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Northern Michigan in pictures

Great plains puccoon, Lithospermum caroliniense, provide colorful punctuation to the white sands of Lake Huron dunes.

Finally, after nine days on the road, I find myself back in Ohio. The time away was well spent; I was exploring what may be the most beautiful and most biodiverse county in Michigan's lower peninsula, Presque Isle. Following are a few pictorial highlights.

Cool sheetwater flows onto limestone pavement along Lake Huron, forming a spectacular fen. Many rare and unusual plants grow here, including carnivorous pitcher-plants and sundews. Wilson's Snipe nest here, and the males deliver their incredible aerial courtship displays overhead.

 A brilliant dash of orange, courtesy of an Indian-paintbrush, Castilleja coccinea. This plant and many others grew in an interdunal swale along the Lake Huron shoreline. Many species of breeding warblers occur in the buffering spruce-fir-cedar-tamarack forest.

Common as spring-beauties in Ohio, lovely fringed milkworts, Polygala paucifolia, pepper Presque Isle County's forests.

An inquisitive thirteen-lined ground squirrel, Spermophilus tridecemlineatus, peers at your narrator. These prairie dogs are common, and are preyed upon by another much more ferocious mammal, the badger.

Stunning Ocqueoc Falls, the only waterfalls to be found in Michigan's lower peninsula.

Bear Den Lake, one of many glacial kettle lakes in the area. Nearly all of them have their pair of resident Common Loons.

Thousands of acres of elfin jack pine forest blankets the dry sands in the southwestern portion of Presque Isle County, and the counties to the south. These trees are about 6 or 7 years old, and will support nesting colonies of Michigan's most famous songbird for another 14 years or so.

A Kirtland's Warbler serenades your blogger. I took this shot in the forest in the previous photo. Many male Kirtland's Warblers had set up territories, and in such young pine stands it is very easy to observe these tame birds. Their loud song carries some distance, and has a curious reverb quality.

Day's end sunlight sets the woodlands aglow. The kettle lake in the foreground harbored Black Terns, nesting Hooded Mergansers, and many other bird species.

This was the third year that I've led birding/botany/natural history forays in Presque Isle County, and I've learned many of its interesting nooks and crannies along the way. Our adventures are based out of NettieBay Lodge, and we'll be doing it again in May 2013. If you're interested, send Jackie a note at NettieBay, or ring her up at 989-734-4688.

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