Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Life Birds 456 and 457: Summer in the UP of Michigan

As my brother and I headed for the UP, we had high hopes of getting three lifers each. We knew it would be difficult since the summer is not the best time to visit northern Michigan, but we still believed that we could find our target species. We set out in search of Spruce Grouse, Boreal Chickadee, and Evening Grosbeak but didn’t realize how difficult these species really are during the summer months.

After the first five days of the trip, neither of us had seen a lifer yet - but that was about to change. On our final night in the UP, we went to Whitefish Point to look for birds and to photograph the sunset. While the sunset did not allow for great photographs, one bird completely made up for it. As we entered the wooded area behind the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory, we heard a rustling noise to our left. As we turned to find the cause of the commotion, a juvenile Northern Goshawk took flight and flew past us at a distance of only 30 feet or so.

This was a lifer for me and quite an exciting bird to see even if it was only for 10 seconds! The Goshawk flew over the trees and out of sight never to be seen again. We continued to bird the area, but it appeared that the Goshawk must have scared everything away. We saw no other lifers that day but were very happy to see such an awesome bird of prey!

The next morning we were able to do a little birding at Tahquamenon Falls State Park before we had to head out of the UP and back home. We got to the park very early and were the only people there when we arrived. While hiking to the Upper Falls, we came upon a male Blackburnian Warbler feeding a fledgling at eye level. It was an amazing experience to be able to watch this beautiful bird so closely!

Tahquamenon Falls

Upper Tahquamenon Falls

When we got back to the parking lot, Eric thought he heard the call of an Evening Grosbeak so we set off in search of it. As we headed toward the sound, it seemed to move farther and farther away. After hiking around for a few minutes, we heard the call and again but this time it seemed to be right above us. We were able to quickly spot a single young male Evening Grosbeak singing incessantly in the tree. After a few minutes, it flew to another tree and perched out in the open this time. This was extremely exciting as it was a lifer for both of us.

While we only got one of our three target species, it was still a great trip. The scenery is beautiful, and I got to see a moose for the first time ever. I suggest that everyone make a trip to the UP.


Kelly said...

...glad you found the Goshawk. Went to the UP in the autumn when I was in school. One of the most beautiful places I'd ever seen.

MaR said...

It's on my list of places to visit!! wonderful shots!