Sunday, June 30, 2013

Michigan's Upper Peninsula

We crossed over the long Mackinac Bridge in the fog to St. Ignace where we stayed for a couple days exploring the shores of Lake Michigan & Huron.  This Am. Redstart helped us celebrate Father's Day, Ida's birthday and our 43rd Wedding Anniversary.

We drove through Hiawatha National  Forest along the Whitefish Bay Coastal Scenic Drive and spent a few days at Tahquamenon Falls State Park.  Pictured is the Upper Falls.

We enjoyed the May Fly hatch at the RV Park on Big Manastique Lake.  The gulls and other birds were feasting on them.

Next destination was the Seney National Wildlife Refuge where we spent several hours driving the 7 mile auto tour.  There were well over 100 Trumpeter Swans, many up close like this family.

We found this Cedar Waxwing building a nest in a red pine next to the Visitor's Center.  Guess he couldn't find a Cedar Tree.

There were several pairs of Common Loons with very small young at the refuge.  We were hoping for more duck species but only found Ring-necked and Mallards.

The next day was rainy but we went back through the drive again and found this Beaver having a "bad-hair day".  There were several lodges in the many lakes of the refuge.

We continued our journey north to Grand Marais, Sable Falls, Hurricane River and 12 mile Beach, all part of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  All through this area we found 17 species of nesting warblers, this Blackburnian being one of our favorites.

We drove the National Forest Scenic Drive, highlights included a large Black Bear crossing the road and Miner's Castle Outcrop, pictured to the right.  This viewing platform, 300 feet over Lake Superior gave us a great view of the Pictured Rocks.

At Munising Lake, we observed a pair of Sandhill Cranes feeding with their young colt.  We continued traveling through the Hiawatha National Forest, camping near Big Bay de Noc.

We hiked on a boardwalk south of Wetmore where we were startled by a dive-bombing Merling, just inches over our heads.  It made an unbelievable sound, we must have gotten too close to it's territory.

We continued our zig-zagging path through the Escanaba State Forest, stopping at Van Riper State Park to camp for 2 nights.  Early in the morning, we drove along the Peshekee River finding this pair of yearling moose.

After a stop in Houghton for supplies we went south along the Superior shoreline to the Porcupine Mountains.  From our campsite on the water we watched Loons diving and dark thunderstorms with water spouts moving out across the lake.

On early morning drives along the park roads, we were serenaded by many White-throated Sparrows (photo on left) and Winter Wrens.

Parting memories of our adventures in Yooper Country includes this fawn who slowly came out on the road as we were approaching.  We also saw a Bobcat on the road to Lake of the Clouds, and our last stop, the Presque Isle Waterfalls.

From God's outdoor sanctuary we visited many small churches, always feeling part of the family of God.

Coming home to Wisconsin!
Best Regards,
Ty & Ida Baumann

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Northern Lower Michigan

After leaving the Kirtland's Warbler area we drove straight west to Lake Michigan through Traverse City then north along the West End of Grand Traverse Bay all the way to the lighthouse at Leelanau State Park.  This peninsula is directly across from Door County in Wisconsin and very similar with it's Cherry Orchards, vineyards, and quaint tourist oriented villages.  This beautiful Yellow Lady's Slipper was one of the many woodland flowers here.

The Red-eyed Vireos are one of the most abundant birds in the area.  We found this one at Wild Cherry Resort RV park in the center of the peninsula.

We drove south to Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore with it's 500+ foot sand dunes that plunge steeply into Lake Michigan.  Taking the Pierce Stocking scenic drive, we stopped at the 12 marked overlooks and natural areas on this narrow, one-way tour.

We have been seeing many White-tailed deer and quite a few fawns, but this one was the most interesting.  This doe wandered into a Red-winged Blackbird's territory and was being ridden "out of Dodge" (literally right on her head).

We found a newly opened RV campground east of Mancelona.  We were the only ones there except for the many 13-lined Ground Squirrels (Gophers), one with a burrow on our site.

At Burt Lake State Park we found families of Red Squirrels.  This baby is one of 5 in a small cavity in a white cedar.

Speaking of squirrels, all through Lower Michigan we have seen Black Squirrels but they were almost impossible to get a good photo of.  Finally at Burt Lake State Park we found one that stayed still long enough to get a picture.

We took an evening drive through narrow, winding sand roads through the Pigeon River State Forest hoping for a glimpse of the elk in the area.  No luck! But there were many birds including this Common Yellowthroat near the beaver dam area.  However, we were not expecting foot deep flooded roads to ford, which we did.

