Thursday, May 17, 2018

BLOSSOMTIME ARRIVES!



There's not a lovelier time of the year, in my opinion.  It can last two weeks or be gone in a flash with a windy day.  Hope you can get out and enjoy the spring beauty.




























Wednesday, May 9, 2018

SPRING FLOWERS POP ALL AT ONCE



Usually, there's a progression to spring blossoms flowering, with forsythia often being one of the first.  But with a few consecutive, very warm days, everything seemed to pop all at once.  My favorites were the lovely magnolia tree blossoms.  They are so delicate and fragile I hope they last through the predicted rainy days ahead.





















Wednesday, May 2, 2018

COMING ALIVE



It was a year ago when I went on an Audubon outing and discovered the rich farmland habitat where I find so many interesting critters.  It was a beautiful spring morning and I decided to see what was happening in the outdoor world.





The first thing I noticed was that the farmland ponds were completely free of ice.  Finally!  I expected to begin seeing birds and waterfowl enjoying the ponds as they made their migratory journeys.





Right away I saw all the regulars: geese, gulls, and mallards.  Then I saw this sandpiper wading through the shallows of one of the ponds.  I wondered where it had been and where it was headed.




Then this Hooded Merganser caught my eye as it paddled across one of the ponds.  What an unusual shape its head has!  A very striking duck, to be sure.



The next critter I spied wasn't waterfowl; it was a muskrat!  It was busy carrying vegetation from one side of the pond to the other.



The whole atmosphere was different this morning.  Fields that had been under layers of snow three weeks ago had already been plowed and spread with manure.  What a smell filled the air!



And besides the sights and smells, bird song also filled the air.  The most common sounds came from the Red-winged Blackbirds.  Their trill surely meant they were happy with morning sunshine too.



That wasn't the only birdsong I heard.  The familiar bugling call of Sandhill Cranes caught my attention from above and I was able to catch them in flight.



But what was especially fun was seeing what happened next.  As the cranes reached the treeline, they extended their legs and floated in on extended wings for the landing.



It didn't take long for them to head over to the nearby cornfield and begin feasting on the leftover stalks.  Sustenance was needed following their flight!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

ADVOCACY NEEDED FOR SANDHILL CRANES


There probably isn't a critter I enjoy watching and photographing more than a Sandhill Crane.  Yet, I've recently learned that a Michigan House of Representatives resolution could put this population in danger.  HR 154 is a non-binding resolution urging seven politically-appointed members of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to open a recreational hunting season on our state's sandhill cranes. 



Can you imaging shooting sandhill cranes as game?  The thought truly sickens me.  For the past few months, concerned citizens have taken the time to attend monthly NRC meetings to advocate for no hunting of Michigan's sandhill cranes.



The next NRC business meeting will held May 10th at 1 pm at Kirkbride Hall in Building 50, Room 200 at the Commons.  Kirkbride Hall is at 700 Cottage View Drive in Traverse City. 



Following the official meeting, there will be time for public comment.  To speak before the NRC panel on behalf of sandhill cranes, it is mandatory to sign up in advance of the meeting by calling Cheryl Nelson at 517-284-6237 or by emailing her at NRC@michigan.gov by the Friday before the meeting.



Besides the pure ugliness of shooting these beautiful birds, the sandhill crane population is very sensitive.  Each mating pair usually produces only one surviving fledgling annually, so the population is very slow to recover from loss.  Also, it takes these young birds several years to reach breeding age, which again impairs replacement of the crane population.



So please, if you can't attend the meeting, take a moment to email the commission at NRC@Michigan.gov and urge it to keep these birds protected. 



A couple weeks ago, I shared photographs of a pair of Sandhill Cranes doing their pair bonding dance.  It was a breathtaking experience. 



These last three images were of another experience I had a few years ago photographing the pair bonding dance at Cross Farms in Northport.  Unforgettable beauty.




Wednesday, April 18, 2018

IN THE LAND OF A FORGOTTEN SPRING


I heard on the news tonight that Traverse City is twenty-two inches above the norm in snowfall this winter.  I bet much of it fell the first two weeks of April.