April 18, 2015
Here’s a cool shot from last Saturday on Lake Superior’s Whitefish Bay. I hope that you’re shaking off the ice and getting out to enjoy whatever spring is serving up close to you.
April 16, 2015
All About Birds from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is the internet’s best resource for bird information. Their entry for Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) says that osprey are one of the largest birds of prey in North America and one of the most widespread birds in the world, found on all continents except Antarctica. More about osprey at Wikipedia and at Pandion haliaetus (Osprey) from the UM Animal Diversity web.
The Michigan DNR’s Osprey page begins:
The “fish hawk” is brown above and white below, and files with a distinct bend in its wing at the “wrist.” Their feet are equipped with spiny scales and long talons that give them a firm grip on slippery fish, their only prey. Ospreys usually select tall trees in marshes along streams, lakes or man made floodings. They will adapt to artificial nesting platforms. This “help” from humans, along with the restriction of certain harmful pesticides, has helped ospreys recover from the drastic population reductions seen in the 1950s and ’60s. The Nongame Wildlife Fund located 166 pairs in 1988, up from the 81 counted in 1975.
Rodney took this photo of an osprey building its nest in Milford.
MichiganOsprey.com is a great local resource and adds:
Like Bald Eagles, Ospreys often reuse old nests, adding new material to them each season. Ospreys prefer nests near water, especially in large trees, but will also nest on artificial platforms. Ospreys three years or older usually mate for life, and their spring courtship begins a five-month period when they raise their young.
Michigan in Pictures has lots more Michigan Bird photos!!
April 15, 2015
Agate Falls is a Michigan State Scenic Site 6.5 miles east of Bruce Crossing on MI-28. There is a roadside park (Joseph F. Oravec roadside park) just past the bridge over the Ontonagon River. Unfortunately the provided trails and overlooks are somewhat limited. With some effort you can scramble down to the river to get some very good views of the falls, which seems to be popular with local fishermen, or scramble up the river banks to get to the old railroad bridge over the falls. The bridge is now part of a snowmobile trail.
Port Crescent State Park, Michigan, photo by Zack Schindler
…is located at the tip of Michigan’s “thumb” along three miles of sandy shoreline of Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay. Some of the modern campsites offer a waterfront view, either of the Bay or the Old Pinnebog River channel. Port Crescent recently added a new camper cabin which sleeps six and has a scenic view of Saginaw Bay. A wooden boardwalk parallels the day-use shoreline offering many scenic vistas of Saginaw Bay. The park also offers excellent fishing, canoeing, hiking, cross-country skiing, birding, and hunting opportunities.
April 13, 2015
While the ice has melted, leaving the shorelines temporarily free of peril – at least until until bodysurfing season starts – we can take a moment to worry about quicksand. Quicksand in Michigan Streams from Fichigan says:
Everything I know about quicksand I learned from Tarzan movies. The main thing to know is: bad guys don’t make it out, but good guys and gals always do. If you’re a bad guy, please stop reading. Quicksand on a trout stream is a little different than sand bogs in Africa, but there’s some similarity. They are both camouflaged so you don’t see it until it’s too late and if you make it out alive you’ll have an interesting story to tell even if no one believes you.
Quicksand on a trout stream is harder to see since it’s underwater. The stream bottom appears normal except there is no visible hole (sand covers it) so you don’t know it’s here until you start sinking. In waders it’s pretty scary since swimming doesn’t feel like an option.
I’ve found quicksand on the Pine River in Lake County and the Sturgeon River in the Pigeon River State Game Area. On the Pine, the particular spot I know of is a few bends downstream from Raymond Road. The first time I ran into it I was alone. I scrambled to get out and it was like running in place up a sand dune. It was easy to see the exact spot afterwards because a cloud of light gray silt poured out like smoke. An hour later, walking the bank downstream, the silt was still pouring out.
Read on for lots more including his encounter on the Sturgeon River.
The Sturgeon River is one of Michigan’s Wild & Scenic Rivers – more Sturgeon River on Michigan in Pictures.
April 11, 2015
April 10, 2015
Stannard Rock Lighthouse, photo by Michigan Tech University College of Engineering
I came across this stunning video overflight of Stannard Rock Lighthouse last month and discovered a lighthouse I wasn’t familiar with.
Stannard Rock Lighthouse at Lighthouse Friends says (in part):
Stannard Rock, a substantial reef barely covered by the waters of Lake Superior, was named for its discoverer, Captain Charles C. Stannard of the American Fur Company, who charted the hazard in 1835. Because of its remoteness – the nearest land is twenty-five miles away, and the harbor at Marquette is distant forty-five miles – the lighthouse atop the reef has been called “the loneliest spot in the United States” and “the loneliest lighthouse in the world.”
The first plan to mark the reef came in 1849, when $1,000 was appropriated for “a floating bell at Stannard rock,” but as this amount was insufficient to moor a vessel with a bell there, it appears the effort was abandoned. In 1866, the Lighthouse Board determined the time had come to mark the nearly hidden menace to navigation:
Stannard’s rock, lying about twenty-three miles southeast of Manitou Island light, is the most serious danger to navigation in Lake Superior. This shoal is about three-fourths of a mile in extent; it rises two and a half to three feet above the water, and is fifteen or twenty feet in diameter. Its exact locality is known to but few; being so far from land it is seldom seen, and is much dreaded by all navigators. The increasing commerce of the lakes will, at no distant day, demand that it be marked by a light-house, the construction of which will, from the circumstances of its location, be a serious engineering difficulty. As a preliminary to this, and to render navigators familiar with its location, the board recommend that it be marked by a day-beacon, to be composed of a single wrought-iron shaft, not less than one foot in diameter, surmounted by a cage that would be visible not less than five or six miles.
…Stannard Rock Lighthouse stands seventy-eight feet tall and exhibits its light at a height of 102 feet above Lake Superior. The tower tapers from a diameter of twenty-nine feet at the pier to just under eighteen feet at the lantern room, while the seven floors inside the tower all have a diameter of fourteen feet.
Read on for a whole lot more about the history of this now abandoned light, including photos.
The photo comes from the Michigan Tech College of Engineering, part of the documentation of their Ecology of Lake Superior aboard the EPA Research Vessel Lake Guardian presentation. It’s pretty cool and I definitely recommend clicking through to see more photos & video and read about their mission.
View the pic big as Lake Superior and see more in their Lake Superior on board the RV Lake Guardian slideshow.