Well as predicted the day was dark and dreary but not too damp as we entered the Refuge for the last time this year. It is always with heavy hearts that we make our final run of the year…drinking in the peaceful calming effect this place has on us.
We did spot a great blue heron on F Pool along the shore behind the Refuge offices. There were few pied billed grebes and small scatterings of ring-necked ducks but not as many as yesterday.
We were happy to see our E Pool eagle on its tree along the Marshland Drive. He allowed me to take a few photos before taking off to continue his hunt. We didn’t see as much of them this year as we usually do. This is the second year in a row that they had a failed nest. Hopefully they will be more successful in the spring. We love to be able to observe them as they tend their nests and their young. Of course, it’s also great to watch the young learning to fly and being taught to fend for themselves.
We spot four young hooded mergansers feeding in C channel. Across the way on E Pool the large raft of over a hundred ring-necked ducks and redhead ducks is still hanging out on the Refuge before they continue their migration south. Four more hooded mergansers fly into the west end of E Pool.
Our coots are still in the same area on C Pool busily diving, eating and fighting. I hate to say goodbye to them. Hopefully I will see them down my way later this fall. I have a favorite little spot I like to check out on my way to work where they will stop and rest before heading farther south.
We had pair of trumpeter swans fly into the east end of C Pool where we were watching a lone male wood duck…the only one we saw today. We also spotted a harrier soaring high above.
The trumpeter swans with their lone surviving cygnet were on the end of C Pool in the cove. I took a little walk over to get a photo of them. The cygnet decided to come over to where I was for some up close up shots. I wished them a safe and healthy winter…hoping to see them here in the spring. It was a very nice way to end our last day on the Refuge for the 2014 season. We will be counting the days till we get to return.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal October 19, 2014
We woke up to a beautiful crisp clear frosty fall morning. It was 31 degrees and mostly sunny as we entered the Refuge. What a gift we have been given on our last weekend on the Refuge.
We spotted a great blue heron way down along F Pool…too far out for a photo. It was at least nice to see one still hanging out on the Refuge.
A small flock of ring-necked ducks were feeding in F Pool along with a few pied billed grebes. Small flocks of ring-necks are scattered around E Pool. But they are very skittish…and take off as soon as we get close to them. We were the first ones on the Refuge so we got to wake everything up.
A large gathering of ring-necks and redheads were at the west end of E Pool. They, too, took off when we slowed down. They didn’t fly too far…just far enough. We also spotted some hooded mergansers on the west end of E Pool.
A pileated woodpecker flew across in front of us in C marsh. We even spotted a few wood ducks further down on C Pool. We were disappointed that the wood ducks were not as plentiful this fall. The harsh winter and cold spring took a toll on so much wildlife this year.
We were so excited as we rounded a corner on C Pool and spotted the American Coots right near the shore. I was able to sneak up on them and get down in the pucker brush to sit and photograph them. I spent close to an hour with them…watching them feed…fighting with each other…trying to take the food the other dove down to get. They would move in waves….coming in close to where I was…then moving over to the right of me. They did this the whole time I was watching them. I would think they were going to move on…but patience prevailed…and they came right back to me. This is why I love doing what I do….observing wildlife…learning their behaviors…making it easier to figure out just how, when and where to photograph them.
The rest of the morning was fairly uneventful….just a few more ring-necked ducks, pied billed grebes, Canada geese and trumpeter swans along the way.
I took Michael back to the trailer to do some winterizing on it. By the time I got back to the Refuge around 1:00 the clouds were moving in. I spent most of my time back with the coots…just enjoying their company and observing their behaviors. I finally left them around 3:00. Shortly after that it got darker and the rain moved in. But what a beautiful morning we got to spend on the Refuge. Usually this time of year rain and cold are the order of the day.
If tomorrow is cold and gloomy…at least we had today. It was a very fun way to end the season at our favorite place.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal October 12, 2014
We woke up to a beautiful fall day. Temperatures crisp with a little frost here and there. The sun was breaking over the cloud bank that was slowly moving out…giving way to a beautiful morning.
I headed into the Refuge around 8:30am. I was first greeted by a beautiful doe and her spotless fawn on the Entrance road. While I was photographing them a ruffed grouse flew in front of me and a pileated woodpecker flew over me. Yep…it is definitely a great day to be on the Refuge. I had already spotted a juvenile bald eagle and another pileated before I even got to the Refuge.
As I slowed down to look for wood ducks in the small pool in front of the Visitors Center…I spotted movement to my left. A young northern harrier had just landed on a tree stump in the marsh!! I was able to watch it for a while till a movement caused it to fly out farther. I decided to move on…but as I was getting ready to turn on the Marshland drive I spotted yet another young northern harrier out in the marsh. I sat and watched as the two harassed each other. At one point they both were sitting on the same stump…but of course one flew before I got that shot. I followed them for a little till the one finally flew back farther in the marsh and the other sat in the very twiggy tree. What a fun morning!
I spotted a few Canada geese and pied billed grebes at the start of F Pool…but as a rounded a corner there was a raft of redhead ducks!! We had seen some migrating through at the Mackinac Bridge on Saturday…about three hundred. There was also a little horned grebe quietly sitting nearby.
Around another corner and I find more redheads with yet another little horned grebe “standing guard” nearby. As I sat and just observe them…something spooks them and they fly right at me then banking right. Sweet!
As I turn to continue down the Marshland Drive (the Fishing Loop is now closed) I spot a bald eagle sitting in their favorite tree across E Pool along the drive. So I quickly continue on my way. I find a raft of ring-necked ducks with a few pied billed grebes hanging out further down E Pool.
Before I get to the eagle it flies off toward their nesting island. As I round the other side of E Pool I spot the reason why…a third year eagle has infiltrated their air space. The mature eagle was not happy…chasing the younger one off. It is possible that this is their last successful young from three summers ago…it would actually be over two years old but starting its third year of life. The E Pool eagles have not a successful nest these last two summers due the extreme weather conditions in the early spring here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. But no matter…they don’t want their young to live near them.
As continue on my way I spot a couple of hooded mergansers out in the west end of E Pool. Then I spot two more in the little marsh as I start on the C Pool side. They get spooked and fly out of the marsh heading toward the ones on E Pool.
Further down C Pool I spot a little pied grebe enjoying the morning eats….then I see my American coots still hanging out in the middle of C Pool. They have been here for over a week. They must like the eats here on the Refuge.
I spot a few more pied billed grebes scattered throughout the Refuge along with C Pool trumpeter swans and their almost grown cygnet hanging out with some Canada geese. The color is still pretty especially with the beautiful sunshine today.
I end my first run around 11:00 and head right back around to see if I missed anything.
Well, the traffic picked up and the wildlife moved out away from the shore. But I did stop on the west end of E Pool and enjoy some time with the trumpeter swans and their one growing cygnet. The ugly duckling is started to turn into a beautiful creature. Its beak is getting black all around the edge of its pink. Its feather especially when wet are turning to a beautiful silver gray. This young is calling the shots with these two doting parents. It actually came right to me and followed me along the shoreline. What a special day to get to spend time up close and personal with our amazing wildlife.
The sun was fighting the encroaching clouds from the southwest. I would wait patiently for it to break through to get the shots I wanted. I did get to spend time with my American coots. A car would stop…slam their door…scare them off…then slowly they would return to the middle of the pool. I just waited patiently for their return.
I continued to see the little pied billed grebes out along the pools but with the constant traffic they were just out of reach of any good photo opportunities.
I headed back to the trailer to pick up Michael who was doing some work around the trailer. We headed on to the Refuge for a quick afternoon run. Pretty much the same activity…a little less traffic. A couple of male wood ducks were chasing a lone female around in the small pool in front of the V.C.
We did see my doe and her fawn again feeding along one of the closed drives. The redheads and ring-necked ducks were farther out in the pools away from the traffic.
We did spot eight young hooded mergansers feeding on the west end of E Pool along with a couple of young buffleheads. The day ended with the sun breaking out of the clouds.
All and all it was a great day on the Refuge. Just spending some time with my wildlife is always a great way to unwind after a long week of work. Having time with two young Northern harriers was priceless.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal October 6, 2014
We woke to blue skies and sunshine!!! But we got detained getting to the Refuge by migrating horned grebes hanging out on Big Manistique Lake. We spent almost two hours watching these amazing little divers fishing along cove.
We finally got to the Refuge around 11:00 with sunshine, blue skies and temps in the 50’s but very windy.
We didn’t see any signs of ABJ and his two young loons…but that still doesn’t mean that they have left yet. Time will tell.
We were greeted by two ruffed grouse as we entered the Refuge. The male puffed out and strutted across the road in front of us. Sweet!
There were a few wood ducks in the small pool in front of the Visitors Center. The little pied billed grebes are hanging out close to shore. We spotted one little guy that was trying to blend into the downed tree in F Pool.
We spotted a male bufflehead on F Pool…but get too close…it was on the closed Fishing Loop drive.
The little pied billed grebes seem to be the bird of the day…every few feet there seemed to be one popping up out of the water. We did spot two juvenile hooded mergansers on the west end of E Pool.
We were just wondering what happened to all of our great blues when we found a young one hunting near the drive in C marsh. It allowed me to photograph it then slowly walked back into the marsh.
The American coots were still in the same area on C Pool feeding with a flock of ring-necked ducks. A bald eagle soared over them spooking them all…scattering them into the reeds.
I took a walk at the end of C Pool to see if I could spot some wood ducks hiding out of the windy weather. I was excited and surprised to have an American bittern fly out in front of me! Then a small flock of American widgeons flew into the end of C Pool…but out too far for good shots.
