Snowy Owl 1

Snowy Owl 1, Sherri & Dan

Dan Lockard captured a cool sequence last weekend of a snowy owl on the hunt. View his photo background big, watch the hunt (which doesn’t end well for Mr. Mouse) or check out his owls slideshow.

The Owl Pages entry for the Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) says in part:

The Snowy Owl is a large diurnal white Owl with a rounded head, yellow eyes and black bill. The name “scandiacus” is a Latinised word referring to Scandinavia, as the Owl was first observed in the northern parts of Europe. Some other names for the Snowy Owl are Snow Owl, Arctic Owl, Great White Owl, Ghost Owl, Ermine Owl, Tundra Ghost, Ookpik, Scandinavian Nightbird, White Terror of the North, and Highland Tundra Owl.

…Most hunting is done in the “sit and wait” style. These Owls are highly diurnal, although they may hunt at night as well. Prey are captured on the ground, in the air, or snatched off the surface of water bodies. When taking snowshoe hares, a Snowy Owl will sink its talons into the back and backflap until the hare is exhausted. The Owl will then break its neck with its beak. Snowy Owls have been known to raid traplines for trapped animals and bait, and will learn to follow traplines regularly. They also snatch fish with their talons. Small prey up to small hares are swallowed whole, while larger prey are carried away and torn into large chunks. Small young are fed boneless and furless pieces. Large prey are carried of in the Owl’s talons, with prey like lemmings being carried in the beak.

…Snowy Owls produce large, rough-looking cylindrical pellets with numerous bones, feathers, and fur showing. They are usually expelled at traditional roosting sites and large numbers of pellets can be found in one spot. When large prey are eaten in small pieces with little roughage, pellets will not be produced.

Read on for much more about these winter visitors, who the DNR explain migrate to Michigan in wintertime and have been sighted as far south as Lansing. They add that because snowy owls see few if any humans in their Arctic home, they are not very timid and easier to observe than other owl species.

More Michigan owls on Michigan in Pictures!

Lake Effect 4794-09

Lake Effect 4794-09, photo by StacyN – MichiganMoments

Many in Michigan are waking up to frigid temps, high wind and snow – the perfect conditions for lake effect snow. Meteorologist Robert J. Ruhf has an excellent article on Lake-Effect Precipitation in Michigan that explains lake effect snow and rain are common in Michigan, especially in late fall and early winter as cold polar air moves across the warmer Great Lakes. 

The unfrozen waters are relatively warm when compared with the temperature of the wintertime air mass. Therefore, the temperature of the air that comes into contact with the water increases. The warmed air expands and become less dense, which causes it to rise. This is an “unstable” situation. As the air rises, the temperature decreases until it reaches the dew point, which is the temperature at which the air becomes saturated.. Ice crystals or water droplets will then begin to collect until the force of gravity pulls them down. The result is “lake-effect” precipitation. When the cP air mass is very cold, as is often the case between December and February, the precipitation falls as snow. During late autumn, however, the polar air mass may be warm enough for the precipitation to fall in the form of rain.

“Lake-effect” precipitation can cause substantial intensification of snowfall amounts in very narrow bands, often referred to as “snow belts,” along the leeward (downwind) shores of the Great Lakes. The prevailing wind direction in the Great Lakes region is westerly; therefore, most “lake-effect” precipitation events occur to the east of the lakes.

…An interesting feature of “lake-effect” is that the heaviest bands of snow do not usually occur along the immediate shoreline, but tend to fall several miles inland. Snowfall accumulations are enhanced inland because the air experiences more uplift when it is forced over hills and higher terrain. 

Read on to learn lots more about lake effect snow in Michigan including four narrow bands  - Keweenaw Peninsula, Leelanau Peninsula, the Thumb and the southwest Lower Peninsula - where geographic features and the shape of the shoreline contribute to more intense snowfall. Hang on to your hats – winter is here!

Stacy took this photo of Lake Michigan from the North Muskegon shoreline in January of 2009. See it bigger and see more in her awesome Michigan BLUE Winter 2012 slideshow.

Need a winter background?

Wind, Water & Warmth

April 8, 2013


Untitled, photo by Jben21

As the air heats up we will get these warm and wave-tossing winds in the Great Lakes. The Chicago Tribune explains why spring brings us stronger lake breezes, the coastal wind that blows from the lake to land:

It’s powered by differences in density between warm (less dense) air over land and cool (more dense) air over Lake Michigan. Because temperature greatly affects air density, a lake breeze is most likely to form (and it will blow most strongly) when large temperature differences exist between the “land air” and “lake air.” Those temperature differences are greatest in April and May when the lake air is chilly because Lake Michigan waters still retain much of winter’s cold and the land air is warming strongly in response to the strengthening spring sun.

Check this photo from last April near Muskegon out big as the Big Lake and see more in Jben’s Sunsets on Lake Michigan slideshow. It’s also the cover of the Michigan in Pictures Facebook!

