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Michigan Revisited, July 2017

Part 8: Hiawatha National Forest

All photographs ©2017 by Mary Beth Stowe

Really had to head to the UP after that, and after sitting in the backup coming off the Mackinac Bridge and seeing the backup going the other direction, I made a command decision to skip Sleeping Bear Dunes and do Seney NWR instead (provided I could cancel my reservations and get another room)!  In the meantime I scouted what I could of Hiawatha NF, and the habitat does indeed look perfect for Connecticut Warbler!  As it was, picked up several new trip birds including Black-throated Green and Yellow-rumped Warblers, and a pair of Sandhill Cranes I startled off the road!  Shortly after that the road got really dicey, and at one point was a small lake that I really had to tackle as there was no place to turn around, and I was sweating a little there as the tsunami came crashing over Heppy’s hood, but we made it! J  (Interestingly the rest of the “dicey” wet spots were child’s play in comparison…)  That put a damper on doing the whole loop tomorrow, but by continuing on, the highlight was a momma Ruffed Grouse and her four half-grown chicks! 

Actually, the rest of the road was pretty good, so what I planned to do the next day was just go in as far as where the cranes were (as it looked like you could turn around there), then go up and into the top part of the road from SR 123.  There were lots of other roads to explore as well, that had the potential of bagging us Gray Jay and Spruce Grouse, among other things.  Juggling the hotel situation was a little hectic, though; thankfully I could stay in Newberry another night, but I needed to move to another room (but they offered to have the maids just move my bags to that room while I’m gone).  I looked into getting a room at Munising, but they were going for over $200!! L 

FR 3145, supposedly very good for boreal species...

Started out bright and early, and it was cold out there!!  ((Heppy’s thermometer said 42!!!!)  But it was a beautiful, calm day, and FR 3344 was alive with birdsong!  Unfortunately Connecticut Warbler was not among them (eBird would have flagged it anyway), but along with the ubiquitous Hermit Thrushes added White-throated and Swamp Sparrows, Pine Warblers (Chippies were around as well, but I didn’t count them unless I saw them), and even the Sandhill Crane pair was bugling!  No Yellow Rails, either, but went about four miles before turning around (I couldn’t remember exactly where the “lake” was, but I didn’t want to get in a position where I couldn’t turn around safely).  Heading up to FR 3145, that was delightful as well, but held none of the promised boreal species except for Ravens (and I guess you could include Golden-crowned Kinglets in that list).  I almost tuned out a Swainson’s Thrush singing amongst the Hermits, and once again heard that loud, downward peow typical of Veeries, but I’m surprised I never heard one sing if they’re truly around.  Went just past those dilapidated edifices before turning around, and shortly thereafter stopped the car to record a close Black-throated Green Warbler, when in the background of that song-battle was a Winter Wren!  I pished for good measure and up jumped an Ovenbird right next to the car!

Dawn chorus #1:  The clear whistled songs of rival White-throated Sparrows are prominent, along with the witchy-witchy-checheche song of the Nashville Warbler.  A rollicking Common Yellowthroat chimes in, while ethereal Hermit Thrushes sing in the background.

Dawn chorus #2: the slow "chipping" of a Swamp Sparrow is foremost, along with the dry chips of Yellow-rumped Warblers.  The sonorous (for a sparrow) song of a Lincoln's Sparrow is next, following by the trilling of either a Pine Warbler or Chipping Sparrow (if you can tell 'em apart, be my guest!).  Finally, more White-throated Sparrows and Hermit Thrushes can be heard in the distance.

Heading in on FR 3344 first thing in the morning!

Connecticut Warbler habitat (just no warblers...)

A pair of Sandhill Cranes out for a morning stroll...

Yellow Rail habitat (with no rails...)

Creek crossing

Subaru commercial (and you needed one on parts of that road!)

Butters and odes were starting to move by then, so I stopped a couple of times to investigate:  this one stop had several medium-sized brown butters fighting each other, and they turned out to be the Northern Pearlyeye for real!  (Wasn't sure I had one in Port Huron...)  While I was watching them I noticed a White Admiral in a tree, and before long the Pearlyeyes started chasing him!  Even the little sulphurs weren’t exempt!  A dragonfly landed that the closest thing I could find was a female Belted Whiteface, and a little orange skipper I think was a European (at least no one’s told me otherwise).  As I was shooting a pickup truck came through, and I hurried to the car to move it but they squeezed by fine, but as I left I noticed them turning around!  Before long they were coming up behind me, and you start wondering what the deal is, but then suddenly there was no sign of them; hopefully they weren’t planning on doing any mischief, as I could imagine the Lord causing their truck to break down during their pursuit! J

Still had a little time, so I poked down FR 3141 (Lone Pine Road) for a few miles; the bird highlight there was a pair of Black-throated Blue Warblers, but one spot had quite a bit of butter action, including a copper that looked just like an American on the ventral but more like a Purplish on the dorsal, so I was anxious to see what the experts said!  Again, no one’s contradicted my ID, so had another life butter on my plate! J Ran cross (not over) a little dead snake that, best I could tell, was a Redbelly Snake.

Lone Pine Road

Continue to Seney NWR

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