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Michigan, May 2002

Part 13: Moose Country

All photographs ©2002 by Mary Beth Stowe

Kind of changed plans again when I realized that an area called "Moose Country" was right on my way to Paradise, so I just made a quick stop at my planned spot, which was Canyon Falls Roadside Park. I didn't think this place would take me all that long to check out anyway, but as it was I just took a quick peek at the beautiful Sturgeon River, picking up the expected woodland fare around here (the Blackburnians still being stubborn; maybe that friendly one was an exception). Nearly jumped out of my skin when a sapsucker drummed nearby; turns out he was using the plastic ID sign nailed to the tree as an amplifier!

            

Trail to Canyon Falls and the Sturgeon River

                

Opportunistic sapsucker using  an interpretive sign as an amplifier...

"Moose Country" was actually an area of Copper Country State Forest, north of Van Riper State Park near Michigamme, where they had reintroduced Moose some time ago, evidently. Having never seen a Moose (and not holding my breath that I'd see one today), I wanted to bird the road they recommended. After a couple of false starts on the wrong roads, I finally found the right one (County Road 607) and followed the directions in the BBB up into what the sign said was a "managed forest". It looked as though several trees had been taken for lumber, but done in such a way that there was still a "forest", if that makes any sense; it reminded me of the way they harvest trees in Australia in their state forests, where the woodland as an environment is still left in tact for the most part. These "gleaned" sections of deciduous forest were the favorites of Least Flycatchers, again tossing che-beks back and forth as fast as they could.

 Rock formation along County Road 607

I passed several open meadows where pines were just coming back, and also a couple of promising-looking bogs, but no Bullwinkle. The best bird of the route, though, was a Ruffed Grouse slowly making his way across the road! A pair of Black and White Warblers came in at one point, the female coming right in my face while the male held back, proving once again that women are friendlier than men! (Just kidding...J) It was neat to hear a Common Loon yodeling in the distance, and probably the most incongruous bird was a gorgeous Horned Grebe hidden by himself in a little shadowy bog! I'm so used to seeing them in open water that this really threw me for a loop! (In fact, when my eye first caught the color I thought, "What?! Naaa, there are no Cinnamon Teal out here!!") More Golden-crowned Kinglets came down to the car, and at one stop a Snipe winnowed overhead, so it was fun to hear all three "vocalizations" on this trip! On the way back I kicked myself for not being more observant, because evidently a Broad-winged Hawk was sitting on a snag right in front of me, in perfect light, and I didn't see him till he took off! The road for the most part was good, but there were some interesting rocky spots near the bridges, and one spot in particular where it looked like part of the road had washed away!

            

Typical northern Michigan bogs

                 

Female Black-and-white Warbler, and a Ruffed Grouse (taken directly into the sun, unfortunately...), showing a bit of his ruff at right

It was going to be a long drive to Paradise, but I still had a little time, so decided to break up the drive with a stop at Presque Isle Park in Marquette. I fell in love with the town immediately; I was almost tempted to move here! (In the summer only, naturally...) This is the home of Northern Michigan University, and it seems like every home, business, and street has an air of "quaintness" about it that makes it just a delightful place! And Presque Isle Park just added to it! Upon pulling into a parking lot by the bay to check out the gulls, a new state bird flew in: Brewer's Blackbird! I never thought I'd see the day when I'd get excited about seeing what's a "kick-'em-outta-the-way" bird in San Diego... Pulled in to the marina just to see if anything was hanging out in there, and got a Caspian Tern and, way out past the power plant, a Red-tailed Hawk soaring away!

                 

Brewer's Blackbirds (female left, male right), and Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

They had a great little loop trail that took you into a bog, where interestingly I picked up all three of the look-alike stripe-breasted sparrows: Song, Savannah, and Lincoln's! (There was an open field nearby, hence the Savannahs...) The trail also took you out to the dunes next to Lake Superior, where you get a great view of Partridge Island (where the gulls nest) and the rock faces going down into the lake. A couple of Spotted Sands were on the beach, and a family of Canada Geese (complete with little yellow goslings) floated by as well. A Palm Warbler bobbed at one of the stations, and also picked up Swamp Sparrow in there, as well as Yellowthroat. Was nice to pick up an Eastern Kingbird on the way back, which I hadn't seen in awhile, and Cedar Waxwings in the budding trees.

        

Nature trail through the bog with Savannah Sparrow

            

Said bog and view of Lake Superior

        

Partridge Island (a gull nesting spot), and dunes at the far end of the trail (the Lake is just over the hill...)

This place is famous for its White-tailed Deer herd, which includes some albinos, but I didn't run into those, either. But I did cruise around the island and took their second nature trail, which goes through the woods, and it is a wonderful trail (but it, along with the whole park, really, is also very popular)! Even though it was midday, I got some tremendous looks at Butterbutts, Black-throated Greens, Redstarts, another Wilson's, and even the up-till-now-reclusive Black-throated Blues decided to come out! Coming back along the cliffs was breathtaking (quite literally for one poor soul for whom they had set up a memorial). On the way out caught some swallows ducking under the bridge, so I pulled off to check them out, and sure enough, they turned out to be Cliffs!

           

Woodland Nature Trail with Yellow-rumped Warbler

 

                 

L-R:  American Redstart, Black-throated Blue Warbler, and Black-throated Green Warbler

        

Cliffside Trail

    

More scenes along the trail


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