Moose, Northern Lights, Fall Colors and a 2023 Calendar Preview of Minnesota North Shore Wonders

It’s been a spectacular fall this 2022 season. We had a brief, early start in September, with nice weather leading into a peak color season that lingered well into October. The shore was especially vibrant, it seemed, this fall. There seemed to be a proper “peak” that encompassed the whole forest for a week or more. Often times, the reds and higher country will have come and gone before the areas near Lake Superior have peaked, but things seemed to synch up for a spell. I’ll include a few photos I haven’t posted yet. I’ve also had a lot of moose encounters so far this fall. The mating season, or “rut, has come and gone for the most part and moose can often be found grouped up, just hanging around together for a few weeks after mating. I’ve captured a few moose photos this fall that I really like. A couple even made it into the 2023 calendar! We’ve also had a few signs of the coming winter, which could begin any day in the northland! Some areas of the North Shore woods have already seen some snow and definitely a few good frosts. It’s made for some nice photo opportunities, extending the fall color photo season even longer 🙂 Add in a few northern lights displays earlier this fall, and it’s been hard to beat. I’ve added a few photos from those displays in this post too. We even picked up a rare SAR arc in the night sky which I’ll include a picture or two of.


The soft, tranquil silence of the first snow fall in Superior National Forest
My 2023 calendar is for sale! Thank you all for the support each year. I really appreciate each and every purchase. I’ve included beautiful Lake Superior, some moose out in Superior National Forest, some other wildlife and some northern lights over the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. See the links I’ve included.

Here is a little preview of my 2023 calendar I have for sale. You’ll see northern lights over the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, massive Minnesota moose in Superior National Forest, a few of Lake Superior’s seasonal moods and a few other surprises and landscapes. I don’t like to spam you all too much or too often, but a few times a year I have an offering like the calendars that I’ll promote through the holidays 🙂 I always appreciate the print and calendar purchases. They allow me to continue bringing you some of the images you enjoy here and on social media. Thanks for taking a look at this link for this years Minnesota’s North Shore – Woods Waters and Wilds – A 2023 Calendar

Fall color season has come and gone although some of my Favorite, the golden tamarack are now the main feature in the North Shore woods. Here are a few photos from the past few weeks.

Tamarack in golden yellow with the first touches of snow
A carpeted path of autumn leaves leading to Lake Superior
The furrowed brow of fall. The natural potholes on the shoreline at Temperance River State Park collecting the fallen fall foliage.
A beauty view from Carlton Peak
The 1000 foot Mesabi Miner and Lake Superior from the Sawbill Trail.
Fall splendor
Brilliant fall color in Superior National Forest

Fall is such a great time to photograph moose in and around the Superior National Forest and Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The moose become a little more active in September and October. The moose mating season begins in September and is done by early October, for the most part. It can be an exciting time to see moose. The bulls have shed their velvet coating from their antlers revealing a shiny, new rack on their heads, hoping to attract a mate. You can often encounter males with females and males together often trying to attract the same females. It keeps the moose active, and a little more distracted and less worried about us picture takers and gawkers 🙂 I saw a very large bull as well as a few others so far this fall.

A big bruiser in the North Shore woods
Backside view of this big moose’s antlers
A bull, cow and last year’s calf are silhouetted in pre-dawn light
An iconic Minnesota morning scene
First frost and a nice sized moose
This bull was heavily in rut and was responsive to my calls.
Another silhouette…

The northern lights have been adding a little fall color of their own. September provided a couple of wonderful evenings under the dark, northern skies. As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, our chances increase for seeing these wonders in our skies. With darkness coming on so early in fall and winter, we can often see the northern lights well before bedtime 😃 Here are a handful of recent aurora images.

The aurora borealis over the Temperance River with an SAR arc forming – Minnesota
SAR arc and the Milky Way in Superior National Forest
The northern lights and moonlight shadows over a swampy creek
Fantastic overhead aurora
A brief, spectacular display of aurora over Superior National Forest – Minnesota
Tofte Park and the northern lights
Lake Superior and Aurora Borealis in Tofte, MN
Foggy autumn morning on Crescent Lake in Superior National Forest

Hope you’ve enjoyed this little fall recap. It’s always a favorite time of year for many, including myself. The fast, constant change is pretty fascinating to witness. Winter will soon bring another major change to the landscape, so I’ll enjoy these fleeting fall days while I can now. Thanks again for taking a look at and ordering calendars, too. I appreciate it!

