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Michigan, May 2002

Part 19: West Bloomfield Hills & Seven Ponds Nature Center

All photographs ©2002 by Mary Beth Stowe

I'd say that migration has definitely wound down and things are settling in; the next day was just a nice walk in the woods (or several walks, really)! Started out at Indian Hills Metropark, however, just on the off chance that the Henslow's Sparrows reported there a week or so ago might still be around. They had several promising-looking fields, and I stopped at each one of them, but only picked up Field and Savannah Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark, and Pheasant as unique birds for this area, as well as Blue-winged Warbler and Redstart in the woods. Was disappointed to see that the nature study area was all torn up (they were building something, I guess), so I headed on to the planned stop for the morning: West Bloomfield Hills Nature Center.

       

Entrance sign with Song Sparrow and Gray Catbird

Fortunately I had that map of metro Detroit that Allen had given me my first day, so I thought I could get there the back way, but I had no idea there would be so much morning traffic on these little windy suburban roads (and construction didn't help any)! There were lots of lakes in the area, so I picked up Green Heron and Great Egret on the fly. I finally found the place, nestled in a really swank neighborhood, and took both the short loop and the longer loop, both just terrific walks through lush hardwood forest (and very popular, as many were taking their pre-work power walks or jogs along the trails)! Picked up the usual suburban forest birds (surprisingly no warblers, though, except for Yellowthroat); had a nice Scarlet Tanager fly in right overhead and sing softly as well! A real surprise was hearing an Eastern Bluebird sing, but then the short loop opened up into a small grassy area with two birdhouses, hence solving the mystery... Their pride and joy is their heron rookery, but you can't see it; can sure hear them, though!

          

This is a very popular trail in a very swank neighborhood!  Nevertheless it had Scarlet Tanagers and "Black" Squirrels!

                        

They also had Fox Squirrels and a stuffed Raccoon in case you didn't see the real thing...

After that headed to Seven Ponds Nature Center (after several wrong turns; wound up over by Orchard Lake with some really, really swank looking mansions--made me wonder what they sell for here as compared to a similar home in San Diego...). It had been years since I was here last, so went in to get a trail map, and one of the docents was all excited about their new boardwalk trail, so I decided to do that first. It was indeed a nice little trail through the swamp, then looped back through the woods, picking up lots of Yellow Warblers and a cooperative Pewee. Ran into a group from St. Clair Community College, interestingly (which is located in my home town of Port Huron)! Back at the center I didn't see any martins using their extensive housing (talk about swank), but I heard them later on the trail.

       

One of the "seven ponds" with Yellow Warbler.  At right, a bridge crosses the canal that connects two of the ponds

          

Boardwalk to the bridge and view from the bridge

       

After crossing the bridge, you head into the swamp, where there were Eastern Wood Pewees

After a short rest I decided to take the trail that basically went around the edge of the property (there are oodles of cross-trails you can take all over the area), and that probably ended up being about two miles. Got a Song Sparrow upset at me on the first leg, running back and forth across the trail like a little mouse, then I checked out the observation platform at Waterfowl Pond (no waterfowl, though). A Willow Flycatcher sang from the willows (naturally), and in the open field behind me had Bobolinks and Tree Swallows. The group of little school kids had found a baby bunny, so that held them up long enough for me to make my escape and head on!

       

Waterfowl Pond (without the waterfowl), and little meadow behind the observation deck (look hard for the Tree Swallow house!)

Some of the Catbirds were pretty cooperative for pictures (one was imitating a Starling of all things), and at the road crossing found a Hairy Woodpecker nest! Lots of Indigo Buntings were upset at me, too; I caught myself still falling into "Atlas Behavior" saying to myself, "Feeding young; Agitated Behavior," etc...(the type of data we had to look for during the San Diego County Bird Atlas project).  In fact, actually found the nest of a pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, but they made it pretty clear that I wasn't welcome! At one bench heard what I really could have sworn was a bona fide Red-shouldered Hawk, but then after awhile heard a little bit of a Cooper's-like call, and then finally, just as I was leaving, the culprit did his regular jay noise; I debated about taking Red-shouldered Hawk off the list totally, cuz if this guy was that convincing, then that one at Skegmog could have been a jay, too!

   

Little kids on a field trip, and what they're crossing over...

                                     

L-R:  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher nest, Gray Catbird, and Yellow Warbler

    

Extremely large fungus coming back to headquarters   

I was really shot after that, so decided to head on in to Port Huron and relax before the big dinner with my brother and his family. And since, like an idiot, I neglected to take any habitat shots of the Port Huron State Game Area the next day (or my birding buddy for the day Harriet Davidson, for that matter), I didn't write up a trip report, either... L

   

Barn Swallows gathering mud and stuff for their nests (and I can’t believe these are the only two pictures I took in Port Huron...)


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