May 17, 2013
Morels are popping up all over, and though you might not find 98 like Heather did, even a handful of these delectable mushrooms will make it all worth it. If you’re in the Boyne City area this weekend, they hold their annual National Morel Mushroom Festival. You might also be interested in Five Things You Need to Know about Michigan Morel Mushrooms on Absolute Michigan.
Lots more morel goodness on Michigan in Pictures!
May 14, 2013
Mallards are large ducks with hefty bodies, rounded heads, and wide, flat bills. Like many “dabbling ducks” the body is long and the tail rides high out of the water, giving a blunt shape. In flight their wings are broad and set back toward the rear.
Male Mallards have a dark, iridescent-green head and bright yellow bill. The gray body is sandwiched between a brown breast and black rear. Females and juveniles are mottled brown with orange-and-brown bills. Both sexes have a white-bordered, blue “speculum” patch in the wing.
Mallards are “dabbling ducks”—they feed in the water by tipping forward and grazing on underwater plants. They almost never dive. They can be very tame ducks especially in city ponds, and often group together with other Mallards and other species of dabbling ducks.
Read on for more including photos and some fun facts:
- The Mallard is the ancestor of nearly all domestic duck breeds (everything except the Muscovy Duck).
- Mallard pairs are generally monogamous, but paired males pursue females other than their mates. So-called “extra-pair copulations” are common among birds and in many species are consensual, but male Mallards often force these copulations, with several males chasing a single female and then mating with her.
- Mallard pairs form long before the spring breeding season. Pairing takes place in the fall, but courtship can be seen all winter. Only the female incubates the eggs and takes care of the ducklings.
- The standard duck’s quack is the sound of a female Mallard. Males don’t quack; they make a quieter, rasping sound.
- Mallards, like other ducks, shed all their flight feathers at the end of the breeding season and are flightless for 3–4 weeks. They are secretive during this vulnerable time, and their body feathers molt into a concealing “eclipse” plumage that can make them hard to identify.
- The oldest known Mallard lived to be at least 27 years 7 months old.
May 11, 2013
A page about the Point Aux Barques – Turnip Rock geocache had the best information I found about this Lake Huron Landmark. The author explains:
This cache is accessible by a kayak, canoe, jet ski or boat on Lake Huron. Port Austin is the closest harbor which is approximately three miles west. The land around this feature is a gated community. I must stress that this cache is only accessible by a water craft via Lake Huron. If you are not comfortable navigating the waters of Lake Huron, do not attempt to do this cache. Lake Huron can be dangerous at times for small water craft such as kayaks or canoes.
…Everyone that received their grade school education in Michigan learned that glaciers pushed their way over Michigan several times. The result is glacial drift averaging 200 to 300 feet deep covering on top of the bedrock. The thickness of drift has measured over 1,000 feet in a few Michigan locations. Rarely can we see exposed bedrock that has been sculptured by non glacier forces. This is one of the locations in southern Michigan where the sandstone bedrock is exposed at the surface. The amount of shoreline that has exposed sandstone is about one mile, but a lot of beauty has been sculptured in the stone.
The locals call the main structure here “Turnip Rock”, because of it’s shape. Geologists call it a “Sea Stack”. A definition of a sea stack is an isolated pillar-like rocky island or mass near a cliff shore, detached from a headland by wave erosion assisted by weathering. Waves force air and small pieces of rock into small cracks, future opening them. The cracks then gradually get larger and turn into a small cave. When the cave wears through the headland, an arch forms. Further erosion causes the arch to collapse. This causes a pillar of hard rock standing away from the coast. Generally occurring in sedimentary rocks, sea stacks can occur in any rock type.
Read on for more and also see the Atlas Obscura entry for Turnip Rock has a map and photos. Michigan in Pictures favorite Lars Jensen has some great photos of Turnip Rock as well, and you should definitely check out Jason Glazer’s panoramic photos of Turnip Rock.
More Michigan landmarks on Michigan in Pictures.
May 7, 2013
A run of warm weather has the cherry trees in Michigan ready to blossom. Due to their pent up demand to bloom, we should see blossoms all across the state this weekend. Up here in the “Cherry Capital of the World” near Traverse City, we saw leaves pushing out over the weekend and the first buds are getting ready to burst. The same is true in Southwest Michigan.
Even better news is that despite a little flirting with the 30s expected for the coming weekend, we aren’t likely to see full-on frost in 2013. This is a welcome change from 2012 when Michigan saw near total losses across a broad range of fruit crops due to our “summer in March.”
May 4, 2013
One of the many signs of spring in Michigan is the appearance of the endangered trillium flower in the woods. In Plant Focus: Trillium, George Papadelis of the Michigan Gardener writes that for hundreds of years, this plant and its name have been used to symbolize purity, simplicity, elegance, and beauty.
In Ohio, where all 88 counties have masses of wild trillium, it was selected as the state’s official wildflower. Its flowers have twice graced a U.S. postage stamp. Even our Canadian friends across the bridge have declared white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) the official provincial flower of Ontario. Other parts of the world share our passionate admiration for this plant. In Europe, where trilliums are not found in nature, gardeners dedicate vast amounts of time and money acquiring them, especially rare species. In Japan, a cult-like interest has developed towards trillium.
