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

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