Thursday, March 1, 2018

Road Trip

 Many Michiganders head south in February. We went north.            

 Two weeks ago, Kim felt well enough for our first post-surgical road trip. The plan was three days of birding at Sault Ste. Marie, a.k.a. "the Soo," located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where Lake Superior drains into Lake Huron through the St. Mary’s River. Founded in 1668, it's one of the oldest cities in the country - sources disagree whether it's 3rd or 10th oldest. We were chasing birds thanks to our guides from Grand Traverse Audubon, but we saw a lot more than birds.

On the drive north we got a preview of the Yooper Cuisine, where vegetables, other than potatoes, rutabaga and ketchup, are only a rumor.

We also got a glimpse of the ice stretching below the Mackinac Bridge, joining the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

Friday was a long day. We were up at 5:30 a.m., nibbled scones and an apple for breakfast, and then drove a total of about 100 miles through the countryside, usually at about 10 m.p.h. so we didn’t miss anything. We had about a dozen stops along the way, one highlight being a park where we could hike a quarter-mile to a latrine. I was glad we had cut back our morning coffee intake.

Our first stop on Friday morning was at the hydro-electric power plant, built in 1898 from rock excavated from the water channel. The headhouse is more than a quarter mile long and contains 80 power turbines that are still generating electricity. We didn’t see any birds of interest, but it was one of my favorite stops.

Here are a few of our bird highlights:

Ruffed Grouse
Ruffed Grouse, profile

Pine Grosbeak

Herring Gulls in Snow

Along the way we saw some barns that showed up too late for our blog post of barn photos:

And we saw some Northern Michigan snowscapes:

We got back to the motel a little before 5. The plan was to rest a bit, then go looking for Short-Eared Owls, then go to dinner. Then do it all again on Saturday, and again for most of Sunday. At that point we had already seen six new species, and we were tired (Kim had slept only 2 hours, and I am getting old), so we decided to follow the advice of Barry Goldwater concerning how to end the War in Viet Nam: Declare victory and go home. We thanked our fellow birders, especially Leonard, our guide, and left for home on Saturday morning.

But our winter adventure was not over. On the drive home we stopped in and around Petosky for some photos:

Oak Leaf

Ice Cave
Winter Fun

This is the actual color of the ice here on Lake Michigan.

And when we got home, we took a short drive to visit Socia, our local Snowy Owl.


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