Fall Photos – A Fogbow! – A Big Moose – A Broken Antler – And A 2022 Wildlife Calendar

A Bull Moose and Some Fall Color in the Background – Superior National Forest – Minnesota

I hope everyone is having a fantastic fall season. We have finally been hit with rain off and on for a few weeks. It’s been a much needed reprieve from the dry summer. Fire bans are off, the BWCA and surrounding areas are open, and foggy and rainy has been the norm for a bit lately. The rains seemed to save the fall color season to some extent. September was gorgeous and the yellows of October are here, including the glowing tamarack trees deeper in the forest. It’s also been a moosey fall season! Ill share a few encounters as well as some fall photos in this post. I’ll also share a couple video links and a link to buy my 2022 Wildlife Calendar. I always appreciate the support!

A Black Bear Crossing a Forest Road on a Fall Color Tour

Quiet October Morning at the Sawbill Lake Entry Point to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

So, here’s a fun phenomenon I encountered this fall. Have you ever seen a FOGBOW on Lake Superior?? It’s formed much like a rainbow, but in the fog, usually quite low to the water and when the fog is burning off or fading in the mid day sun(here on the North Shore, anyway). The tiny droplets that make up fog are the cause of the lack of color in the fogbow. You can faintly see color at the top and bottom of the bow, sometimes. Here’s a YouTube video minute of one.


A Minnesota Bull Moose Peering Through the Trees
An Autumn Cruise on the Hjordis in the Grand Marais Harbor – Lake Superior – Minnesota

I have had some fun moose encounters over the past couple months. In one instance, I came across a scene in a road where there was an obvious bull moose fight. In addition to the dirt road being torn up with hoof prints, digging and sliding, there was also a brand new, busted off antler! It must have been one hell of a fight and I JUST missed it. I also have bumped into one MASSIVE bull moose this fall. I will include photos and video below. Thanks for taking a look, and thank you for your calendar orders! Links are above.

A Freshly Broken Moose Antler and Signs of a Struggle in the Road – Moose Rut
A few scenes with a massive Minnesota moose
Bull Moose with a shrub stuck in his antlers from rubbing the ground and raking the brush
Another view of “Octo” the bull
Another Side View
Mr October
Morning Smoke on the Water – Sea Smoke –
A Moose in the Foggy Mist
A long view down a long stretch
Carlton Peak – Tofte, MN
Happy Fall!
Cross Fox reminds you to order your 2022 calendar!

Two 2020 Calendars and a Lot of Fall Photos

I’ve got a ton of fall photos to share. It seemed like a long, vivid and memorable fall color season. Early September was showing nice reds and oranges in areas already, giving way to 3 weeks of bright yellow, orange and red autumn change along the Sawtooth Mountains and surrounding woods. October started just as colorful with the yellows along the shore filling in and the blazing yellow tamarack following back in the forest. The October 12-13 snowfall added to the mix and really capped of a great color season. Now, with the leaves all gone and the tamarack starting to fade, we move into the next phase of fall. Another season of change and beauty all it’s own. Below I will share a lot of fall photos I haven’t really posted anywhere. Thanks for taking a look.

I also have 2020 Calendars available for purchase now. I made two different calendars, all with different images. The Up North – Superior Country Calendar is all landscapes of Lake Superior, the surrounding woods and the BWCA. The Superior Wildlife Calendar is all wildlife from the woods of the Arrowhead region. You can take a look at a preview and order at the links or this link below. I appreciate your support. They would make great gifts. Print within 5 days of order and shipping info will be shown when you order. Plenty of time for holiday deliveries. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/ThomasSpence

And now some more fall color photos from the past month or so…

Gold Against Carlton Peak
Fall in the Fog
Blazing early color
Sawbill
Male and female spruce grouse in fall foliage
Lusen views from the Honeymoon Trail area
Big Fall Bull
Foggy fall mornings in Superior National Forest
Milky Way at Sawbill Lake – Boundary Waters Canoe Area
Fall – Minnesota
Welcome to Superior National Forest
Tofte Park Bridge
Fall Walk Around
the layers of autumn color
Seagull River on the Gunflint Trail in full fall color
Carlton Peak
Carlton Peak one week later
October snowfall
Temperance River Valley Fog
Snow Grove
Same Grove Different Day
That snow though…
Tamarack Flocked Forest
Fall Blanketed in White
Reflections and Morning fog
Spruce Grouse in snow and foliage
Big bull in the snow
The Temperance River Valley and a flocking of snowfall on the autumn woods.