I couldn’t get close to the wood ducks but I did have a great blue heron fly into a tree in front of me. When I was walking back I spotted a horned grebe in the small pool. It came right up to where Michael was filming it. Sweet! Then a broad winged hawk flew over the area as we head out of the Refuge…and the clouds started to move in.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal October 5, 2014
We had to finishing taking down our blind along the tracks of the Toonerville Trolley this morning. Momma Blaze was there to say goodbye till next spring.
We finally got to the Refuge around 3:00pm with temps in the 40’s and clouds filling the skies. The North Show Pool’s water levels have been raised…so now egrets or great blues feeding there. The South Show Pool had the trumpeter swans with their almost grown cygnet and a few wood ducks.
We only spotted one wood duck in the small pool near the Visitors Center. I think everything was trying to stay out of the wind.
F Pool had several ring-necked ducks and pied billed grebes…with a wood duck or two weaving out of the tall reeds.
The E Pool eagles were in their favorite tree along the Marshland Drive. But as we got there a car in front of us had pulled off and slammed their door…spooking them off.
We found several pied billed grebes along the shores of E Pool. The Fishing Loop is now closed for the season so it’s the Marshland Drive for us now.
We did spot a couple of kingfishers zipping around trying to stay away from of us…of course. Lots of ring-necked ducks gathering…along with the little pied billed grebes scattered along the shoreline.
We were excited to find a dozen American coots feeding midway along C Pool. They were out too far for decent shots but fun to see them here.
We are amazed at the number of pied billed grebes here on the Refuge. We didn’t have many of them here this summer. So it’s great to see them migrating through.
We spot a northern harrier soaring over the marshes near the end of the drive. We call it a day…early…and hope for the weather to improve tomorrow.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal September 30, 2014
The day started out cold and dreary so we did some winterizing at the trailer. We headed to the Refuge around 12:30pm.
The was a great blue heron, the trumpeter swan family with one cygnet and many wood ducks feeding of the South Show Pool. Another great blue heron and the trumpeter swans were feeding on the North Show Pool.
As luck would have it a male wood duck in fall breeding plumage and one in still molting into his breeding plumage were feeding in the small pool in front of the Visitors Center…in the sunshine. I was a able to get a few shots of them before they disappeared into the marsh.
As we started the drive we spotted a few more wood ducks, several pied billed grebes and ring-necked ducks feeding along the shoreline of F Pool. As we approached the Fishing Loop corner we spotted a juvenile Northern harrier gliding along the shoreline of F Pool. It actually landed temporarily on E Pool then continued its hunt swerving back and forth between F and E Pool. As we crossed the spillway it landed on a downed tree. It sat with its back to us…as we slowly approached it in our vehicle. I was able to sit on the door and shoot over the hood of the truck. I was so excited to get this close to one. It stayed there for several minutes hunting until it finally completely turned its head and looked right at me. Well, it didn’t take it long at that point to decide to be on its merry way…out across F marsh. What a special treat to have on our last day through the Fishing Loop. It always closes on October 1. The Marshland Drive continues to be opened until October 20.
As we continue we spot the trumpeter swans with their one very large cygnet on H Pool. A pair of sandhill cranes flew into H marsh where another pair was feeding. That stirred up the mallards and the lesser yellowlegs that were feeding in the area. The sandhill cranes are migrating through on their way to their fall staging area in Rudyard. There they will wait for the thermals to carry them across the Straits of Mackinac.
There are about a dozen sandhill cranes still hanging out in J Pool feeding before heading south for the winter. We also spot the snow geese that fellow Refuge lovers, Kenneth and Jean Rautiola told us about on J Pool. They were back so far…they looked like trumpeter swans…until you zoomed in on them. There were five white snow geese and one dark with a white head. Cool. Too bad they didn’t work their way in a little closer while we were there.
Then we spot our juvenile great blue heron taking a rest in the J channel. As soon as we approached it started hunting. It always allows us to slowly advance as it works its way along the channel…hunting. I will miss be able to do this next weekend. Oh well, we wish it well…and safe travels this winter.
We stop to check on the shorebirds in J marsh. Nothing…all was quiet…not a bird was stirring. They must have taken advantage of the strong north winds yesterday to carry them southward. What a treat it has been to photograph off these elusive little birds this fall.
The clouds moved back in as we made our way through the rest of the Refuge. The trumpeter swans are still hanging out on G Pool. We also found some migrating white crowned sparrows. We have a great blue heron fly extremely fast over us along C marsh. We found the reason why…another great blue heron was kicking it out of its territory.
Our little pied billed grebes are still scattered around the Refuge…enjoying a little down time before heading south. We end our run around 2:30 as we head home after a great three days in the U.P.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge September 28, 2014
We arrived at the Refuge around 8:30. The sun was starting to break through the thinning clouds. The temperature is 54 degrees with no wind to disturb the glassy clearness of the water. We stopped at the North Show Pool and found a great blue heron feeding in the morning light. The South Show Pool had a pair of sandhill cranes landing near where a great blue heron was feeding. The trumpeter swans with their one cygnet were out feeding with several wood ducks gathering their cast offs.
The wood ducks were in the small pool in front of the Visitors Center. Most of the males are in full fall breeding plumage…beautiful.
As we start the Marshland Drive we spot a pied billed grebe. We spot two more as we drive aong F Pool. It is so good to see so many of them this fall. We sadly didn’t have very many of them on the Refuge this summer. They are relatives to the loons…divers…and walk on water before flying.
We also spot one of the loon chicks out in F Pool. No sign of ABJ and the other one…yet. I am sure they are both still here. ABJ at this point will wait till his two young are ready to head for their wintering grounds.
The E Pool bald eagle pair is standing sentinel at their nest. This is typical behavior for them. They want to make sure that no other pair tries to get take over their territory.
We spot several pair of wood ducks…males and females…that will take off together to their wintering grounds to have another clutch of young there.
Further down we spot a great blue heron flying out of a dead tree along F marsh…and a great egret still sitting in it. We try to carefully sneak up on it. I was able to get some shots of it…but of course there were dead branches right in front of its face. I was able to get a shot as it leapt out of the tree to fly over to H Pool where yet another great blue heron was feeding. This area has been their sweet spot this year. Hopefully when they start the bridge construction on the Fishing Loop they will move out to a pool on the Marshland Drive.
Well it looks like the majority of the sandhill cranes have migrated through. There were less than a dozen on J Pool this morning. There has been upwards of forty or more the last few weeks. I heard there are five hundred plus already gathered at Rudyard…their fall staging area…before heading across the Straits of Mackinac.
As we continue down the drive we spot two great blue herons flying. They must have gotten spooked out the J channel where they like to feed. We also spot two juvenile hooded mergansers preening at the edge of the J marsh.
We stopped to spend time with the shorebirds along J marsh. First I was able to get a shot of a female belted kingfisher on a dead snag. After she took off I noticed two little Wilson snipes preening as they sat on the trunk of the same snag. I was able to get a few shots of them before they flew. Luckily they flew right down to the same hiding spot they have been that last few weeks. So I made my way down to my hiding spot to enjoy the morning. Michael manned his post to film the coming and goings of the solitary sandpipers, lesser yellowlegs and Wilson snipes. We spent over three hours enjoying being up close and personal with these little birds. If you want to really enjoy wildlife you really need to find a spot to just stop and sit and listen and watch. As I was watching the little snipes I could tell when something was flying into the area…they would become very alert. One of those times a great blue heron quietly flew right in front of me. Sweet! If I hadn’t been hunkered down in the brush and muck it would never have flown that close to me. Oh and the belted kingfisher landed in a tree right above me, too. That would definitely not happened if she had known I was there.
The day couldn’t have been more perfect…blue skies…sunshine…and warm…ok maybe just a little too warm. And did I mention there were even a few mosquitoes? It was nicer than it has been all summer.
G Pool has fifty plus trumpeter swans and Canada geese enjoying this beautiful day. Further along on the west end of E Pool the trumpeter swan family and their one cygnet are feeding with several wood ducks around them. We spot a couple more little pied billed grebes…but they are being camera shy. Another pied billed grebe is along the shores of D Pool, too.
C Pool has a host of pied billed grebes scatter throughout its shorelines….along with wood ducks…a few ring-necked ducks…Canada geese and the trumpeter swans.
We start our second run through at 2:00. The clouds are starting to build to the north of us….heading our way.
We spot as least eighteen pied billed grebes scattered throughout the Refuge…along with a lone horned grebe in its non-breeding plumage near the C/B spillway. It’s been a couple of years since we saw one here in about the same area.
We spot one of the loon chicks feeding near the corner of the Marshland Drive and Fishing Loop. Further down the Fishing Loop we spot the other chick and ABJ. If you didn’t look closely you would think he was a young loon. He is molting into his winter plumage…but still has some of his black and white checks on his back. He will stay with his two young till they are ready to leave…probably mid-October.
The great egret is feeding in H Pool and of course flies further back near a great blue heron as we drive by. The Wilson snipes and other shorebirds are still in J marsh but out farther. We are glad we got to spend the more with them up close and personal.
As we drive along the back side of the Fishing Loop we spot two sharp-tailed grouse. Then as we are heading out of the Refuge we spot a male and female ruffed grouse. The male is trying to impress the female. And she is so not impressed. I guess the male thinks it springtime.
We leave the Refuge around 5:30 as the dark clouds start to overtake the sun. What a beautiful day we were given.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge September 21, 2014
We woke up to overcast…gloomy…blustery weather with temps in the 50’s but felt like 30’s. ABJ and his checks were out behind an island too far out for photo ops.
