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Michael and Teresa McGill are passionate nature videographer and photographers. They began their journey over twenty years ago after a strange encounter with an exotic bird walking through a marsh in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. They investigated its origin and discovered it to be a Sandhill Crane. This nonaggressive, unique bird has recently made a strong resurgence in the State of Michigan.
Meet the McGills
Michael and Teresa spend as much time as possible in the"wilds" of Northern Michigan. It is amazing what wonderful world of nature has been uncovered right here in their own backyard. They also spend a great deal of their free time at Seney National Wildlife Refuge in Seney, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula. This Refuge holds a special place in the hearts of Michael & Teresa. It is, in fact, a 'refuge' for them providing them with a peaceful, serene place to do what they love most-photograph and film Michigan's wonderful wildlife.
Teresa journals everything she see when at the Refuge. She shares her finding with the Refuge. They have met many interesting people on these journeys. While on one of their many visits to the Refuge they met a young doctoral assistant, Mike Wierda, from Clemson University, South Carolina. He was working on a fifteen year study of the Great Lakes Eco System. Part of that study includes the American Bald Eagle. They check the toxin levels, measure and band the young eaglets of five to seven weeks old. After a three hour visit, he bought some of Teresa's photos and they made plans for to go along with him to band eaglets. What is it they say about being in the right place at the right time? Check out the 'Eagle Banding' page for more information.
To add to their adventures, they discovered a farmer, Jim Habasco, in their area who has been putting out carrion for the Bald Eagles in the winter for the last twenty years. Of course, after another lengthy and interesting conversation, they set up a small blind on his farm. Whenever they got the chance, and the weather cooperated, they would spend ten to twelve hours in a 4x6 blind with a portable heater, port-a- pot, photography equipment, backpack full of food and Teresa's laptop, of all things. They have become more sophisticated in their blind. Michael has now built a 'commercial' grade blind at their home. Teresa can now enjoy the winter raptors up close and personal. Their refurbished 1955 Gem Travel Trailer is now their photo studio/accomodations for their wildlife adventures in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Sadly Teresa doesn't share her journals regarding the location of wildlife. So many unsrupulous individuals use them to find and stalk the wildlife...causing extensive grief to the poor wildlife. But if you want to follow their adventures visit them on Facebook-McGill's Nature in Motion.
They have also been very fortunate to meet Kris & Dixie Stewart owners of the Tahquamenon Falls Riverboat Ride and Toonerville Trolley. Michael and Teresa have enjoyed many a trip with Captain Kris who has run this Riverboat Tour for over thirty years. He shares his knowledge of wildlife and nature along with a historical commentary of the area as he navigates the river. They have shared their love of photography and nature which lead to where they are now- in a 'bear blind' along the tracks of the Toonerville Trolley. Sadly due the pandemic...they haven't been to their blind. Now that Teresa is retired they hope to return. But the bear population is decreasing, sadly. And after the loss of Momma Blaze several years ago, it just hasn't been the same.
Kris and Dixie have opened their arms and their property to the McGills. They have taken extra pains and shared their valuable time to help the McGills prepare the blind. Words cannot express the McGills gratitude for the Stewarts continued kindness and generosity.
So the McGills are glad to share their experiences and photography with all of you. Check out Teresa's Soo Junction Journal page. Hope you enjoy! If you get a chance check out the Stewarts websitewww.trainandboattours.comor check them out on Facebook-Tahquamenon Falls Riverboat Tour and the Famous Toonerville Trolley Train Ride. The McGills share their photos with them to use on their sites-so enjoy!
Michael & Teresa like to think they are just ordinary people discovering extraordinary things in this wonderful State of Michigan that they call home. They hope to spread the word about what this amazing State has to offer from the Pictured Rock National Lakeshore, to the Bald Eagles that have made a spectacular comeback, to the multitudes of other hidden treasures that their Great Lakes State has to offer. Check out more of Teresa's photos on McGill's Nature in Motion on Facebook.
