Historic Birch Lodge

Historic Birch Lodge
Historic Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI

Monday, July 23, 2012

Seeburg Juke Boxes at Birch Lodge

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Seeburg Jukeboxes, Birch Lodge, Trout Lake MI
Well, guests escaping the hot weather at Birch Lodge will now have some COOL music to go with the cool breezes.  The 1962 Seeburg console (LPC-1) juke box we played in the Birch Bar before it broke down last year has been repaired.  Even better, the 1953 Seeburg Selecto-O-Matic 100G that we vfound stashed in the corner of one of the old lodge rooms has been repaired and restored. 

1953 Seeburg Selectomatic, Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI
Seeburg Select-O-Matic 100G
We wrestled both boxes onto a trailer and hauled them down to Jenison, MI where John Reed of New Play juke box (www.newplayjukebox.com) worked his magic and returned both machines to action.  The Select-O-Matic when originally produced had clear plastic columns on either side of the speaker that had animation.  Bar owners almost immediately began complaining because patrons would break them while "nudging" the machine if their quarter got stuck.  The chrome columns on our machine were designed to survive such treatment. 

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What brings the Birch Bar past alive in this sense is that the column on our machine below the coin slot had a big old dent in it.  New Play would have replaced it but we had John bump it out and leave ripples - more "authentic."  Besides, Bill won't feel as badly if the juke box needs some nudging  so that he can retrieve one of his quarters(!)

We had some fun rummaging through and loading the Select-O-Matic with old 45rpm records we found stored in the lodge, and the Console box was already loaded.  I'd like to write some more, but the Birch Bar is calling me to sit down and listen to "String of Pearls," "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo," "Mac the Knife," and "A Pretty Girl is Like a Memory" . . . Six for a Quarter!!!!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

American Burying Beetle in Michigan

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American Burying Beetle
Last night I went into our laundry to get some clothes out of the dryer.  When I stepped in I noticed a smell....I thought there must me a dead mouse somewhere, maybe in the barn next door.  Sniffing my way over to the shared wall, I noticed a bright orange and black colored beetle in my laundry box. 

I thought "But it isn't as big"....thinking back to those other beetles I met a couple of years ago.  I called to Bill, and he scooped the guy up with a dustpan, and tossed it outside---by the way, it gave off a very unpleasant odor....like a dead mouse.  I think the odor in the laundry was from this guy!
(Not Bill--the beetle).

So here is the story of my sighting of the American Burying Beetle, (photo above by Ohio Dept of Natural Resources) which is very rare in Michigan.
We were living over at Blush Lake, in the Big Island Lake Wilderness Area southeast of Munising, MI at the time.

 I was walking along  a path cut into the slope along the west side of the lake, when I noticed a rodent carcass.  It was in the spring, and it was a biggish rodent, smaller than a squirrel, but bigger than a mouse, with few identifying markings.   Always curious, I looked closer, and poked at its bushy tail with a stick to move it out of the leaves and get a better look.   Then it happened....the carcass began to MOVE.   The whole darn thing wiggled and tossed, and flipped over on the hillside in the process.  Then I saw two BIG orange and black beetles, I haven't seen anything like them since I worked down in Mexico--where there are lots of big bugs.  Shocked the heck out of me to see anything like this in the north woods.  (Oh, and I am very familiar with many varieties of dung beetles, and that is sure what they weren't. )   Anyway, in a flash they had burrowed into the ground and were gone. 

Fast forward a year, and we picked up a book on endangered species in Michigan.  Paging through it I saw those beetles.   I mentioned them to the folks at the Forest Service, but no one ever followed up.  So I more or less forgot about it until last night.  
Roundneck Sexton Beetle

Certain that I could not see something that rare twice, I looked up orange and black beetles online and learned that there is a similar beetle called the Roundneck Sexton Beetle, nicrophorus orbicollis ( photo from wikipedia by Michael Oliver)  which is smaller.  I a convinced this is what I saw in my laundry.  But now I am even more certain that what I did see at Blush Lake was the American Burying Beetle.  THEY WERE BIG. 

So there is my story and I'm sticking to it.  Perhaps you may think I have a Beetle in my bonnet, but at least I don't have one in my laundry box.....

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Connecticut Warblers at Trout Lake, MI

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Last year we hosted several birders who were in the area to look for Connecticut warblers.  One of them shared his copy of "A Birder's Guide to Michigan" by Chartier and Ziarno.  It is an amazing book detailing locations to view various species throughout the state.  We picked up our own copy last winter.

This spring we had more birders in search of these elusive little birds.  The birders only stayed one evening and had no luck.  The next day we decided to explore for ourselves.  We grabbed the camera, the book, maps, and forgot the binocs..good we live in the area!

Forest route FR3344 (aka 3343 on the Hiawatha Forest Map) is about a mile and a half north of Trout Lake, MI off of M-123.  There is a sign on the west side about the Ellis Memorial Snowmobile Trail. 

The viewing area is about 1.5-3.0 miles west of this point.  Note this is a sand two track used by loggers and ORV's so it can be pretty rough.  Also be aware that cell phone reception in this area is spotty at best.  The road passes along a sand ridge between low boggy bottoms.

It is not the end of the earth, but I am pretty sure you could see it from here... 

We heard lots of birds, and we could have seen more with the binocs.  Every time we were close enough to identify, off they flew!

We did see moose and wolf tracks, and a dragonfly which we hoped was a rare Ringed Boghaunter--but it wasn't. 

We decided to try our luck on the area east of M-123.  The road runs along the ridge bordering a large open marsh, which is one of my favorite areas here.  Looks VERY wild.  But it was getting late and we did not see or hear one bird.

  Then all of a sudden we caught a fleeting glimpse of a small bird, khaki brown green and yellowish underneath.

 And it was gone... I know the odds are against it, but maybe it was our warbler....and I could swear I could hear it laughing....