A little pied billed grebe and the trumpeter swans with their one cygnet were in E Pool hanging close to the shore out of the wind.
H Pool has trumpeter swans with their one cygnet, wood ducks and pied billed grebes. A great blue heron flew out of F marsh and across to an island on H Pool. Another great blue heron flew out of a tree across H Pool. A pair of sandhill cranes was feeding near the shore on H Pool. Further down in H marsh another great blue heron and great egret were feeding. They flew further back when we drove by. Another great egret was in a tree along the drive but flew off just as I took a shot of it…flying into H marsh. They are so jumpy!!! URGHHHHHH!
There was over thirty sandhill cranes out feeding J Pool….flying and squawking…still not acting too friendly with each other.
Trumpeter swans and Canada geese were enjoying the eats on G Pool. There were at least eight Northern flickers on an island in the middle of G Pool. While we were watching them a bald eagle flew over.
Ring-necked were gathered on the west end of E Pool. A great blue heron flew out of a tree into C marsh were lots of wood ducks were feeding.
There were pied billed grebes scattered all along the shores of C Pool…at least eight of the little buggers.
We spot a pair of sandhill cranes feeding on the South Show Pool and a very jumpy great blue heron on North Show Pool.
The clouds are still dark and gloomy so we take a break in hopes of better weather…but when we return at 2:30 it’s still gloomy.
We spot a young merlin in a tree along the drive. It is so intent on hunting that it doesn’t even notice us.
Over F Pool we spot a female eagle carrying a stick. The E Pool eagles are probably working on repair their nest for next spring.
We have fun watching the territorial trumpeter swans hassling an intruding pair of swans. The one intruding swan was hiding sticking tight to the shoreline. Its mate was stranded on land with the territorial pair holding it hostage. All of a sudden the territorial pair came charging at the swan along the shore. They were so happy with themselves…bobbing up and down talking to each other. This occurred a couple of more times with the other intruder being chased off and followed by the male trying to catch it in the air. You just never know what you are going to witness….even on a cold gloomy day.
Then we find the older loon chick up near the shore in a cove on F Pool. We spot ABJ and his other chick further out in F Pool.
One of the great egrets was in H marsh with the pair of sandhill cranes. We spot an eagle sitting in the mud on J Pool. It looked like it may have been ‘duck’ hunting. Another eagle was sitting in a tree along the drive. The one flew north away from us…the other flew off to the south…away from us.
We spot a great blue heron in J channel but it took off immediately. There were solitary sandpipers and lesser yellowlegs still hanging out in J marsh. A northern harrier flew over…but still too far away for a good photo.
We then spot another northern harrier flying across G Pool checking out the shorelines of the islands. It landed a couple of times but didn’t catch anything.
We spot two sandhills in E marsh then a great blue heron in D marsh. We leave the Refuge around 5:30 to still very gloomy skies…but still a great day to be here.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge September 16, 2014
We woke up to a gorgeous day. We were truly blest to have an extra day at our favorite spot…Seney National Wildlife Refuge. It was 50 degrees and clear blue skies as we enter the Refuge around 10:00.
The South Show Pool had a great blue heron, trumpeter swans with one cygnet and wood ducks. The North Show Pool had two great blue herons and a pair of trumpeter swans.
We were lucky to find ABJ and his two young feeding near the shoreline…if only for a short time. Our time with them is coming to an end...they will be leaving soon for their wintering grounds. We wish them safe travels…and hope to see them back next spring…especially ABJ.
As we enter the Fishing Loop we spot three little pied billed grebes near the shore. They are young ones. They are on their own and ready to face this great big world and their first migration.
I got out to shoot some shorebirds along H Pool. They took off…because a Northern harrier flew over. Michael said the harrier flew within three feet of the truck! Whatever! I’m sure if I had been there with my camera out the window it would have veered off…right???
The trumpeter swans with their one cygnet were out on H Pool. Further down we spot the two great egrets…and several great blue herons. As I was getting ready to shoot one of the great blue herons it took off…because a pair of bikers was coming from the other direction and spooked it…and another one.
There were still quite a few sandhill cranes on J Pool but they, too, had been spooked by the bikers and were further out…some flew off.
J marsh had several shorebirds. There were a half dozen lesser yellowlegs and solitary sandpipers. Then we spotted some Wilson snipes that flew out of an area close to the shore. We watched them feeding…then I spotted a snipe close to the shore…sleeping. I was able to get down in the muck near the shore. As I was shooting the one…I noticed movement behind it. I discovered three more snipes also sleeping. Eventually, one of them wandered down to the water’s edge to wash and preen. How amazing is that?! As I looked to the right of me…three of them were near the water…giving me great reflection shots! All of a sudden my snipes on the shore were on high alert…a northern harrier came swooping by. It actually landed in a tree where another one flew by…then they both took off to the south. I got some sweet shots of the ones on shore alert and hiding in the brush. I could have stayed there all day but unfortunately we had to head back home in the afternoon. So I had to be content with about two hours with them.
As we continued through the Refuge we spotted several more pied billed grebes…wood ducks…ring-necked ducks…great blue herons…Canada geese and trumpeter swans. We ended our run at 2:00. It makes it harder to go home when the weather is so perfect and the wildlife so co-operative.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge September 15, 2014
After a beautiful but cool morning along the tracks of the Toonerville Trolley with our black bears we head into the Refuge around 3:00 with partly sunny skies giving way to clouds. The North Show Pool has a great blue heron and a pair of trumpeter swans with one cygnet.
As we are starting the Marshland Drive we spot a white-tailed doe and fawn that still has spots on it. They quickly vanish into the underbrush.
We spot pied billed grebes and wood ducks in E Pool along with another great blue heron in E marsh.
The two great egrets were out a too far in H Pool once again. The sandhills were out too far in J Pool. But we did spot a sharp-tailed grouse with five young!!! It’s nice to see that some of them had success.
J marsh still had some lesser yellowlegs and solitary sandpipers but not as many as yesterday.
We decide to make one last run through as it looked like the clouds might dissipate.
A pair of sandhill cranes is on an island in H Pool where we were held up by a truck parked in the road…so we wouldn’t disturb them. Whatever…that caused us to miss shots of a great egret being chased out of a tree along F marsh. They would have been in a perfect location and perfect lighting for me…oh well. Then yet another great egret came out of a tree along with two other great blues! What the heck!!! Timing and luck….timing and luck…sometimes they are not working in your favor.
But I did get to spend a little time photographing two sandhill cranes in the soft evening lighting. It was so nice not to have them quickly walk away from us…like usual. So we knew the eats must be sweet in the mud along J Pool.
Further down I got another few nice shots of another pair of sandhill cranes that weren’t as co-operative.
Yeah…the young great blue heron was back out enjoying the beautiful evening along J channel. I was able to follow it once again…for as long as I wanted…or until a vehicle forced us to move on.
We spot a lone merlin being harassed by a flock of blue jays. Don’t they realize he could take them out with one swoosh of his talons? I guess it’s just like the little birds that bother the eagles…safety in numbers and mob support.
It is so great to be seeing so many great blue herons on the Refuge again. Where ever we look we see them hunting in the marshes and pools. We end the day with a positive feeling and happy to know we get to spend one more day on our Refuge.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge September 14, 2014
We woke up to overcast skies and temperatures in the forties. We entered the Refuge around 9:30. The South Show Pool had a pair of trumpeter swans with their one cygnet. The North Show Pool had two great blue herons out feeding along the far shoreline.
The small pool in front of the Visitors Center had quite a few wood ducks in various stages of eclipsing into their fall breeding plumage. A great blue heron was hunting in the marsh at the start of F Pool. We didn’t see ABJ and his family this morning…hopefully we’ll see them later.
The two bald eagles are standing sentinel over their nest on E Pool. They will start working on their nest…making repairs so when they are ready to nest…it will be ready for them. Of course, there is always some damage from the winter weather…but they have more time to do any major repairs.
A little pied billed grebe is harboring closer to shore on this dismal morning. It is all alone and just a juvenile. I feel so bad for the little ones that are left to fend for themselves. Nature can be beautiful but it can be cruel.
As we are heading along the Fishing Loop two great blue herons flew right at us. The one was chasing the other out of its ‘territory’. The other one landed in a tree…for a minute or two before going after the other one.
Just down the drive we spot a third great blue heron sitting in another tree. It seemed to be just chilling out waiting for the weather to clear, too.
We spot the two great egrets…clear on the backside of H Pool. I guess we won’t be getting any shots of them this morning. Actually a gloomy day is a much better day to shoot white birds…not as much glare from the sun.
There is a pair of wood ducks on H Pool but they take off…of course…before I can shoot them. A kingfisher and yet another great blue heron do the same thing to me. Not looking like a good day for this photographer.
We count at least forty sandhill cranes still hanging out on J Pool along with some trumpeter swans and lots of Canada geese. We spy a young eagle flying along the west end of J Pool. It actually landed in a tree but was gone before we got down that far.
There are lots of little shorebirds flying around…and lots of sandhill cranes flying around disturbing other sandhills. They are definitely not ready to socialize and gather for their fall migration…yet.
J marsh has quite a few trumpeter swans and Canada geese feeding there, too. Then we spot lots of little solitary sandpipers…lesser yellowlegs…and Wilson snipes!!! We spend quite a while enjoying the activity all around us. I was able to sneak out into the marsh a little ways to capture some of the action. The sun even made an appearance for a little while.
We spot an osprey fishing over G Pool. It must be migrating because ours have left the Refuge already to make their long trek to South America. We also have a little juvenile pied billed grebe along the shoreline. The poor things seemed so lost.