Drawn back to the beach, we stayed at Petoskey State Park for a couple days enjoying the sun and waves.  We also went to Thorne Swift Nature Center near Harbor Springs for a nice walk through the balsam and cedars.  Came close to a Chickadee nest and dad carrying 3 caterpillars to feed his young.
We settled into Mackinaw -Miller Creek RV Park for the weekend with a water view of Lake Huron to the south and the Straits of Mackinaw.  We had a great view of "The Bridge" and the jet ferries (with rooster tails of water) going to and from Mackinac Island.  

We went to Cheboygan State Park and into the forest roads nearby.  As we stopped to listen for warblers, right next to us, perched on a spotted alder was this beautiful Broad-winged Hawk.

On our way to Mackinaw City we had driven through the "Tunnel of Trees" along Lake Michigan, a 20 mile scenic road from Harbor Springs to Cross Village.

At Wilderness State Park we found many warblers singing and this Blue Flag (wild iris) growing in the wet ditches.

Sunrise over the Straits of Mackinaw, a real blessing to start our day and to say farewell to Lower Michigan.

Ready to become U-pers!
Best Regards to all.
Ty & Ida Baumann

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Lower Michigan

Here we are on the opposite side of Lake Michigan, not what we are accustomed to.  It's like a mirror image (well almost) except for the large, some over 600 feet high, sand dunes.  This photo is at Warren Dunes State Park.

We spent Memorial Day exploring the park and found many warblers: Yellow (pictured), Hooded, Canada, Yellow-throated, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Wilson's, & Am. Redstart, all in the campground.  We walked out to the dunes and found the Prairie Warbler singing there.

The Berrien County Audubon Society had put together a birding tour map booklet that we enjoyed following.  We went to Forest Lawn Road Floodplain, Kessling Nature Preserve, Warren Woods State Park, Mud Lake Bog Preserve and Fernwood Botanical Gardens.  Found lots of birds, flowers and wildlife including this cute Woodchuck.

Our last stop in the county was to Sarett Nature Center with a walk on the Tree Top Trail (an elevated board walk, 40-50 feet above the ground) giving us a "bird's eye view".

Their new exhibit was a Butterfly House where we spent considerable time finding and photographing the 24 species. This White Peacock Butterfly posed on the Iris which was one of hundreds of beautiful flowers in this landscaped atrium.  An exhibit window showed hundreds of hot glued chrysalids ordered from Florida, waiting for metamorphosis.

After two days at Van Buren State Park on the lake we moved about 10 miles to a brand new RV family campground east of South Haven.  The birds here were Bobolinks, Field Sparrows and Eastern Meadowlarks (pictured) as this was a former farm.  Very nicely done and we were able to catch up on email, laundry and cleaning (work, work, work).  Can't bird all the time!

As we continued north along Lake Michigan through the Allegan State Game Area, we followed the Kalamazoo River where we added a Cerulean Warbler to our year list.  We stopped at Saugatuck Dunes State Park then to Holland, MI taking a campsite at Holland State Park on Lake Macatawa.  We found this beautiful Fox Squirrel at the Grand Haven State Game Area along with many wetland birds that we added to our Michigan list.

We drove northeast along Muskegon State Game Area where we found an abundance of Dragonflies and Damselflies like this Ebony Jewelwing.  We headed north to Fremont then back west along the White River in the Manistee National Forest.

The White River RV Resort & Campground was one of the most diverse birding areas that we encountered in Michigan.  It was interlaced with many streams, ponds, and forest trails that had wild flowers including this Pink Lady's Slipper.  We found over 60 species of birds plus adding a Golden-winged Warbler to our year list.

As we drive north, we are encountering new nesting birds: Com. Raven, Upland Sandpiper, Clay-colored Sparrows, Northern Goshawk, Purple Finch and Nashville Warblers.  This Nashville is showing off his bright top knot, not often seen in migration.

In order to complete our "Grand Slam" of Eastern Warblers for the year we arrived early at the U.S. Forest Service Visitor's Center in Mio for the Kirtland's Warbler video introduction.  Our car pool group drove to the Jack Pine Stand to be guided into see this endangered species.  At a distance we heard and saw 3 singing males.

As the group dispersed we continued on the 58 mile self-guided auto tour and heard and saw four more Kirtland's Warblers.  We walked the Ruffed Grouse Trail and found one grouse but Ovenbirds were abundant. This one stayed around for several photos.

Looking forward to birding the rest of Lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

God Bless,
Ty & Ida Baumann