Sunday, July 4, 2010

Gray jays, and not much else

It seems to be a pattern, that some of the nicest walks in terms of scenery, historical interest or similar are the least birdy, and many areas that look like waste-spaces, scrubby and neglected, are simply bursting with birds. This trend has certainly proved to be true for my Weekend of Northern Birding. The best spot has been the scrubby ATV trail by my parents' house. In the other places we have been--a trail dropping down the the Sturgeon River, ruins of old mines, lovely views of the lake--the birds have been few and far between.

Yesterday morning I wanted to go to the Baraga Plains to see gray jays. Along the way, we saw a mother common merganser and her adorable chicks in the Keweenaw Bay. Three of the chicks at a time would climb upon the mother's back, with the others scurrying behind her as quickly as they could. At the plains, we did find a pair of gray jays, which was very nice. Not much else, though. The scenery was pretty. We saw a handmade sign that said "Tibbett's Falls" and went off the beaten path, finding a trail down to the river. It was more like rapids than falls, but nice, with the dramatic sound of rushing water.

In the evening we headed for the Central Mine in Keweenaw County to look for grouse. Three kinds of grouse live up here; none could be found. We did see a black bear, ambling across the road as we walked up it. My first sighting of a bear--luckily, the bear showed no interest in us whatsoever.

Today another trip to Keweenaw County turned up no grouses. The area was busy with people enjoying the long weekend, and very hot -- not what I expect from the U.P. -- so we turned back after lunch.

In the evening I will take a last stroll down the ATV trail. So far that's where I've had the best luck. Sorry no pictures from this trip--Greenturtle couldn't come and I'm not much of a photographer.

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