We spot several more pied billed grebes along C Pool…most of them are young but not all of them are alone. We have a great blue heron at the end of C Pool before we head out at 2:00.
We took a break in hopes that the weather might clear off…but it really didn’t. So we headed back on the Refuge around 5:00. The wood ducks were out and about along with the little pied billed grebes.
We got to spend a little time with ABJ and his two full grown young on F Pool. It looks like his mate finally left for her winter grounds. The females usually leave in August. This year she stayed till mid-September. Maybe she is taking parenting lessons from her mate…the best parent on the Refuge with now 24 successful young raised.
We spot great blue herons out in the marshes along E and H. There are still lots of sandhill cranes on J Pool. We spot a young great blue heron on J channel. It is totally oblivious to me photographing it. I was able to shoot it from almost one end of the channel to the other…watching it catch several things to eat.
Another great blue heron is on the west end of E Pool…another in C marsh…along with lots of wood ducks. Ring-necked ducks and pied billed grebes are at the end of C Pool as we head out of the Refuge around 7:00.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge September 7, 2014
We headed into the Refuge around 8:30 to clear skies and 57 degrees. We spot a pair of sandhill cranes and one colt in the South Show Pool along with a great blue heron. The North Show Pool had greater yellowleg and trumpeter swans.
The wood ducks are showing up in larger numbers on the pool in front of the Visitors’ Center. The males are still in various stages of eclipsing into their fall breeding plumage.
ABJ and one of his young are just heading out away from the shoreline as we drive around F Pool. The trumpeter swans on E Pool still have their one growing cygnet. A lone eagle is playing sentinel to its nest on E Pool making sure another pair doesn’t try to take it over.
The little kingfishers are chattering and staying just ahead of us…as usual. The wood ducks are scattered along the pools. A great blue heron takes off just as we spot it in E marsh.
Three sandhill cranes fly over as we stop to photograph another great blue heron feeding on H Pool. As we head to J Pool we count at least forty sandhill cranes feeding along with several trumpeter swans and flocks of Canada geese. There are also quite a few little shorebirds scattered about….semipalmated plovers and sandpipers. A double crested cormorant flew over.
Interesting to watch the sandhills…they are not quite ready to be social. A pair gets too close to another pair and a little battle ensued. Usually when they gather at their fall staging areas they bow and dance showing they accept the newcomers.
As we were heading down the drive along J channel we finally spot a sharp-tailed grouse. It’s only the second one we have seen this year. The poor things hardly had a chance to court this year. We were hit with an abundance of snow and freezing temperatures during the time they are usually on their lek…performing their courtship dance.
We found a lot of little shorebirds out in J marsh…great yellowlegs, solitary sandpipers, semipalmated sandpipers just to name a few.
The trumpeter swans are still congregated on G Pool. We also spot a young pied billed grebe. It still has some of its baby down and the striping along its eyes. We are glad to see a few of them finally showing up on the Refuge.
The west end E Pool trumpeter swans still have their one very large cygnet with them. A few wood ducks and ring necks are scattered about.
The wood ducks seem to be everywhere. We spot them on every pool along the drive.
We spot two great blue herons chasing each other around C marsh. We notice a white-tailed doe running through the marsh…but we couldn’t tell if something was chasing her or not.
We spot several ring-necked ducks and a couple more pied billed grebes further down along C Pool. Then we notice several Canada ducks that have a number of wood ducks feeding around them. Usually we spot the wood ducks around the trumpeter swans. They like to glean what the swans ‘dig’ up.
We head over to the Wigwams around 11:30 to check on the show pools. It is now 70 degrees…perfect weather. We have a great blue heron, a great egret and a greater yellowleg hunting together in the North Show Pool. I am able to sneak out on a spit of land with grass clumps. I hunker down and start photographing the young great blue heron. It eventually came closer and closer to me…until…a motorhome with young kids arrived and spooked it. The great egret never got close enough for any decent shots…but still fun to watch. I could spend hours just sitting out with my wildlife…observing the interaction of the species.
We take a lunch break on the South Show Pool where we spot about ten wood ducks and a great blue heron. Yeah! The great egret flew into the pool as we were sitting there. We were able to sneak up on it with me on the back of the truck. We could get close enough to photograph it while it was hunting off a downed tree before it took off.
As we head back on the Refuge the wood ducks are still enjoying the eats on the pool in front of the Visitors’ Center. ABJ is still hanging out with his one young. Later we also spot his mate and older chick out farther. So amazingly the whole family is still together. Maybe the female has finally picked up some of ABJ’s paternal skills. The females are usually gone by the end of August…and the males shortly behind them. ABJ and his family are the only remaining loons on the Refuge which is so unusual, too. There are usually a few males still hanging out partying together…but not this year.
Sandhills fly into H Pool. There are still 30+ sandhills on J Pool. We find at least a dozen Wilson snipes in J marsh!! They are in the shadows so we weren’t able to get very good photos. But when we come back through later the sun was out and we were able to sneak up to get some decent shots of eight in one shot. There were also solitary sandpipers and great yellowlegs in the same area. We had a juvenile Northern harrier hunting and trying to snatch a shorebird…to no avail. It was so fun to watch. It is truly amazing what you can see if you just sit and observe.
We have great blue herons scattered around C Pool…pied billed grebes….lots of wood ducks…ring-necked ducks and the bald eagle perched over the old nest on B Pool.
It was a perfect wildlife filled day at Seney National Wildlife Refuge.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal August 25, 2014
We woke up to a thunderstorm so we decided not to got to our bear blind…which is metal…not a good place to be in a lightning storm.
So around 11:00am we headed to the Refuge. Wood ducks and a great blue heron greeted us. An American bittern was hunting in one of its usual spots. We finally had to move on…it just didn’t seem to care if we were there or not.
ABJ and his whole family were still together on F Pool. The ospreys were hunting…kingfishers squawking….ring-necked ducks sleeping.
H Pool had two little hooded mergansers out amongst the Canada geese trying to be inconspicuous. While I was watching them four sandhill cranes flew over…one was banded. A great blue heron flew out of F marsh.
We spotted our Northern harrier hunting in F marsh. I was able to get a quick shot as he flew by. We spotted a Wilson snipe in F marsh. We watched it feed for quite a while before it headed into the marsh.
A pair of sandhill cranes was feeding in H marsh…along with a kingfisher that sat on a snag for over fifteen minutes…until we got closer to it…then gone in a second. Little buggers.
We spot another American bittern in H marsh. He gave me the googly eyes then flew off. It’s nice to see them still hanging around.
We still have over twenty sandhill cranes scattered around J Pool. J marsh we spot yet another American bittern in the tall grasses.
C Pool still has the great blue herons and wood ducks hanging out along with several pied billed grebes. It’s nice to see these little divers back on the Refuge. Our two loons are farther down in the middle of C Pool. We spot a great blue heron, wood ducks and a lone loon on B Pool. At the end of C Pool we spot yet another great blue heron and a trumpeter swan chasing some wood ducks. The wood ducks like to feed around the swans…looks like someone got too close for comfort.
Our loon is still hanging out on the small pool along with a great blue heron. While we were watching a merlin flew over us. It was a nice way to end our weekend at Seney National Wildlife Refuge.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal August 24, 2014
We once again woke up to overcast and humid weather. The temperature reached 70 by 10:00 when we entered the Refuge.
We were happy to see more wood ducks feeding in the small pool in front of the Visitors’ Center. The males are still in eclipse molting into their fall breeding plumage. Five sandhill cranes flew over as they are starting to get social preparing for their fall migration. Wood ducks were feeding at the start of F Pool, too.
We found ABJ and his family including his mate all together farther out on F Pool. It is unusual for the female to still be with the family. Usually the females leave by now…maybe she heard us bad mouthing her about being a bad parent. LOL.
The two eagles on E Pool are together perched near their nest. It’s time for them to protect their territory again and restructure their nest for next spring. There are also several wood ducks bobbing back and forth on E Pool. Kingfishers are flying around…staying just in front of us as we head down the drive. The young ospreys are still hanging out around their nest but we think the adults have already headed for South America.
The H Pool trumpeter swans still have their one cygnet. There are several ring-necks and mallard families along with lots of Canada geese on H Pool.
J Pool has over twenty sandhill cranes feeding. They are still keeping separated into pairs but some are trying to be social. They will soon gather in a fall staging area waiting to catch the thermals that will carrying them across the Straits of Mackinac to their wintering grounds.
A merlin shot across J Pool screaming into H marsh. Sadly we haven’t seen many of them this year. Love these little raptors. The two nests we were watching were unsuccessful.
We also spotted a nice gathering of semipalmated plovers and semipalmated sandpipers feeding together on J Pool along with a multitude of Canada geese. We always like to just stop and observe. You never know what you might find poking around in the mudflats.
The kingfishers are active but staying one jump in front of us all along the west of the Fishing Loop along the channels. One of our pesky kingfishers is harassing a poor osprey. The trumpeter swans are still gathered in mass on G Pool. A little squabbling was going on with one chasing another out of its area. Some of them are trying to pair up preparing for the start of new families next spring.
We spot a great blue heron in the marshes of D Pool but as soon as we stopped it flew just ahead of us. It continued this scenario all around the loop to the end of D Pool where it finally flew into C marsh.
C Pool was a bevy of activity…wood ducks…pied billed grebes….ring-necked ducks…and lots of great blue herons. We haven’t seen that many great blues since we started coming to the Refuge 14 years ago. There was a GBH from one end of C Pool to the other…six in all.
