The Associated Press’s John Flesher writes that one of the world’s longest-running wildlife field studies, the Isle Royale moose & wolf study, has fallen prey to the coronavirus pandemic:
Since 1959, a research team has spent most of the winter observing the interplay between wolves and moose at Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. But this year’s mission has been scrapped to protect the scientists and support personnel from possible exposure to the virus, Superintendent Denice Swanke said Friday.
Experts from several universities, the park service and the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa had planned to assess how an effort to rebuild the wolf population is affecting the ecosystem.
The remote park is closed from Nov. 1 to April 15. The winter researchers use a single cabin, which wouldn’t allow for social distancing. Also factoring into the decision to cancel the expedition were the border closure between the United States and Canada, and a shortage of flight resources to bring supplies, Swanke said.
The park service and partners will try to document wolf population changes this summer using remote cameras and other techniques, Swanke said. But they won’t have the benefit of aerial observations that can be done only during winter, when the animals are easier to spot.
“There will just be a hole in the data that nothing can be done about,” said John Vucetich of Michigan Technological University, one of the biologists who have produced annual reports about the wolves and moose that roam the island park, as well as its other wildlife and vegetation.
More at the AP & you can read a lot more about Isle Royale & moose in Michigan on Michigan in Pictures!
David writes: As we were hiking from West Chickenbone Lake campground to McCargoe Cove, I saw a fallen tree’s roots across the narrow arm of the lake. Then the roots turned and looked at me. Moooooose!! See more in his Isle Royale 2017 gallery on Flickr & for sure check out his blog posts about the trip in his excellent blog Cliffs & Ruins!
While these arctic owls are not found in the summer, the Michigan DNR shares that Snowy Owls & other winter visitors spend time in our state during the winter months:
Just because the leaves have fallen from the trees and there is a chill in the air is no reason to put away your binoculars. Winter offers unique viewing opportunities. Many of our summer resident birds migrate to warmer summer climates. Still, there are several species of birds that migrate from Canada and find Michigan the perfect winter temperature. Winter is the only time several of these species can be found in Michigan.
Two of the largest migrants are the snowy owl and the great gray owl. Snowy owls can be found moving into Michigan during winter when the food supply on the arctic tundra is in short supply. Snowy owls have been recorded as far south as Lansing, Michigan. Because they rarely see humans on their northern homes, they are not timid and can be easily viewed for long periods of time.
Kevin took this photo back in the winter of 2016, but he’s been hearing that they are back in Michigan now. See more in his Birds of Prey album on Flickr & be sure to follow Kevin Povenz Photos on Facebook.
Here’s a lovely shot from the Maple River State Game Area which:
…is mid-Michigan’s largest contiguous wetland complex, an extensive area of floodplains, lowlands, and marshes along the Maple River that begins in Gratiot County and spills into Clinton County … Hiking opportunities are available in the East Unit, however. Straddling US-27, the East Unit features pools and diked-in ponds that serve as the water basin for the Maple River and attract migrating birds. Hiking along dikes is easy and the spectacular congregations of birds among the cattails in the warm glows of a late afternoon sun makes this trail system scenic and interesting for families and anybody who enjoys birding.
…Wildlife can be viewed practically year-round in the game area. Spring viewing from March through May is excellent as thousands of ducks, geese, and swans use the wetlands as a stopover on their migration to northern breeding grounds. Throughout the summer herons are a common sight in the area while the observant or those who pack along binoculars might spot bald eagles or ospreys perched on dead snags.
See more in Joel’s massive Trees photo album on Flickr & have a great week!
Mark writes that the nave, altar and the stained glass windows are all in alignment in his photo from the Leo Creek Preserve, a pretty cool outdoor learning laboratory & permaculture garden in Suttons Bay. The mission of Leo Creek Preserve is:
…to use its unique creek, forest, and agricultural spaces to provide, for all people, an outdoor learning laboratory to investigate water and woodland ecology, intensive soil regenerating practices, and to bring art into the garden gathering spaces. We value strengthening our connection to the natural world and bringing people together to work towards a beautiful, healthy, productive and regenerating environment, and sharing its abundance.
Pretty cool! Follow Mark at downstreamer on Flickr for more great photos!
Back on June 1st, I shared a photo of two fox kits by TP Mann. As you can see, they’ve grown! He writes:
On a beautiful breezy summer evening I was able to watch these young foxes out by their den. A group of birds over and behind me were getting the full attention of this trio along with the old man and the camera.
See more & lots of other great photography on his Flickr!