Explore the Bog!

An intro into birding and wildlife photography in Sax-Zim Bog

By Ceasar Ortega

When I was younger I was weirdly interested in birds, they have always been fascinating creatures to me. With so many different species and sub species it is always a treat to see one that you have never seen before. It was an interest I never really pursued directly, for years I remained a distant admirer.

A male pine grosbeak

However, after recently visiting Sax-Zim Bog I was floored by how much diversity is actually there and how close you are able to really get to it. I am, by far, not the best with a camera but even with my level of skill I was able to get some amazing shots and walked away happy; and pretty cold too since I picked the coldest day of the year to go out for a photo shoot! My guide, Clinton Dexter Nienhaus, was extremely informative and a pleasure to spend the afternoon with. From him I learned about everything to expect in the bog throughout the year and the truly amazing level of biodiversity that exists within it, everything from insects and lichen unique to arctic climates to finches, owls, wolves, wild cats, and weasels.

A blurry little redpoll

Although I was unable to catch a shot of the owl that I was hoping to get I found a variety of cold climate birds, we also followed some wolf tracks and checked out a tree overgrown with various species of lichen all within the span of an hour and a half on just one stretch of trail!

A boreal chickadee

I will definitely be returning in the summer, especially for the Bio Blitz that will be held in August 2023, with more equipment and a more temperate climate to see what else I can find and to capture what makes this area very special to me: the absolutely stunning scenery and wildlife. There are many things that make the area special to me, but as someone who has only recently come to the Iron Range the wildlife stands as a resolute reminder as to what I was missing while living in the city; untarnished natural beauty that cannot be replicated and that lives just beyond our backyard.

There are quite a lot of birdwatchers and nature photographers who capture some amazing natural scenes at Sax-Zim Bog (myself not yet included, but maybe with more practice) and many of their shots can be found at the Friends of Sax-Zim Bog FB page that I encourage everyone to check out! Besides great shots they also keep their upcoming events up to date so if you would like to join in on a tour while space is available you can make plans early!

Editor’s Note: The bog does contain some walking trails, but most of the viewing is on/along dirt roads. If you are birding there PLEASE be aware that people live in the bog (it is not an official park) and use the roads. If you stop, pull over as far as you can on the correct side of the road. Don’t make travel dangerous for residents or other visitors. If you have questions about visiting the bog, contact them through Facebook or their website.

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