We could here loons calling and flying at the east end of C Pool and B Pool. When we got down there two loons were there. One was being shy but the other one was busy bathing and preening. He let us photograph him for some time. He was banded T7. They love their baths…splish-splashing…somersaulting…flipping upside down…fun to watch.
Then we found one of our friends, A7, the loon that I got to spend time with on B Pool earlier this summer. He was hanging out on the small pool past C Pool. He came up close to the shore while I talked to him. He seemed to enjoy the company. He was still there when we finally had to move on due the traffic. We ended our first run at 1:45pm.
We headed out to the Show Pools to see what we could see. The sandhill crane family with two large colts was hanging out around the South Show Pool! We were able to get some nice family photos of them. A great blue heron flew into the North Show Pool. While we were there we meet up with our ‘Refuge’ friends who live in Manistique, Kenneth and Jean Rautioula…mom Dorothy and her son and his wife. It is always good to catch up them to share our stories and love of the Refuge and its wildlife.
Before we headed back into the Refuge the sandhill crane family was back out near the South Show Pool. We got a few more shots before they all flew off over the pool. It’s great to see the colts have their flight feathers...ready to take their first long migration flight. We had ospreys fishing over F Pool along with the pesky kingfishers. ABJ and his family were not happy about the fishermen hanging out around the channel they usually feed in this time of day. I was able find them near their old nesting area between the islands. ABJ spotted me and immediately went into the defensive mode. But realized I was no threat and immediately started looking for food for his youngest that was tagging along. The mate and oldest chick were out farther in F Pool.
A great blue heron was feeding in H marsh. I got on it just in time to get a couple of nice flight shots as it headed back past us. We also spotted a juvenile Northern harrier hunting in the distance.
We finally spotted an American bittern on the west end of E Pool. Last week we saw six in one day. You just never know when or where you might spot these elusive marsh hunters.
The great blue herons were still stretched out along the length of C Pool…along with many wood ducks. We spotted a pied billed grebe near the end of C Pool along with the two loons that were out farther in the water this time through. Our loon was still on the small pool where Dorothy and her son and his wifewere waiting for Kenneth and Jean, her daughter and husband. We waved and headed out of the Refuge at 4:30. We were treated to more shots of the sandhill cranes family out near the busy road.
Since the clouds were rolling in we decided to take a break and headed to Munising. On our way back at 7:00pm we finally found one of the great egrets in the North Show Pool. Unfortunately it got spooked and headed across the road to the east. Oh well, at least we got a few shots. We popped into the Visitors Center to check out the wood ducks. Quite of few of the eclipsing males were feeding…we also spotted a Virginia rail on one of the islands…but no photo. We headed out around 8:00pm.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal August 17, 2014
We woke up to overcast skies and cool temperatures. It started to as we entered the Refuge at 9:15. Loons are flying and calling their tremolo. The wood ducks are finally showing themselves in the small pool in the front of the Visitors Center. The males are still in eclipse molting back into their fall breeding plumage. They will migrate south to have another clutch of young in their wintering grounds.
We spot an eagle along the Marshland Drive in one of the tall pines…the other was near the nest. It’s time for them to protect their territory again. Since they didn’t have young…they’ve been very scarce. A pair of trumpeter swans has one surviving cygnet.
Sandhill cranes are enjoying their eats in F Pool along with more wood ducks. ABJ and his family were out a little closer to shore. One loon was acting strange…an intruder? It came right up to us by the E/F spillway then took off. It was ABJ…red over green banded. We weren’t really sure what was going on. He circled E Pool then landed back on F Pool near his family. While watching the loons we had common and Caspian terns, trumpeter swans and osprey flying over. It started to cloud back up as we watched kingfishers dashing from island to island.
We have spotted sandpipers and a pair of trumpeter swans with also only one cygnet on H Pool. Across the drive we spot four blue-winged teal young feeding and playing in F marsh. We spot an American bittern further down. It must be a young one…it doesn’t seem to mind us photographing it. While we were watching it a great egret flew over and landed into H Pool. So we went back to photograph it. While we were watching it some Canada geese flew over startling the egret…and startling another bittern that flew away from us to an island in the middle of H Pool. Sandhill cranes flew over. Further down we spotted another American bittern in H marsh.
J Pool is a bevy of activity….sandhill cranes, two great blue herons, plovers, sandpipers, lots of Canada geese, Northern harrier, gulls and terns. We weren’t able to actually get a glimpse of our young common tern…but we are hopefully that it survived.
We spotted yet another American bittern on J channel of course it flew before I could get a good shot of it. I keep trying to get another cool flight shot…but they are not cooperating. Two young great blue herons are playing tag with each other. One would land in a tree and the other would knock it off. It’s great to have the great blues back.
There are lots of trumpeter swans hanging out on G Pool. West end of E Pool trumpeter swans have one cygnet. The ospreys are busy rebuilding the old platform nest on D Pool. We’ll see how long before the G Pool eagles start stealing the sticks.
We spot another great blue heron in C marsh. Yeah, a young pied billed grebe is feeding on C Pool. As we are photograph it yet another American bittern flew up and headed over to an island. There are lots of ring-necked young. We have one loon on G Pool and another at the very end of C Pool along with yet another great blue heron. The sun is starting to come back out as we head out of the Refuge at 1:30.
I head back into the Refuge at 2:15. A young spike buck in velvet ran across the road in front of me. He stopped and looked back at me giving me a chance to photograph him. I stopped to spend time with ABJ and his family as they feed along the shores of F Pool. I was able to get up close and personal with them. It was fun to watch ABJ chilling out keeping track of his two young as they practiced their diving and feeding techniques.
I tried sneaking up on an American bittern but it spotted me and flew off…once again. Then I spotted another young bittern in F marsh and was able to spend quite a bit of time photographing it. Sandhill cranes were having a squabble on J Pool. I guess they aren’t ready to be social quite yet.
By 5:30 Michael and I make another run through with the Refuge. It’s warmed up into the 70’s throughout the day but the clouds are starting to move back in. The wood ducks were out enjoying the company of a female blue winged teal in the V.C. pool.
We stopped to watch ABJ and his young. They were trying to walk on water…bolting and diving. Great fun to watch these young loons work their way into adulthood.
We spotted an adult pied billed grebe on the east end of E Pool. They have been few and far between this year. Sad, we really love these little divers. We spot a large group of young ring-necked ducks on F Pool just taking a little snooze. Wood ducks are bobbing back and forth on E and F Pool. We stop to photograph a young great blue heron out in J marsh. The Northern flickers are flocking up at the west end of E marsh. A 5th year eagle is fishing from a dead tree along G Pool. We spot two loons on C Pool along with a great blue heron and a pair of trumpeter swans with one cygnet. We have only seen four pair with one cygnet each…despite the eagles not have young…the success rate wasn’t very good this year for swans.
We met Jean and Kenneth Rautiola…they told us that there were egrets and great blue herons on the North Show Pool. So we after we left the drive we headed to the Wigwams where two great egrets and three great blue herons were fishing in the waning light of day. Gorgeous!
Seney National Wildlife Refuge July 27, 2014
Well, we woke up to rain and cold, so we didn’t head in to the Refuge till around 9:30am. A great blue heron was fishing at the start of F Pool. As we neared the Fishing Loop we could see ABJ and his mate out with their two growing chicks on F Pool. As we were watching some small birds…two loons took off out of F Pool. One of them was ABJ because we could see his bands…red over green on his right leg. The second loon, the intruder landed on E Pool. Tis the season for the loons to start getting social. The female loons will gather soon heading south sometime in August. The males usually leave in September.
Finally!!! We spot a Northern harrier flying over E marsh!!! We have missed seeing these beautiful raptors. A female blue winged teal flies into F marsh. The great egret is fishing on the west end of H Pool where a couple of sandhill cranes feed nearby. The mallard hens have quite a few ducklings still surviving. We also spot a female hooded merganser.
Across from J Pool we spot a Virginia rail chick then its two parents in a little swell hole. It’s been so much fun this summer seeing these elusive birds.
We always hear the common terns before we see them around J Pool. Oh no, we think we have lost the common tern chick. We spot something white not moving off the edge of their nesting island. Another tern is about twenty feet from it. Two other terns come down to it with fish. When I could check my photos we realized that it was the baby alive and well…and that its parents were feeding it! This is so great to see it grown so much. It is the size of the adults already…just more white and gray on its head than black…and its beak is more yellow than orange. Since the common tern is a threatened species in Michigan it has been a real treat to be able to see this one survive from egg to adulthood.
We also spot three sandhill cranes on the backside of J Pool. It’s nice to finally see more of these beautiful gentle creatures. As we circle around to G Pool we spot two Caspian terns and a trumpeter swan family with one cygnet. A female kingfisher startles three little Eastern kingbirds that are chattering on a tree snag along G Pool. One lone loon is calling for its mate. The girls are starting to socialize preparing to head south in August especially since not many had chicks…no reason to hang around.
On D Pool we spot a loon close to the shore with its back to it. This is usually a sign that this loon is an intruder. It wasn’t long and the territorial male loon came over to investigate. The two circled each other…they pointed their bills….peered…dived…and circled again. Since the intruder was being non-aggressive the territorial loon let it be and swam out to the middle of the pool. The intruder just sat with its back to the shoreline and remained passive.
We found two loons on C Pool along with the trumpeter swans with one cygnet. It doesn’t appear to have been a good year for the cygnets…despite the lack of eaglets this year.
Since everything seemed to be hunkered down in the cold and wind…we decided to go back to the trailer for a couple of hours…hoping it will get nicer before dark.