The most readily available species is Trillium grandiflorum or white wake-robin. This has large, pure white flowers up to 5 inches across. These develop in great abundance throughout the northeastern U.S. Its flowers usually fade to a dull pink and sometimes red. Trillium erectum is a much more diverse species with flowers ranging from red to purple to yellow-green and beige. It also grows wild in the Northeast and Michigan. Trillium luteum is the most common yellow species. It originates from areas around eastern Tennessee. One of its most notable features is the beautiful dark green leaves decorated with pale green markings. The flowers are relatively small. Trillium recurvatum bears maroon-purple to clear yellow flowers with strongly curved petals.
Read on for information about how to legally grow trillium.
More spring wallpaper…
May 3, 2013
This is a somber reminder as the weather warms and bikers return to the roads that hurrying or texting or lack of attention can result in tragedy. Ghostbikes.org explains:
Ghost Bikes are small and somber memorials for bicyclists who are killed or hit on the street. A bicycle is painted all white and locked to a street sign near the crash site, accompanied by a small plaque. They serve as reminders of the tragedy that took place on an otherwise anonymous street corner, and as quiet statements in support of cyclists’ right to safe travel.
The first ghost bikes were created in St. Louis, Missouri in 2003. Currently there are over 500 ghost bikes that have since appeared in over 180 locations throughout the world. For those who create and install the memorials, the death of a fellow bicyclist hits home. We all travel the same unsafe streets and face the same risks; it could just as easily be any one of us. Each time we say we hope to never have to do it again — but we remain committed to making these memorials as long as they are needed.
May 1, 2013
Holland’s annual celebration of Dutch heritage and culture, the Tulip Time Festival, starts Friday May 4th and runs through May 11th. While last year’s crazy March heatwave had tulips blooming in mid-April, tulips have been in the slow lane in 2013 due to a cool spring. The good news according to meteorologist Bill Steffen is that a well-timed warmup should have tulips in near perfect bloom this year.
April 29, 2013
historicdetroit.org’s page on the Water Board Building explains:
The Art Moderne-styled Water Board Building has been a familiar part of Detroit’s skyline since October 1928. The Common council provided $1 million in the 1927-28 city budget for a triangular-shaped building on a site bounded by Randolph, Farmer, and Bates Streets. Louis Kamper – a Detroit-based architect known for his work on the houses of prominent Detroiters, as well as Detroit landmarks like the Book Building (1917), the Washington Boulevard Building (1923), and the Book-Cadillac Hotel (1924) – originally planned for a 14-story building. But, “because of the high value of the site, the Board decided that … it would build a twenty story building.”
The completed building reflects the trend toward simplification of forms typical of the Jazz Age. Standing 23 stories, it is comprised of a five-story base, a 15-story shaft, and a three-story penthouse. The total cost – including the $250,000 paid for the site, and the architect’s five-percent commission – was $1,768,760.20. It was one of the last buildings designed by Kamper, who was in his late sixties during its design and construction.
…The BOWC’s new building was constructed in a record-breaking seven months. It was considered state-of-the-art and fireproof by 1928 standards.
Click over to Historic Detroit to read a whole lot more and see a couple of old photos. Also check out the Water Board Building at Detroit 1701 where I found a link to this 300 year history of the Detroit Water Board.
More architecture on Michigan in Pictures.
April 26, 2013
Terry Pepper has (as usual) a very detailed entry for Poe Reef Lighthouse on his Seeing the Light website. This crib style lighthouse is located off Bois Blanc Island in Lake Huron. The reef is very close to the surface and posed a significant threat to navigation until the decision was made in the 1890s to anchor a lightship there. This served until Lighthouse Service decided to build a permanent station on Poe Reef in 1927:
The station building at Poe Reef was to be an exact duplicate of that which the crew had previously completed at Martins Reef. The main twenty-five foot square structure consisted of a steel skeletal framework to which an exterior sheathing of riveted steel plates was applied. Thirty-eight feet tall, it contained three levels, or “decks”, as the crews assigned to the station knew them. The two upper decks were set up as living quarters, while the main lower deck served as housing for the machinery required for powering the lights, heating system and foghorn.
Centered atop the main structure stood sixteen-foot square, ten-foot high watch room of similar construction, with a single observation window on each side. Finally, a decagonal cast iron lantern room was installed on the roof of the watch room, and outfitted with a Third Order Fresnel lens. The combination of pier and tower provided the Fresnel with a seventy-one foot focal plane, and a visibility range of almost twenty nautical miles in clear conditions. Work was completed at the station and the light exhibited for the first time on the evening of August 15, 1929.
At some point in time, in order to eliminate the possibility of the Poe Reef Light being mistaken for the identical all white structure at Martin Reef, the main deck and watch room of the Poe structure were given a contrasting coat of black paint.
Terry has some cool shots of this light as well including this wide shot with cormorants.
More Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures.
April 10, 2013
Crocuses have to be one of my favorite flowers. In addition to being beautiful, they are also one of the leading harbingers of spring in Michigan!