Fall 2015 – Leaves, Aurora and Moose, Oh My!

Fall is a great time in the Northwoods. This has been a busy and rewarding season for photography and exploring the woods.  Most of my explorations and photography have shifted inland this year.  I have not been visiting The Lake for sunrise as often as I am most often into the woods by sunrise time.  This has been great for fall colors and moose alike.  Don’t worry Lake Lovers!  I will likely return more often now to Lake Superior as winter approaches and takes hold.  Lake Superior photographs well in winter 🙂 This will be a three-part post highlighting my three favorite things to photograph, all of which happened to happen in the past few months.  Fall colors, the northern lights, and the majestic, Minnesota moose.

This year it seems that our fall color season was long, but not as “spectacular” as past years.  In my observation, color started early in some spots and finished late in others.  This never gave us a really great “peak color” time as the forest was changing at different rates, often in pockets.  I still had some great photography days chasing fall color…

Early color along the Honeymoon Trail. Sept. 23, 2015

Foggy, misty morning along the Honeymoon Trail. Sept. 2015

Six Hundred Road looking beautiful every fall. A fall favorite and fall classic back road drive.

Forest Scene near Tofte, MN.

October and nearly the end of fall color. This was a great scene as the leaves were floating on 8-10 feet of crystal clear Lake Superior water.

If you are an aurora chaser, or one whom enjoys pursuing the northern lights in the night sky, this has been a good fall.  The Great Lakes Aurora Hunters Gathering also took place in October.  We are on the downslope of the peak of a “solar maximum”.  Much like our seasons, the Sun has cycles.  The Sun goes in 11 year cycles with a minimum and maximum.  At solar maximum, sun spots and solar flares are more prevalent.  This means better chances for better aurora, more or less.  The whole year has been good for northern lights, in my opinion.  Things have slowed down here in late October, but early fall was great for night sky fun…

One of the best, although brief, displays of the northern lights that I have witnessed. This was early September and it was a wild sight for about 25 minutes. One to remember. 9/8/2015 near Schroeder, MN

The Schroeder dock and Lake Superior – September 2015.

October lights along the Temperance River outside Tofte, MN.

Another view of the Temperance River reflecting a light aurora glow from above. October, 2015

October was also the annual Great Lakes Aurora Hunters Gathering in Two Harbors, MN. 200 people from 10 states and two countries got together for three days of fun. Fantastic speakers and meals all weekend. The northern lights were not cooperating, so steel wool spinning was the evening’s activity at Gooseberry State Park. This is Jamie Rabold of Willowmaker Images spinning steel wool.

Matt Rohlader spinning steel wool at the annual Great Lakes Aurora Hunters Gathering.

Double spin…

Happy Halloween! Carved up the pumpkin from my mother on a nice, starry, aurora filled night. October, 2015

The International Space Station often becomes visible in the night sky for a few days in a row. I use this site to predict the times. It is always spot on! http://spotthestation.nasa.gov/ ISS and northern lights – October, 2015