We head back into the Refuge around 5:30pm…it’s still overcast. We are excited to spot a pair of sandhill cranes with two almost grown colts just outside the exit drive. The great blue heron is still in the same spot on F Pool….must be a good fishing hole.
We spot an American bittern in one of its usual hangouts…but it’s so gloomy it doesn’t make for good photos. We spot ABJ and his chicks feeding behind the long island on F Pool. I did get a shot of them despite being far away. This will be the last photo them till we come back in three weeks. By then they will have lost all of the down feathers and be sleek and smooth like their parents…except they will be grey.
We have an osprey feeding on a dead tree in F Pool. Then we spot two more ospreys flying over near the nest where yet another osprey is calling to be fed. It must be getting that time of year where the parents are trying to get the young to start feeding themselves.
There are quite a few muskrats out feeding…looks like some of them are young. There are also lots of mallard, ring-necked and blue winged teal young. We spot sandhill cranes flying over H Pool where there are at least three Greater Yellow legs feeding.
Wow…we just ran into a flock of red-winged blackbirds. It looks like the young are gathering with their parents…causing chaos all around. Two more sandhill cranes fly over H Pool. Good to see them.
The common terns are still tending their very large chick on J Pool.We also have several other common terns along with some Caspian terns and small sandpipers and plovers of some kind.
We spot another pair of sandhill cranes in J marsh…but no colts. As we head down the west end of the Refuge Michael spots an American bittern feeding along one of the channels. We stop so I can get a couple of shots. By now the sun has broken through and the lighting is perfect. The reflections are awesome. It must be a young one…it doesn’t even seem to mind that we are there. An hour later and I have gotten some great shots…but the bittern never caught a thing.
On G Pool the trumpeter swan family has their little cygnet near the shoreline. The setting sun made for some beautiful soft lighting.
As we wind the evening down we spot a sandhill crane in B marsh, wood ducks in C Pool, an osprey eating a fish, a female belted kingfisher landing on a bridge, a lone sandhill crane walking along the drive and another osprey fishing.
It was a lovely ending to gloomy start…as always a great day on the Refuge.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge July 26, 2014
We were so happy to find clear skies in the U.P. as we reached the Seney National Wildlife Refuge around 8:00pm! ABJ and his chicks were out away from the shore where an osprey was fishing on F Pool. We spotted several large shorebirds on an island on H Pool where three loons were flying quietly...and an American bittern flew out of the undergrowth. J Pool the common terns were screaming around....a flock of over twenty small sandpipers of some kind were flying around...and three sandhills were feeding. Two more sandhills were down in J marsh along with a Great Blue Heron. G Pool had trumpeter swans with one cygnet and only one of the loons. The three loons were still flying around this time over E Pool. An osprey was fishing on D Pool where two American bitterns flew over to C marsh. We finally spotted the Great Egret on a snag out in the middle of C Pool and a 2 1/2 year old eagle was perched in what we always called the feeding tree nearby. And as we left the Refuge with the sun setting the loons were still flying around. Can't wait till tomorrow...hope the weather holds for us.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal July 13, 2014
After a gloomy start to the day….the wind picked up and blew the clouds away as we started our run through the Refuge around 9:30am.
We were greeted by an American bittern feeding in a swell hole along the Marshland Drive. Common terns were fishing over F and E Pools. A blue-winged teal was out with her babies in F marsh.
We first heard then saw a Virginia rail along the edge of H Pool then it ran across the road to F marsh. No photos but fun to see them so active.
No sign of the loons of H Pool but we did see the trumpeter swans with one cygnet.
We stopped to watch our common tern family. The chicks have really grown! We could see two but not the third…but still glad to have two of them around.
The parents were diligently taking turns guarding/feeding them. They won’t let anything get anywhere near their ‘island’ or airspace. They chase off the Caspian terns, gulls…other common terns or anything else that moves.
It was so much fun to watch the little ones come out to be feed…sitting with their little beaks wide open. As the sun got hot though they spent more time under the stumps and on the other side of them away from us and the sun.
No sign of our G Pool loons…E Pool west end trumpeter swans have only one cygnet left, too. We do spot the D Pools out together…no chicks for them this year either. So only ABJ and mate on F Pool with two and we were told by the loon counters that C-2 pair has one chick.
We spot one of the eagles once again sitting near the old nest on B Pool that has been inactive for the 13 years we have been coming to the Refuge. But they have had two failed nests on E Pool…maybe they are thinking it’s time for a change. We have seen eagles in the past change nesting sites if they lost their young. Time will tell.
We end our first run through at 2:30pm…that’s a five hour time frame…that’s what it takes to really see the wildlife…time and patience.
By the time we started back through it was warmer but still very windy.We almost missed them…but Michael caught sight of ABJ and his chicks out by an island out of the wind. We decided if we were ever going to get any shots of the chicks we needed to just stop and observe them. Sooner or later they would have to work their way around the pool to feed.
Well, it took them over an hour…but they finally came closer to shore and worked their way around to the Fishing Loop and the E/C spillway.ABJ spent most of the time feeding his two young chicks. His mate eventually came over to help out. She is so not the motherly type. She would rather be on her own preening and posturing…whereas ABJ would rather be tending to his young. Interestingly we saw ABJ something that he did last year…go up on an island. Usually loons do not access land except to copulate and nest. We think he is either marking his territory or checking for a new nesting area. Time will hopefully tell.
Then we spent the rest of the day watching the common tern chicks and their parents…better than reality television any day. This time the common tern daddy was guarding them from a distance. As we were watching them…several Canada geese families invaded from the north. They swam…then walked through muck to get to the new shoots of grass that was growing all around the terns ‘island’. J Pool has been almost emptied to prepare for a bridge to be reconstructed this fall. So the geese were going to try to reap the benefits.
Well, by the time momma common tern got back one family of geese with their single gosling were pretty darn close to where the chicks were hiding. Bam…momma came in and gave daddy what for before taking off to dive bomb the geese. The poor geese were taken completely by surprise. The momma continued for over twenty minutes to alternately attack them or yell at their father. What a hoot to watch. The poor gosling was getting the worst end of the deal. The tern thought if it attacked their young the geese would take the hint and leave. Finally, after the tern bit the daddy goose on the neck…they decided to leave. Another family got to close just swimming by and they got a face full of mud trying to escape the wrath of momma tern.
I still chuckle thinking about her taking her anger out on her mate…I could just tell he was getting an ear full. While we were watching the action a facebook friend, Rebecca…well a few hours later the sun was setting and we were still talking. Sharing our love of wildlife and our Refuge is one of the rewards for what we do. While talking with her…we had osprey fly over, Wilson snipe, kingfishers, Caspian terns, fighting common terns and finally three common loons flew over. It was the perfect ending of yet another perfect day on the Refuge.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal June 30, 2014
The clearing skies with temperatures in the seventies make for another perfect day on the Refuge. We took the alternate route again this morning. They came behind us shortly afterwards and opened the Marshland Drive. But we got to see the back side of F Pool and the trumpeter swans with three cygnets…but no sign of the F Pool loons and chicks. The osprey was bringing in a fish for its young.
I Pool had one loon and the trumpeter swans with four cygnets…the young flicker from yesterday was hollering again for someone to feed it.
Our common terns were nestled down and not too active this morning. No sign of G or D Pool loons this morning. C Pool had several momma ring-necked ducks with six to nine chicks. We spot our lone loon at the end of C Pool where the trumpeter swans with five are out too far for pics.
I was excited to find my banded loon, V7, on B Pool. I spent some time with him as he fed along the shore. We were surprised to have a broad-winged hawk fly out in front of at the end of the drive…but not pics.
We made another run through to see if we could get some close up shots of ABJ and his loon chicks…no such luck. It will be two weeks before we get back up here…and they will be going through their ‘ugly’ stage by then.
We spot an American bittern in a little swell hole…but a motorcyclist came right up on us and scared it off. If they aren’t interested in the wildlife…why are they driving through here???? Common courtesy…they should have stayed back a little ways.
The E Pool eagle is standing guard over his nesting area…keeping others from taking over its territory.
H Pool loons were out enjoying the day…feeding together…along with the trumpeter swan family with four cygnets.
Our common terns on J Pool were still elusive with their chicks. We think they were hiding under the driftwood. The spotted sandpipers were flying around…along with an osprey and Caspian terns.
A cormorant was drying its wings on J channel.
We had a Wilson snipe fly in front of us and land along G Pool. I was able to sneak up and get some cool shots of it as it was getting a drink and warning off intruders to his territory.
Our most exciting discovery was finally spotting a pied billed grebe on C Pool. We watched it catch a crayfish. Instead of eating it…it headed back to an island with it. Sure enough it had five little chicks!!!! Yeah! Hope they stay safe and we are able to see them closer next time.
Our lone loon was still hanging out at the end of C Pool as the clouds started to move in and we had to head for home.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge June 29, 2014
We woke to misty and very humid weather. As we started our run through the Refuge we had to take an alternate route due to a prescribed burn along the Marshland Drive. So we were able to get a peek at I Pool which is located behind the Visitors Center. There was a pair of common loons hanging out…but no chicks. We did get to see ABJ and his mate with their two little chicks…but they were out to far for good photos…once again. The trumpeter swans on F Pool have four little cygnets.
We spotted a recently fledged Northern flicker sitting on a branch calling for someone to feed it. It wasn’t too happy about getting rained on either. We had pulled off to wait for the rain to subside so it was entertaining to watch. It finally attached itself to the side of the tree so that it didn’t get as wet. When we left it was still holding on tight…waiting.
