Luce, Schoolcraft and Chippewa Highlights
wuepperj at hotmail.com
Wed May 5 11:29:29 EDT 2004
As is usual in May, I am swamped with bird reports, and I do not have enough
time or space to include all on the Michigan Rare Bird Alert. Below is a
copy of a post, compiled by Rick Baetsen. There are many interesting
sightings from Michigan's central Upper Peninsula, all in late April and
first few days of May:
"post below from 5/04
>>>>>I spent April 27th through May 01st, up in Chippewa, Luce and
Schoolcraft Counties, conducting annual grouse and owl surveys, along with
searching for boreal forest birds.
Some of the more interesting sightings included:
Chippewa County, Hiawatha National Forest, April 27th, nocturnal owl survey
located six northern saw-whet owls.
Chippewa County, Hiawatha National Forest, Hendrie River Swamp, April 28th,
located six spruce grouse, which included five males and one female calling
from the top of a jack pine tree. Also observed four gray jays, one boreal
chickadee, in the areas of the moist soils with black spruce and tamarack
trees as dominant forest cover. There was bark-flecking signs of black
backed woodpeckers in this area, but I did not observe any birds.
Chippewa County, Tahquamenon Rivermouth Region. Located two black backed
woodpeckers. One was on the west side of M-123 in black spruce forest, at
end of service road, just south of the River Rd entrance to the lower river
state park campground. Another black backed woodpecker was observed along
the Emerson foot trail on the east side of M-123, also two boreal chickadees
were observed in the dense black spruce forest along this trail. This trail
starts on M-123, at Emerson State Historical Marker Sign and goes south and
east back to the old town site of Emerson. The best boreal forest bird
habitat is in the first portion of the trail, in the black spruce forest,
before it opens up to more of a tag alder and aspen forest. Two ruffed
grouse were located on drumming logs in the hardwood portion of this trail.
An American Bittern was observed and calling in the swamp near M-123, at
location about a mile south of the river mouth, where road goes into the
boat landing for Whitefish Bay. There have been reports from locals of up
to a dozen or more sharp-tailed grouse perched in aspens and birches in the
opening at this location.
Luce County, April 28th, observed a Common Raven on a nest.
Luce County, April 29th, in the area of the Pike Lake Pine Barrens and large
expansive clear-cuttings, I observed three sharp-tailed grouse. This is the
first observation I have had of the birds moving into the large openings
created in northern Luce County. In the mid morning to midday portion of the
29th in the Swamp Lakes Region. Located a total of eight spruce grouse,
including seven males and one female. The female was found at the exact
location that we had a female during our boreal forest tour of the area on
May 15th of last year. The bird was picking up grit on the two-track, right
under the pink forestry tape that I had put up to mark its location last
year. This may be the last year for the bird at this location though, as
the trees on the two-track boundary are marked with red paint for a
clear-cut. At the fire/burn location at the north end of Swamp Lakes, I had
three black backed woodpeckers, and bark flecking sign, suggests that they
are still really utilizing the area. I heard a number of sandhill cranes,
but did not see only a few of these birds, and think that most are likely
incubating on eggs at this time. In the Homestead Lake area to the west of
Swamp Lakes I observed one boreal chickadee. I located two belted
kingfisher dens in the sandy exposed banks near the boreal forest ponds of
the area. On the hike I also surprised three turkey vultures off one of the
two-tracks, I noted no road kill in the area and though fairly common in
southern Luce County in open field regions, they are not too common in
northern Luce County.
That same afternoon, April 29th, I stopped at Little Perch Lake, near
Junction of Luce Co. roads 414 and 423, to search for the American
Three-toed Woodpecker that I observed there in early September of last year.
No bird was observed, but there is a lot of bark flecking in the area to the
west and south of the lake, suggesting it or other woodpeckers are at least
still utilizing the area.
Schoolcraft County, April 29th, in the afternoon, I located four spruce
grouse, all males in the jack pines and boreal forests along the Fox River
Truck Trail, about four to five miles west of the town of Seney. A single
gray jay was noted, carrying food, it is possible it had a nest somewhere
Schoolcraft County, Seney National Wildlife Refuge. A search for ruffed
grouse drumming on logs, in hopes of locating a red or intermediate brown
color phased bird, located six drumming males, five of which I was got close
enough to determine that they were gray phase, the dominant color phase of
the northern hardwood forests. Four American Bitterns were heard calling in
late afternoon. Trumpeter Swans were common. Common Loons had returned and
could be heard calling as evening approached.
An attempt to conduct the nocturnal owl survey on the refuge route that
night was canceled due to winds and light mist and rain.
April 30th, Luce County, Natalie State Forest Campground, Lake Superior
State Forest, at Dollarville Flooding, west of Newberry. I located three
boreal chickadees in the boreal forest, in region from the RR tracks to the
north and into the campground. There was a lot of woodpecker activity on
the conifer trees, but I noted no birds this day. I did hear an American
Bittern calling from the swamp, in region just south of the RR tracks. This
is some really good boreal forest bird habitat in area near the campground
and worth the quick ride north off the Dollarville Rd, if one should be in
Schoolcraft County, Seney NWR, April 30th, a nocturnal survey for northern
saw-whet owls this night, located 14 northern saw-whet owls, two barred owls
and one great horned owl. A number of American Bitterns were heard calling
in the evening before the survey was started after it got dark.
Most of the two-tracks leading into the sharp-tailed grouse dancing grounds
in Schoolcraft and Alger County are still blocked with deep snows, some
still too deep to get through with a four wheel drive vehicle. On the two
days I was able to get into some of the leks, I located a total of 67
sharp-tailed grouse on five historical openings. This does include the
three that I had in northern Luce County.
I plan to return again in about a week, to conduct additional grouse and owl
surveys and will make a post of my findings after that trip north.
Walloon Lake, Pike Lake
P.O. Box 623
Walloon Lake, MI 49796
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