More spring wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures and also lots more cool wind photos!

Fall Color in the Mitten

October 5, 2012

Fall Colors-HDR

Fall Colors-HDR by Mi Bob, photo by Mi Bob

Fall color is really kicking in around the state. It’s looking like this weekend may be the optimal time for your color tour, as Michigan’s summer drought might cause an earlier leaf drop.

The Freep has a nice aerial from the UP and reports that Upper Peninsula color is at 60-80%. If you head over to the Marquette Country Facebook, you can see a lot of photos from all across the UP. The West Michigan color report shows 40-50% coverage and they have photos from across the region on their West Michigan Weekly blog. Of course you can also search for “autumn” in the Absolute Michigan pool on Flickr to see the latest as well!

If you’re looking for some ideas on where to go, Pure Michigan fall color tours for everywhere in the state and other ideas for fall travel. This photo was taken near Muskegon, and while Pure Michigan doesn’t have a tour there among their 20+ tours, the West Michigan Tourist Association has a whole bunch of color tours including one that goes along the lakeshore near Muskegon.

Check this out on black and see more in Mi Bob’s Fall in West Michigan slideshow.

There’s lots more barns and fall color on Michigan in Pictures.


Masquigon, photo by Rudy Malmquist

Wikipedia’s Muskegon entry explains that:

“Muskegon” is derived from the Ottawa Indian term “Masquigon” meaning “marshy river or swamp”. The “Masquigon” river was identified on French maps dating from the late seventeenth century, suggesting that French explorers had reached Michigan’s western coast by that time.

Father Jacques Marquette traveled northward through the area on his fateful trip to St. Ignace in 1675 and a party of French soldiers under La Salle’s lieutenant, Henry de Tonty, passed through the area in 1679.

The earliest known Euro-American resident of the county was Edward Fitzgerald, a fur trader and trapper who first came to the Muskegon area in 1748 and who died here, reportedly being buried in the vicinity of White Lake. Sometime between 1790 and 1800, a French-Canadian trader named Joseph La Framboise established a fur trading post at the mouth of Duck Lake. Between 1810 and 1820, several French Canadian fur traders, including Lamar Andie, Jean Baptiste Recollect, and Pierre Constant had established fur trading posts around Muskegon Lake. In 1830 Muskegon was an Ottawa village.

Euro-American settlement of Muskegon began in earnest in 1837, which coincided with the beginning of the exploitation of the area’s extensive timber resources. The commencement of the lumber industry in 1837 inaugurated what some regard as the most romantic era in the history of the region.

Read on at Wikipedia.

Check this photo out background bigtacular and see more in Rudy’s Neutral Density slideshow. While we’re at Wikipedia…

In photography and optics, a neutral density filter or ND filter is a filter that reduces and/or modifies intensity of all wavelengths or colors of light equally, giving no changes in hue of color rendition. It can be a colorless (clear) or grey filter. The purpose of a standard photographic neutral density filter is to allow the photographer greater flexibility to change the aperture, exposure time and/or motion blur of subject in different situations and atmospheric conditions.

History? Yes, Michigan in Pictures has lots and lots of Michigan history … and a fair bit on Muskegon too!

Huge Crowd at The Dead Concert, Rothbury 2009, photo by Ann Teliczan

I’m not sure if this qualifies as a commercial break, but in addition to Michigan in Pictures, I also work to promote the enjoyment of Michigan through Absolute Michigan. We have just kicked off a summerlong campaign we’re calling Absolute Michigan’s Festival Summer. The goal is to give away as many tickets as possible to Michigan festivals and events all summer long. After just a week of reaching out to folks who make these events happen, we have tickets for a half dozen music festivals and events  including a pair of June ones – the Leland Wine & Food Festival (Michigan’s oldest – Jun 11) and the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Festival (Jun 18) with more on the way!

This weekend we are giving away a pair of weekend passes to the first-ever Electric Forest Festival (June 30 – July 3) in Rothbury, Michigan. That’s about a $500 value and we’re happy that Electric Forest is sponsoring Absolute Michigan in part by providing a pair of tickets for us to give away to our readers. The festival is headlined by String Cheese Incident, Tiesto, Pretty Lights, Bassnectar and REO Speedwagon, but for my money, a big part of the experience are some fantastic acts from Michigan (Greensky Bluegrass, SuperDre, Macpodz and the Ragbirds) as well as from points near and far that many of you (including me!) have never heard of.

All you have to do to enter is to join the Absolute Michigan email list – do that and get all the details in our interview of Rothbury and Electric Forest founder Jeremy Stein!

The photo above was taken by Ann of the great blog Michigan Sweet Spot. Ann went to Rothbury in 2008 and 2009, and she has some cool shots and recollections at Rothbury in her blog along with lots more Michigan photographic goodness.

