Skip to main content

Northern Michigan

A massive fen buffers a wild portion of the Lake Huron shoreline in Michigan's Presque Isle County. Once again, I am up in the northeast corner of the Lower Peninsula, in one of the state's most diverse counties and enjoying myself immensely. This is my fourth year up here, leading trips in collaboration with NettieBay Lodge.

Like everywhere else, spring is late to arrive, but that means that we've caught the peak of some early bloomers, such as this stunning Bird's-eye Primrose, Primula mistassinica. This diminutive wildflower grows in cold calcareous gravels of the Lake Huron shoreline, in association with other interesting flora.

The birds have been beyond fabulous, and I've seen nearly 140 species since my arrival last Wednesday. There'll be plenty more to come, too. Today, our group caught a fabulous group of migrant warblers; at one point six species shared the crown of a Red Pine, creating a scene right out of a plate from a field guide.

Above, one of Lake Nettie's resident loons rotates its eggs. She, as you can see, is not immune to the various midges and other insects that are part of the North Woods package. These loons are worth the price of admission alone. They know us - or at least Mark and Jackie, the lodge's owners - and we can boat out to their nesting island without causing any disturbance. Their tameness towards us permits fabulous photo ops, and I'll hope to share more loon pics later.

More pics and stories to follow, as time allows.


Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Ballooning spiders

Fear not, ye arachnophobes. The subject of this entry is indeed about spiders, but the star of the show is about as cute as a spider can get. And you'll want to know what we're about to learn...

On my recent West Virginia foray, we were strolling down a seldom-used lane, when a bright yellow object caught our eye. It was a goldenrod crab spider, Misumena vatia, on top of a post! Not only that, she - it is a girl - was acting extraordinarily goofy. The spider would stilt up as high as she could go on her legs, weave back and forth, jig side to side, and otherwise engage in what appeared to be spider break-dancing.

Click the pic for expansion, and you can see two columns of silk issuing from her spinnerets. This is an important point, as we set about determining what this non-web-making spider is doing.

So fixated was our spider on her task that she even rejected what would seem to me to be a perfectly scrumptious meal. This little caterpillar climbed rapidly up the post and dire…