On J Pool we stopped to spend some time with the common terns. We were so excited when we found they had not one…not two…but three little fluffy chicks! We were extremely entertained watching the little ones. The parents were kept busy trying to keep them safe. The daddy spent most of his time chasing off the intruding Caspian terns and gulls that seemed to take great pleasure in the chase.
As usually there were two huge snapping turtles wallowing around in the mud bogs on J Pool. I enjoy watching them as long as they don’t get any of the little chicks.
While we were on J Pool the winds finally blew out the clouds and the sun shone through. There was also a pair of sandhill cranes on J Pool…but no colts.
As we head around G Pool we spot our loon couple out enjoying the sunshine. We hear Wilson snipe calling…as they guard their territory. The kingfishers are busy feeding young along G Pool…somewhere.
The west end trumpeter swans on E Pool have five little cygnets. There were ring-necked ducks out with their many chicks and some wood ducks on C Pool. On the other end of C Pool we found our common loon couple hanging out in a cove…out of the wind. I sat and photographed them for almost an hour as they preened and posed for me. Love my loons.
‘Scarface’…our visiting loon was at the furthest end of C Pool trying to stay hidden from the territorial pair. Then on the small pool we found yet another single loon. This was had a white band on its right leg. We weren’t able to get close enough to see any numbers….maybe next time around.
We took a break down at the Wigwams where we found a pair of sandhill cranes with two colts. Unfortunately by the time we came back by they had disappeared in the tall grasses.
As we took another run through…the wind had really picked up and caused everything to hunker down. We had a blue-winged teal that kept flying in and out of the marsh as we were trying to spot rails or soras….to no avail.
There were lots of muskrats out enjoying the sweet grass. The C Pool osprey was sitting in a tree near the nest…but no shenanigans this weekend. The clouds were moving in so we finally called it a day around 9:00pm. Another great day on the Refuge.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal June 22, 2014
We woke to a partly cloudy morning…but by the time we got to the Refuge the clouds parted and the sun shone through. It was a lovely 63 degrees at 8:15am. The refuge was quiet with calm waters. The ring-necked ducks were out as usual…a few songbirds singing and tending their nest…and lots of trumpeter swans waking up along E Pool.
Of course, we’ve come to see ABJ and his mate’s loon chicks that were hatched just this past Monday night. And…of course…they are way back behind the nesting area with them. This is typical ABJ behavior…he likes to keep his young as safe and protected as long as possible. He knows when it’s safe to bring them up closer to the shore.
While we are watching the loons, the osprey brings in breakfast for its young on F Pool. We hear loons flying somewhere to the south of us.
We stop to check on H Pool loons. They are nowhere to be seen so I walk back to the nesting area. Sadly there are no eggs to be found. I’m sure they abandon the nest which must have failed. They don’t seem to be in a hurry to re-clutch…as I find them swimming together in the center of the pool.
Also while I was watching the loons, I heard a Wilson Snipe flying around overhead. I was able to get a decent shot of it before it landed in the marsh across the drive from H Pool. We also have the H Pool trumpeter swans chasing off an intruder while the F Pool osprey fishes to feed its growing family. What a great morning on the Refuge. Further down in the marshy area of H Pool we spot a male wood duck in eclipse(molting their breeding plumage) and a female hooded merganser…both took off before we could get any shots off.
We head down to J Pool to check on our nesting common terns. They are still there…no young yet…daddy still controlling the air traffic around the nesting area. If one of the Caspian terns even thinks of going near it…the little common tern takes off after it…screaming all the way. I love to watch the terns they are so dramatic with all of their calling and cavorting.
We also still have spotted sandpipers feeding along the receding shorelines of J Pool. A kingfisher goes whizzes by as big snapping turtles wait in the waters for unsuspecting victims.
There are also several cedar waxwings flitting about in the bushes along the shoreline of J Pool. I love to watch these masked birds as they flit about looking for food.
A wood duck takes off out of the channel along the back side of E marsh as an American bittern flies out of the other side of the road in G marsh. No photo ops unfortunately.
As we approach G Pool we spot the loon near the little islands where they had tried nesting earlier but failed. Maybe they are thinking of re-clutching…if they are they had better hurry. I think at this point if they aren’t on a nest…they will not be having chicks this year.
Well, the two loons work their way over to the shoreline to feed in the channel. We just pull of and watch them. I am able to get some nice shots of them feeding. I guess there is always some benefit to them not having a nest to tend. As we are watching the loons two sandhill cranes fly over the pool to land on the back half in the marsh. The F Pool trumpeter swans are on the back side of the pool keeping their little cygnets safe from predators.
Across the drive in E Pool we have Wilson snipes calling and carrying on. Hope to get a shot of one in this area at some point. We have shot several on the Refuge but none in this area. The dragonflies are thick through this area….thank goodness…making the mosquitoes less plentiful.
The rest of the drive is fairly uneventful...nothing much happening on D Pool….so hopefully the loons are on a nest…time will tell. The wood ducks are making more of an appearance now that breeding season is over…but the males are in eclipse and not quite as striking as when they are in their full breeding plumage. We spot a pair of sandhills out in B marsh…not sure if they have young or not. We spot a lone loon at the end of C Pool. No signs of our kingfishers at the nesting site. We take a lunch break at noon at out the Wigwams where an osprey is fishing. This pair has chosen to nesting across M-77 from the show pools. Actually the other osprey came over to see what was taking the one so long to bring home lunch. And the north show pool trumpeter swans were on the backside of the pool with their five little cygnets. I was able to walk along the trail and get some nice shot of them feeding.
The weather couldn’t be more perfect…sun…a breeze and mild temperatures. The shrub roses are in full bloom emitting an amazing fragrance and harboring bumble bees that are enjoying their nectar. The dragonflies are in full force out enjoying the abundance of mosquitoes…making it more enjoyable for us.
As we head back through the Refuge, we unfortunately do not see ABJ and his chicks any closer than before. So we move on down to H Pool. The loons are out closer to the drive and shore feeding so we stop to spend some time with them. The Wilson snipe is still flying and carrying on over F marsh…I’m thinking he is protecting his territory from would be intruders.
As we move down the drive a little farther we spot the noisy little bugger sitting in a dead tree. We are both able to get some good footage of him as he sat and squawked his little head off. We spent at least a half an hour photographing him before he decided he need to take a spin around his territory again. What fun to get so close to these little elusive birds.
We have cedar waxwings, yellow warblers, grackles and red-winged blackbirds throughout the marsh calling and vying for territory and food sources.
We stop to take a break at J Pool. It is just fun to sit and watch the antics of the Common and Caspian terns. The commons are still nesting and very defensive about what happens here. The Caspian terns seem to take much pleasure in harassing the littler terns.
The little common tern actually chased off a herring gull that was too close to the nesting area, too. Don’t mess with this new daddy. If he is as protective of the actually chicks…they may have a chance to survive. We are hoping to find chicks next weekend.
We watch a huge snapping turtle as it makes its way from the east of the pool as it follows the shoreline to the south. Unfortunately it disappeared before it got close enough for us to shoot it. I was worried that it would try to get the common terns’ eggs…or the goslings that were hanging out with the Canada geese parents not too far away.
As we head down the west end of the Refuge we hear merlins screaming…hopefully that means we have young. A sharp-tailed grouse flew up and across the road…but we didn’t see any young.
As we were coming around the south side of C Pool we spottd a lone loon near the shore. We stopped to shoot some photos from the truck…not wanting to disturb it. Well, of course, another car came up behind us so we had to pull up farther to get off the road. I decided to walk back to where the loon was to see if I could get any shots of it preening. It was very cooperative; I talked to it soothingly as I was photographing it. It actually came closer to shore as I talked to it. So I decided to see how close to the shoreline I could get to it. I was sitting in the muck shooting and talking to it as it looked at me with knowing eyes….kindred spirits connecting for even just a brief moment. This is why I love doing what I do…it’s these moments that make all the bugs and muck and heat so worth it.
I decided I had better let it get on with its feeding but when I left it hooted at me as if to say ‘please don’t go’. It was awesome. Michael was even amazed at it…he thinks I get a little loonie about talking to the animals.
We were distracted by an osprey screaming its head off over C Pool. It had caught a fish and was carrying it higher and higher into the sky…not usual behavior. There was one in the nest just across the way from us. We think that the fish may have actually latched on to the osprey and wouldn’t let go. Finally a third osprey flew over and seemed to ‘help’ the screaming one. It then took the fish over to the one in the nest. Then the third one flew over screaming at the other two. It was very interesting behavior. We weren’t exactly sure just what was taking place…a love triangle? Actually while the osprey was screaming overhead I went back over to the loon. He was acting a little distraught so I talked soothingly to him and he seemed to become calmer.
And while I was talking to my loon buddy, Michael was watching several American bittern flying in and out of B marsh. They actually sound like a barking dog when they are flying…very cool to see them. We figured they must have young and are busy trying to feed them. We have seen several throughout the Refuge…but always flying…and no photo op.
Well, after the osprey incidence the sun peeked out so I decided to go talk to my loon. It had been out feeding and now was back waiting for me…lol…I think he was just hiding from the territorial C Pool loons. I got some amazing shots of this beautiful creature and will cherish the moments I spent with him.
We found the two territorial C Pool loons out together at the end of the pool. Sadly, it looks like they will not be successful this year either.Two big beavers were feeding at the end of the marsh on the tender lily tubers. Then as we were leaving the drive I spotted a ruffed grouse dodging into the woods.
Well, it was looking a little cloudy in the early evening but as we decided to take one last run through in the hopes of finding the F Pool loons closer…the sun peeked back out.