The first photo is of a five week old Bald Eagle taken when the McGills were privileged to go with the research team from Clemson University to band eaglets.
The second photo is Michael filming the local Sandhills at Seney National Wildlife Refuge whom Teresa nicknamed Frik and Frak.
The third photo was taken by Teresa at Seney National Wildlife Refuge of a female gray wolf. She hung the area off and on for two weeks.
The Bottom Row is of the Toonerville Trolley and a few of the black bears the McGills have been fortunate enough to photograph and film.
Momma Blaze waiting for the train which equals treats. One of Beulah's twin cubs from this year. And little Ole checking out the speeder.
HOW TO OBSERVE & PHOTOGRAPH WILDLIFE
The McGills have been enjoying wildlife photography and videography for over nineteen years now. They have learned many, many lessons throughout those years. Sometimes it just takes trial and error to really know what it the best way to approach your subject. The McGills have learned that one must study the behavior of their subject…where it lives, where and when it feeds and where and when it has its young. These are all important factors to help you locate your subject. Patience, timing and luck are also major factors in your success! Getting the perfect shot though is entirely up to you.
That is why the McGills have made Seney National Wildlife Refuge their home away from home. It is wonderful to have access to this amazing sanctuary. With minimal traffic and no floatation devices allowed on the water, SNWR is a haven for wildlife and wildlife photography!
The McGills traverse the Refuge monitoring where the wildlife is located. They also monitor when certain species are breeding and nesting. This allows them to know when to anticipate the arrival of the offspring of that species. Teresa journals all of their findings but only shares them with the Refuge staff. Too many unscrupulous photographers not concerned with the safety of the wildlife they do not appreciate and understan...sadly. By returning to the same area at different times of the day and seasons, you learn when what is where!
Here are a few of the McGills valued thoughts on how to approach wildlife. First…dress appropriate…camouflage or various shades of khaki and army green helps you blend into your surroundings. Also wear long trousers and boots…you never know what you may be walking into. Also the bugs are not as attracted to camouflaged clothing as they are to bare skin!
Next…stay as low to the ground and the subject as possible. Wildlife can feel intimidated by the stature of its ‘attacker’. Try to limit eye contact…if your subject doesn’t think you are watching it, it won’t feel as nervous.
Very important is to be quiet!!! The less noise and commotion you cause…the better! No quick movements or erratic behavior!
Study your subject…the McGills had been monitoring a pair of common loons on G Pool at SNWR. They knew when the loons had started to build their nest and when they starting sitting on their nest. Knowing that loons incubate their eggs from 28-32 days, the McGills were very lucky to be there the morning at G Pool hatched their first egg! They had woken up to mediocre weather but Teresa felt that this would be the day. So they headed into the Refuge to sat and wait. The clouds started to clear as the sun rose. The female was on the nest when the McGills arrived. They waited and watched. The male loon came to check on her. An eagle flew over and the male went into the yodel call warning ‘enemies beware’. The female started to fidget. She was getting more and more hyper acting. After the male warded off a snapping turtle in the area he came over to the nest. The female slipped off the nest to reveal their first chick!! The parents started in with the laughing call. It was like they were announcing to the world the arrival of their first baby!! It was so awe inspiring!! It is a moment the McGills will never forget! They continued to monitor the nest for over eleven hours that day. They were rewarded with the sight of the chick in the water for the first time, riding its momma’s back and the birth of the second chick. All this was possible because they knew how to be ‘invisible’! They also believe that wildlife connects with us all on a certain level. Those loons knew the McGills and knew there was no threat from them. Believe it or not, something very special happened that day, for whatever reason.
The first photo is the of the G Pool loons that Michael & Teresa filmed and photographed for over eleven hours.
Next photo is a family of trumpeter swans that Teresa was able to capture by quietly and inconspicuously approaching them.
Last photo is a momma and young pied billed grebe. If they discover you they quickly submerge like a submarine and disappear into the distance.
To learn more about Seney National Wildlife Refuge visit them at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/seney/ Remember they are are your Wildlife Refuges. Visit them. Support them.