And let me tell you about the moose! 🙂 It’s been an exciting couple months when it comes to moosing.  Fall brings all kinds of wildlife activity to Superior National Forest and surrounding woods.  Everyone is preparing for the coming winter in various ways and it seems that the chances of fun, unique wildlife encounters are more common.  In addition to many moose encounters I have seen pine marten, spruce and ruffed grouse, ducks of all kinds, deer, eagles, a northern shrike out hunting in a field, and many more thrilling sightings.  The moose have been my main quarry this fall.  I have run into 8-10 different bull moose, likely 4 different cows and a couple with calves.  There is a cow with a GPS collar that I have not been able to photograph but have seen a couple of times.  The moose numbers are declining in NE Minnesota and there are some “research moose” in the area. (I pictured one below that I saw in Grand Portage)  These collared moose have GPS units that can track the animals habits throughout the seasons.  Important data is collected about seasonal habits and movements and the animals range.  They can also alert researchers if an animal dies.  This can be important so the researchers can get to the body asap to determine the cause of death.  It will be interesting to see the next count.  A January 2015 count showed the population at 3450 animals.  In 2011 the survey showed around 4900 moose and back in 2006 the count showed nearly 9000 animals. I have heard many theory on the subject and have not formulated my own conclusion but am following closely.

Collared moose – Grand Portage, MN

I have had the good fortune of following another big group of moose this fall.  It is rivaling last fall for quality encounters.  I have filmed a lot of video over the past two months and I am working on a project to compile video clips and still images into a nice, short video featuring these moose.  I will keep you posted on that.
Here is a sample of the massive moose I have seen starting with a unique looking bull from Labor Day weekend and taking us through November 1st…

BWCA Bull Moose I spent the better part of a HOT Labor Day Sunday out in a canoe in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The fishing was slow that day but this big bull moose swimming in the lake made up for it.

Nothing like a dip in the lake on a hot afternoon. Labor Day Weekend – BWCA Bull Moose

One of the younger moose. He makes up for it in spirit and spunk. This one was prodding the larger bull on another occasion.

A frosty little beauty…

Cow moose. She had a bull off to the left that I could see. I did not know she also had a calf at her feet. It would later stand up, revealing itself when I got home and saw the photos on screen.

Bull, cow and calf. The calf is well hidden even after standing up. Can you see it? These three were together on multiple mornings.

Field of Cows – Two cow moose snacking in the late afternoon sun. October 2015

Another scene from an early morning wildlife cruise. Two eagles sparring over the high tree. There was a nearby bear carcass the two were feeding on.

I call this one Number Two. While a massive animal, he is a bit smaller than Hoss. He also seems to know his place around the bigger one. Smart animals in this post-rut group. We watched the sunrise together a few times this fall…

One of the smaller bull moose scenting, or just amazed that he can see his breath on this cold October morning…

Bully and Number Two Bully is the scrappy, smaller guy. Never afraid to test the limits of his elders…

Number Two likes to bask his face in the morning sun on these frosty mornings. I have watched him and the bigger bull do this a couple of mornings. Once, the group of four had their backs to me as they all raised their heads to the morning sun coming up over the trees.

Number Two watching over a cow. Her calf is nearby, too.

Four Bull Morning – the group on a frosty October morning.  I was able to watch this gang interact for almost two hours.  Once they ambled off out of range, I left them.  I try not to spook the moose.  If possible, I photograph them and leave them calm, grazing, like I found them.  I hate to see them running or in a panic because of me and that rarely happens.  Watching your step and walking slowly around them is key.

Mother and Child – Cow and calf with frost at first light.

Big Hoss. I have been fortunate with this moose. I have been running into him a lot and have logged a few hours watching him. Lots of video and photos of him with the group and alone. He is a sight to behold, especially in the near dark, early morning hours. I have caught him in photographable light, too.

Hoss watching over a cow and calf.

Another one of the locals. I don’t see this one as often but he sure is a beauty. He had a cow and calf with him for a couple of mornings, but now seems to be gone. I wonder if Big Hoss pushed him out and took over the cow and calf?? The bulls can be solitary animals, so they may be breaking up for winter already. They will often stay grouped up into winter, though.

These next photos are from yet another encounter with Big Hoss. November 1st in the light rain.

Outstanding in his field… 😉

He’s even outstanding in his swamp!

Great Profile – Great Rack

Hold it right there… November Bull

We may have a month or more of fall left here on The Shore, but there have been days that feel like we are turning the corner towards winter.  Before long, the tracks I see will be in the snow, not mud.  The animals will be stark against a white backdrop, if they aren’t hibernating or burrowed in.  The woods will be quiet except for the wind in the pines.  unless they are muffled by a fresh blanket of snow…  The ever changing seasons in The North.  Winter is coming.  11/2/2015 *edited 11/5