, and the Tamarack River that flows into Upper Red at Waskish, Minn., is open but ice dominates the horizon on both bodies of water.

If I was a betting man, I’d put money on Lake of the Woods still having ice on opening day. There probably won’t be enough for ice fishing — as a group of us did off Graceton Beach in 1996 — but there’ll certainly be large patches of ice floating around.

Last year, the ice on Lake of the Woods and Upper Red went out on May 15. Will it be just as late this year? Stay tuned.

Rare bird visitor to UMC marks a first for Polk County

The University of Minnesota-Crookston reported this morning that a Eurasian tree sparrow made a stop on the campus this week.

A Eurasian tree sparrow (lower left) and a house sparrow (upper right) share space this week at the bird feeder in the Nature Nook on the University of Minnesota-Crookston campus. Photo by John Zak, UMC University Relations.

According to a UMC news release, the sighting of the bird in the Nature Nook near Owen Hall is the first record for Polk County and only the ninth in Minnesota.

Known for its chocolate-colored crown and black throat and cheeks, the sparrow is commonly found around St. Louis.

In the UMC news release, Vanessa Lane, a lecturer in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department, noted that it is “unusual for this non-native species to be spotted so far from its home in Missouri.”

‘Mostly clear’ in GF forecast for overnight lunar eclipse

Despite the snow that was falling outside the window a few minutes ago, the weather forecast in the Grand Forks area is looking favorable for the total lunar eclipse that is set to occur in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

Being somewhat of a night owl, I’ll probably venture out to see what I can see, perhaps with Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” playing on my iPod. It would be the perfect combination for a lunar eclipse, methinks.

According to “Astro Bob” of Duluth who writes a blog on “celestial happenings you can see from your backyard,” the show will get started about 12:20 a.m. CDT, and the total eclipse will begin at 2:07 a.m.

Astro Bob also is a photographer for the Duluth News Tribune, a Forum Communications newspaper and one of the Herald’s sister papers.

I checked the Grand Forks forecast on Intellicast, which offers an hour-by-hour summary of weather conditions, and the sky is supposed to be “mostly clear” from midnight through 5 a.m. It’ll be chilly, though, with temps in the high teens.

For more info about the eclipse, check out Astro Bob’s blog here.