Friday, April 24, 2015

Wild Goose Chase

I was driving along North Shore, just past the Bight, when I spotted a Canadian Goose sitting, or perhaps standing, along the shoreline.

I pulled over to watch it for a while, but it stood there completely still.

As soon as I rolled down my car window and took out my camera, the goose started honking loudly and strolling away.

It kept on honking, but soon turned its attention from me to another goose approaching from behind.  The second goose quickly joined in the noise-making.

It was really quite hilarious.  I didn't know what to make of the behavior.  It almost looked like the two were in some kind of crooning duet.

But after a while, I could see the original goose was chasing the newcomer away.

Having success, it turned and walked further into the water.  I thought it might be going to fish like some of the other waterfowl I'd recently seen.

I was wrong on the fishing part, however.  The goose instead was feasting on vegetation from the lake bottom.  Lake weed (vs. seaweed) du jour, perhaps!

But, at least photographically speaking, the goose saved the best for last.

Rising up almost completely out of the water and extending its magnificent wings outward, the goose was a spectacular creature to behold.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Just Ducky

After seeing two Sandhill Cranes last week along the Bight, I decided to see what other shorebirds or waterfowl I might find.  Not having any luck in Northport or Omena, I headed down to the Narrows at Lake Leelanau, where the habitat attracts a variety of water critters.

Right away, I saw a male Common Merganser floating leisurely among the reeds.  Its green head was in striking contrast to its clean white body and red serrated bill.

The female was floating a ways behind her mate.  How different she was to him with her elongated gray body and short-crested, cinnamon-colored head!  It was hard to believe they were the same species.

For some reason, the pair suddenly stopped their leisurely swim and pivoted into an immediate about-face. 

The mergansers closed ranks and stared intently down stream.  I wondered if they sensed a predator nearby.  But I could see nothing in the direction where they keenly peered.

I broke out in a smile, however, as ripples in the water gave way to a surfacing beaver.  Fortunately, it wasn't a predator.  In fact, ducks sometimes build their nests atop beaver dams.

Once the beaver had passed, the merganser pair returned to their leisurely paddle.  It was truly a just ducky kind of morning.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Becoming Spring

Signs of spring greeted me as I stepped outdoors early this morning.  Music from songbirds returned from winter getaways filled the air and beckoned me to head outside with my camera to explore.  On a drive back home from Traverse City yesterday, I noticed that most of the ice had gone out of the bay.  But sometimes Northport is different.  What ice melting is going on here? 

I could see the ice was completely gone from the Bight, except for an occasional berg waylaid by shoreline vegetation.

How surprised I was to come upon two sandhill cranes taking a morning beach stroll!  Now that the water has opened up, I imagine we will see more shorebirds fishing for food along the bay.

Not all of the ice melt has been a gentle and easy process, however.  This past week stiff winds from the across the bay blew huge piles of melting ice into the neighborhood next to mine.

Gigantic ice bricks encroached onto beaches, destroying whatever was in its path, including furniture left out for the winter.

These decks and shore stations were completely upended by the force of the moving ice.

I wondered what signs of spring I'd see on the other side of the peninsula.  Bright red buckets were hanging on the trees near Christmas Cove, ready to collect the running maple syrup.  I'd not yet been down to Christmas Cove beach because its steep hill is blocked off in the winter.  I was delighted to see the entrance was finally opened up.

Driving down the hill to the beach, I gasped at the vista before me.  Ice fields covered the water as far as I could see.  While it was hauntingly beautiful, I couldn't help but think:  It's still winter here!

Not wanting to accept the reality of what I had seen, I made my way south to Peterson Park only to have the same scene repeated.  And the Leland Report had mentioned just a few days ago that the ice was gone there.  Well, that is not true for Northport!  Becoming spring may take a while longer here.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Bay Side Sunset

I've been watching the ice go out on the bay all week.  It's been amazing how it has changed each day.  Sometimes it looks like a little progress has been made, and then the next day, cold temperatures slow the thawing process.

 Giant fissures formed throughout the ice field, and gave way to more and more open water.  But I was surprised to see so much open water this evening as I drove along the bay.  How did all the ice disappear so quickly?

I could see the shoreline was littered with small sand-covered islands and shards of ice, which looked like someone had smashed sheets of clear glass against the rocks.

As I drove farther north along the bay,  I noticed less and less open water.  In spots there were mounds of ice, lots of slush and sand piles, but little open water.  Winds from the north must have pushed ice from the Lake into the end of the bay.  What was really catching my eye, however, was the pastel colors reflecting the setting sun on Lake Michigan.

I typically think of the sunset as occurring on the Lake side of the peninsula, but there was a pretty good show going on along the bay side too.