Be sure to check out the work of another Anne, her 360 degree Rothbury panoramas include ambient sound and are a real treat and she has a nice slideshow too. Speaking of slideshows, here’s one from the Absolute Michigan team at Rothbury 2009.



IMG_1283, photo by acsavage.

Absolute Michigan is excited to be covering the 2009 Rothbury Music Festival held July 2nd – 5th in Rothbury, MI (near Muskegon). They still have tickets available so think about making the trip!

At we’ll have extensive coverage of the music with a focus on the Think Tanks and all the Michigan angles to the festival that we can dig up. In addition to our Absolute Michigan: On Location blog, we’ll be teaming up with Traverse City based Porterhouse Productions to bring you some of the most in-depth and engaging festival coverage anywhere!

Check out this and other photos from Rothbury 2008 by Anne in her Rothbury Slideshow. Last year Anne created some amazing Rothbury panoramas and she’ll be back at it again this year!

If you’re headed to the festival, consider sharing your photos with Absolute Michigan and other online media outlets through the Rothbury 2009 group!

For more photos from Rothbury check out Photos from the 2008 Rothbury Music Festival on Michigan in Pictures.

Again with the ice

February 17, 2009


IMG_1513, photo by wcwhiting.

Bill says he’s waited all year for this to happen again.

Check out Bill’s other photos from this day and in his slideshow (there’s a music video at the tail end of the slideshow, so make sure your speakers aren’t on too loud!).

Sorry to keep coming back to the ice theme but it’s just too awesome.

DANGER--Wipeout Ahead

DANGER–Wipeout Ahead, photo by taterfalls.

Tate says that this is what happens when you don’t steer enough. Be sure to check the photo out bigger.

The Muskegon Winter Sports Complex is located at Muskegon State Park. This amazing complex features over an acre of skating rinks (including a 700′ skating trail), 16k of groomed and lighted cross-country trail through woods and along Lake Michigan (he longest lighted trail system of its kind in the Midwest) and the luge track.

The Muskegon Luge is one of four luge tracks in the United States and is considered the most publicly accessible. Although much smaller than the Olympic tracks in New York and Salt Lake City, the Muskegon track was designed with the public in mind. The track was designed by three time Olympian Frank Masley. The track consists of six curves and two starting areas, the public start for recreational “learn to luge” sliders and the other from the top for more experienced sliders from the Muskegon Luge Club.

Click through to the Muskegon Luge page to see a cool video from Wild Weekend TV showing how accessible it is to the public.

Salt Mountain, photo by otisourcat

In the battle against snow and ice that is waged every winter day on Michigan’s roads, salt remains and essential ingredient. MDOT records for 1991 show that 442,223 tons of road salt were applied to 10,000 linear miles of trunk line maintained under MDOT’s jurisdiction. The Wayne County Road Commission notes that a single salt run for a truck can use up to 12 tons of salt, depending upon the truck size. That page has several more bits of trivia including the fact that at temperatures below 20 degrees, salt begins to lose its effectiveness. It becomes almost completely ineffective at 0 degrees or colder.

The Salt Institute’s page on Michigan salt says that estimated salt deposits in Michigan are astronomical. In the Detroit area alone, it is believed that there are over 71 trillion tons of unmined salt. Geological studies estimate that 55 counties of the Lower Peninsula cover 30,000 trillion tons of salt.

Our largest salt mine is actually the Detroit Salt Mine, operated by the Detroit Salt Company (closed for a time but now re-opened, comes with an annoying & loud Flash warning) and I suppose is makes sense that in 1940 Detroit became the first major city to use rock salt for snow and ice control. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Ann Murray has a great report titled Exploring a Great Lakes Salt Mine that takes you inside the Cleveland salt mine that extends under Lake Erie. The best exploration of the mine is via The ghostly salt city beneath Detroit in the Detroit News:

In a 1925 Detroit News article, miner Joel Payton told about his salt mine job. “The only dirty part of this job is going down to work,” Mr. Payton explained.

“I have to wear this old outfit because the big buckets that take us down get smudgy from the action of the sulphur water on the iron of the buckets.

“The mine itself is dry and clean as pure rock salt in a solid vein 35 feet thick is bound to be. The high vaulted rooms that we have hollowed out have sparkling white floors, walls and ceilings.”

Payton continued, “One reason we don’t have any rats in our Detroit mine is because the rats would have nothing to eat except the leavings of our lunch pails. And by the way, not only are there no rats or cockroaches or other living creature in our mine, but also no remains of living things from past ages. The salt vein is, of course, a dried up sea that once covered this section for hundreds of miles. You’d naturally suppose that some fish or vegetation would have been pickled or fossilized in the brine as it hardened. But I’ve never seen a single fossil or sea shell or any remains of that kind”

The photo above was taken at the Verplank salt dock, Muskegon and you can see more photos of otisourcat has taken of Michigan road salt.


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