Trees, Reflected

Trees Reflected by Joel Dinda

Trees Reflected by Joel Dinda

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!

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Altar to Fall

Altar by Bill Dolak

Altar by Bill Dolak

Bill writes “On this, the altar to the last day of summer: the sacrificial leaf that will bring on fall,” so if anyone is sad summer’s over, Bill’s the man to talk to. ;)

Of course if you’re excited for apples, autumn’s colors & of course, pumpkin spice, mad props to Bill! Check out more in Bill’s Kalamazoo River Valley Trail album & enjoy the season!

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Wood Duck Wednesday

Wood Ducks by Third Son

Wood Ducks by Third Son

The All About Birds listing for Aix sponsa (wood duck) says in part:

The Wood Duck is one of the most stunningly pretty of all waterfowl. Males are iridescent chestnut and green, with ornate patterns on nearly every feather; the elegant females have a distinctive profile and delicate white pattern around the eye. These birds live in wooded swamps, where they nest in holes in trees or in nest boxes put up around lake margins. They are one of the few duck species equipped with strong claws that can grip bark and perch on branches.

Wood Ducks thrive in bottomland forests, swamps, freshwater marshes, and beaver ponds. They are also common along streams of all sizes, from creeks to rivers, and the sheer extent of these make them an important habitat. Wood Ducks seem to fare best when open water alternates with 50–75% vegetative cover that the ducks can hide and forage in.

A few wood duck facts:

  • Natural cavities for nesting are scarce, and the Wood Duck readily uses nest boxes provided for it. If nest boxes are placed too close together, many females lay eggs in the nests of other females. (click for info about building a nest box)
  • The Wood Duck nests in trees near water, sometimes directly over water, but other times up to 2 km (1.2 mi) away. After hatching, the ducklings jump down from the nest tree and make their way to water. The mother calls them to her, but does not help them in any way. The ducklings may jump from heights of up to 89 m (290 ft) without injury.
  • Wood Ducks pair up in January, and most birds arriving at the breeding grounds in the spring are already paired. The Wood Duck is the only North American duck that regularly produces two broods in one year.

More including wood duck calls at All About Birds.

Third Son took this yesterday – see more in his Birds 2020 gallery & definitely do yourself a favor and have a look at his most popular pics!

Many (many) more Michigan birds on Michigan in Pictures.

What’s up everyone?

Squirrels in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan (July 31st, 2017), photo by Corey Seeman

Apologies for the spotty posting over the last week. I’ve been pretty busy on a project.

Corey took this photo yesterday on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor when he was testing out his new Tamron 18mm-400mm lens, which he totally loves. View the photo background bigtacular and see more in Corey’s Project 365: Year 10 slideshow. (spoiler alert – there’s a lot of squirrels in it!)

More summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Oak Savannah

Oak and the Day Lilies, photo by Diane Constable

“Too old to plant trees for my own gratification, I shall do it for my posterity.”
-Thomas Jefferson

Dianna writes:

So glad someone planted THIS Black oak some 200-250 years ago–maybe about the time Mr Jefferson made the above quote!

Do not know who or what planted the acorn–but this tree lived in grasslands just about it’s whole life judging by the spread of the branches.

Local history says Indians lived in the area and would burn the grasslands on occasion to keep the oak-grass savannah in much of southern/central Michigan–may have very well been what this tree witnessed. Slow burning grassfires would not have harmed the tree.

View the photo bigger and see more in Dianna’s Oak slideshow.

PS: Read more about oak savannahs and the flora & fauna they support from the Michigan DNR.

Fern Shadow

Fern Shadow, photo by Jay

Jay writes: While cutting my winter firewood I noticed this fern shadow cast on one of the cuts. So many beautiful things to see.

Indeed! View the photo background bigilicious, see more in his slideshow, and have a wonder-filled weekend!

Forest Garden

Forest Garden, photo by Curt Saunier

I hope you have a chance to spend some time in the forest, the garden, or both this weekend!

View the photo bigger and see more in Curt’s Flowers slideshow.

Sturgeon Bay Outhouse & Winter Cabin Camping at Wilderness State Park

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Sturgeon Bay Outhouse, photo by David Clark

We’re going to let David Clark of one of my favorite blogs, Cliffs and Ruins, take over today’s post. He writes:

The most scenic walk to an outhouse award goes to Sturgeon Bay Cabin at Wilderness State Park, where this line of wind-blown cedars escorts you to the potty.

I took this photo on the 2nd day of my snowshoe adventure at Wilderness State Park in December 2016, after a heavy snowfall the night before. I enjoyed 3 days of spectacularly good snowshoeing and utter solitude. Read more at my blog: Winter Cabin Camping at Wilderness State Park.

I really encourage you to check out David’s post for photos and a great account of his visit to Wilderness State Park which is located on the northwest shore of the lower peninsula, to the west of the Mackinac Bridge. This is an adventure I really hope to take!!

View David’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his Wilderness State Park 2016 slideshow.

An Ode to the Winter Solstice

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An Ode to the Winter Solstice, photo by Cherie

EarthSky’s page on the winter solstice says:

The solstice happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. In 2016, the December solstice comes on December 21 at 5:44 a.m. EST. That’s on December 21 at 10:44 Universal Time. It’s when the sun on our sky’s dome reaches its farthest southward point for the year. At this solstice, the Northern Hemisphere has its shortest day and longest night of the year.

…At the December solstice, Earth is positioned in its orbit so that the sun stays below the north pole horizon. As seen from 23-and-a-half degrees south of the equator, at the imaginary line encircling the globe known as the Tropic of Capricorn, the sun shines directly overhead at noon. This is as far south as the sun ever gets. All locations south of the equator have day lengths greater than 12 hours at the December solstice. Meanwhile, all locations north of the equator have day lengths less than 12 hours.

For us on the northern part of Earth, the shortest day comes at the solstice. After the winter solstice, the days get longer, and the nights shorter. It’s a seasonal shift that nearly everyone notices.

View Cherie’s photo background big and see more in her Michigan can be a Winter Wonderland slideshow.

Snow Boys

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Snow Boys, photo by Tom Hughes Photo

Tom says they were out playing in the first big snow of the year. View his photo bigger and see more in his Black & White slideshow.

More black & white photography on Michigan in Pictures.