Saturday, April 23, 2011
Whitefish Point, April 2011
The weather was nice so we took a quick trip to see what was happening up on Whitefish Point, north of Paradise, MI. At Birch Lodge, the water from the river at the end of the motel drains into Big Trout Lake, and has kept an area of water open in front of the motel and lodge. We noticed some Common Mergansers, Tundra Swans, and Canada Geese there, and thought we should see what birds were visible at Whitefish Point.
Although the snow was pretty well off the ground in Trout Lake, MI, just an hour to the North, the snow was still about 7-8" deep. The sunny blue sky also abated, and a strong wind had picked up from the north off of Lake Superior. Whitefish Point is always one of my favorite places to go. As you approach Whitefish Point the vegetation seems almost tundra like, but just south of the Tahquamenon River this gives way to beautiful piney dunes.
We were hoping to see some migratory birds at the point, but not much was flying. The trails were roped off to discourage foot traffic. They were doing night time netting and banding of owls, and did not want their pathways disturbed during the day. The observatory gift shop was closed. We still enjoyed walking out to the lake shore to the North. The beautiful stones always seem other-worldly. On the horizon, beyond the edge of the ice, a freighter was making way on Lake Superior.
The Whitefish Point Light is a functional light as well as an interpretive museum. Also closed on our visit, but this wasn't our destination today, and we will return another day.
Our efforts to see migratory birds were rewarded when we stopped along the mouth of the Tahquamenon River.
Small flocks of mergansers and waterfowl were visible on the bends of the river.
But our favorite sighting was of this Great Egret wading along the drainage ditch right along the road.
The birds are definitely on the move, and we will return in a few weeks to do some more serious birding then.