I am so glad we decided to head back through. ABJ and his mate were out just behind the nesting area feeding their two little ones. Unfortunately they weren’t on their parents’ backs but…at least we got to seem them. It made it all worthwhile. We spent a little more time with the terns and spotted sandpipers on J Pool before we called it a night.
It was an amazingly wonderful day…weather and wildlife…at Seney National Wildlife Refuge!
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal June 10, 2014
It’s another gorgeous morning with the sun shining and the temperatures already in the 60’s. We are greeted by the Canada geese with goslings as we start our drive. The red-winged blackbirds are singing and chattering along the pools. The males are warning intruders to stay out of their territories while the females gather food for their young. We actually watched as one male attacked the poor geese that were just trying to feed their tiny little goslings.
We spot a male wood duck in the marshes on E Pool as we travel down to check on F Pool loons and their nest. Unfortunately the chicks have not hatched yet. I was hoping they would before we had to head home today…but they will definitely hatch with the next couple of days. Sadly we won’t be back till after next weekend. It’s Fathers’ Day…and more important to spend it with my awesome dad. There will be other baby loons…but only one amazing dad.
We decide to just hang out at the nest area just in case. While we are observing the loon nest we also have lots of other activity going on all around us. A female Eastern kingbird was feeding on a snag…suddenly popped on to a nest. Cool! Then we had a pair of Cedar Waxwings flitting back and forth in front of us. They were gathering fibers from the shoreline and flying back into a nearby jack pine…building a nest! Then were heard the scream of a merlin behind in E marsh…and discovered a nest in another jack pine! Awesome! Of course, we have the F Pool ospreys’ nest right out behind the loons’ nest…so there was plenty to keep us busy. The occasional tern would fly by…trumpeter swans flew over and even a pair of yellow throated warblers stopped by.
I can’t state enough times…just stop…sit and observe and you will be astounded by what will be revealed to you.
While we are watching all of this, we hear the sound of big trucks. We see two gravel trucks on the J/I drive…then we see a big semi with a huge crane getting ready to turn on the Fishing Loop. Oh no…are they going to start work on the bridge reconstruction now? We were hoping that wouldn’t happen till the loons had hatched their young…and the common terns on J Poo.
Well as it gets closer we figured they would tell us we had to move on…but they drove right past us!! Yeah!! The actually stopped at J Pool and unloaded the crane there. Well, we decided to move on…so we started down the drive. But we noted that the semi was turning around and heading back our way! So we backed up and stopped at H Pool to wait for them. While we were waiting…we spotted the H Pool loons. Finally they were closer to the shore…so I decided to investigate. Well, lo and behold they worked their way back toward the spillway to an island…where they had a nest!! I guess some things truly do happen for a reason. If that truck hadn’t forced us to stop here…we might have missed out on this discovery.
I actually found the perfect spot for Michael to be able to film the nest…then I move on to see if I could get a closer shot from a different vantage point. I watched as one of the loons went over to the nest…but didn’t get up on it. Then later it went back…started to get up on it…then turned around. Finally after almost an hour of sitting in the hot sun with the ticks and bugs buzzing around me…one loon ascended the nest. It turned the eggs…I think there are two…and then starting to come back off the nest again…but it stopped and actually throw muck back on the nest to build it up and protect it. How cool is that.
As I headed back to the truck, happy in my discovery and amazed how it all came about, I enjoyed the fragrance of the newly blossomed shrub roses and honeysuckle…the buzzing of the bees and dragonflies…and even discovered a few monarchs flitting about. What a great way to spend a day…doing what I love in a place I love. Life is Good!
We continue our journey through the Refuge. J Pool common terns are still diligently protecting their nest. The Caspian terns are still harassing them.
G Pool loons are still swimming freely…one in the middle of the pool…the other one at the south end of the pool. Hopefully, they are just enjoying this beautiful weather…knowing that their eggs are being kept warm by the sun. Once again time will tell.
D Pool loons are still remaining elusive but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there and on a nest. We have a sandhill crane in the marsh at the north end of the pool and an eagle fishing from a pine tree in the middle of the pool.
As we head down the drive on the south side of C Pool, we once again see a female merlin in the drive. She flies up and out of sight before we can spot where she went. I’m sure she has a nest nearby.
We spot an eagle perched over the old nest on B Pool. They seem to like hanging out over here rather than on their own E Pool area. Further down we have an osprey fishing over the end of C Pool and finally we spot a loon in the small pool at the end of C Pool.
We hate to leave the Refuge…it’s been a great three days…and never long enough. We won’t be back till the evening of the 21st. Hopefully, we have lots of new babies to photograph when we get back.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal June 9, 2014
It’s another nice morning with mostly sunny skies as we head into the Refuge. We have two hooded female mergansers along the Entrance Rd. F Pool loons are still sitting on their nest. The ospreys are also still on their nest. We spot a Wilson snipe flying over the marsh looking for a mate. We also finally spot a male wood duck in full breeding plumage. The male red-winged blackbirds are protecting their harems as the females scurry back and forth gather food for the young.
It is fairly quiet today. The terns are not being very active on J Pool. The most activity is the trumpeter swans trying to keep intruders out of their territories. Our G Pool loons are still swimming around together. We can’t tell if the eagles have eaglets or not on G Pool. It’s awful quiet but that doesn’t mean a thing.
We have some pine siskins and cedar waxwings flitting about. The Eastern kingbirds don’t seem quite as active today. We spot yellow warblers, Northern flickers and of course the corvids(ravens and crows) are always stirring up trouble. The trumpeter swans are patiently waiting to hatch their young…sharing the nest time.
We hear the glunk…glunk of an American bittern along C Pool. It flies out of the shoreline and into the marsh but no photo ops. One of the ospreys on B marsh is on the nest, the other one in a tree nearby. We aren’t sure if they will just play house or try to nest this year. This is their third year at trying.
The C Pool loons are still hanging out together. But as warm and mild as it has been they could just be trying to keep the bugs at bay while their eggs are safe and secure. We were so excited…we finally spied a pied billed grebe in C Pool but it quickly moved into the reeds. Hopefully they have a nest hiding in there. Time will tell.
Four male ring-necked ducks are hanging out together on C Pool while at the end of the pool we spot a lone common female merganser.
The fun begins when we stop to watch the belted kingfishers’ nesting hole. The pair will dig using their bills and feet a hole approximately six feet long. We have a female come in with something for her young. She remains elusive while we are nearby flitting back and forth and all around. Eventually after realizing we mean her and her young no harm darts into the nest. We were able to capture the moment as she flew in and then when she popped back out.
While we were watching her we also had a young doe checking us out. She wandered over to the marsh and was going to go up on to an island. We suddenly heard crashing and splashing of water as she was literally chased out by a large doe that was on the island. Poor thing was so upset she took off down the driveway. We are hoping that the large doe may have a fawn hidden on the island or plans on having her young there. The larger doe eventually wander over our way snorting and carrying on…warning us and making sure we were no threat.
We completed our first run at 2:00 pm to clouds filling in the sky. We decided to take a little break.
We headed back on the Refuge around 5:00. We were greeting with the calls of the Wilson snipes. Everything is nesting and quiet…till the young hatch…then it’s time to work for the parents. The Canada geese are the main critters that have their young right now. We spotted a pair that had six very tiny goslings sitting along the drive.
At J Pool we had a little controversy with the nesting common terns and the ‘good ole boys’…the Caspian terns. I swear they just love to antagonize the poor commons…bullies. We also still have a couple of spotted sandpipers picking and poking along the shores. A male blue-winged teal is out farther in the Pool.
We hear the glunk, glunk of the American bitterns throughout the Refuge tonight. I love to hear that sound….can’t wait to see more of them .
We spot a red squirrel hanging upside down enjoying the seedlings on a small tree. Further down we found a male wood duck bobbing back and forth along with several male ring-necked ducks.
A pair of sand hill cranes is in C marsh feeding. We couldn’t tell if they had any young with the grasses being so tall. Then we spot a female merlin! She was actually in the drive but flew up screaming in a pine tree. She swooped around us and went back to the same area….possible nest?
Then as we were watching an osprey fishing on C Pool…diving into the water at full force…all heck broke loose. A bald eagle came swooping out of a tall pine tree…being chased by a screaming merlin. The eagle took off toward the osprey hoping it had a fish to steal. The osprey turned back and started chasing the eagle! We were privileged to see some great aerial acrobatics…especially by the eagle. The osprey was very persistent…determined to get the upper hand with the eagle. Finally the eagle headed over to B Pool where it settled on a dead tree…and the osprey continued fishing on the opposite end of C Pool…away from the eagle.
We have learned through the years if we just stop…sit…and observe…we are always astounded at what events we are privileged to witness from our amazing wildlife.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal June 8, 2014
We started our 40th anniversary day along the tracks of the Toonerville Trolley photographing our black bears then on to Seney National Wildlife Refuge. We started out with overcast skies but the sun soon broke through to make for a gorgeous day.
We found a few Canada geese out with their growing goslings. When we got to F Pool we found the loons off their nest. But before we left one them crawled laboriously back on the nest to settle in to finish incubating. We are hoping to see chicks before we head home on Tuesday. If not, they will definitely be here by Wednesday or Thursday. ABJ, the oldest banded loon is always the first loon to nest and hatch out his young. And he is also the most successful parent with surviving young.
We did find a male blue-winged teal trying to hide in F marsh. He is more than likely guarding his mate while she is nesting nearby.
At J Pool we found the common terns still on their nest, a spotted sandpiper, some Caspian terns, trumpeter swans, Canada geese and some sandhill cranes…but not as many shorebirds as last weekend.
We find the G Pool loons in the middle of the pool. But while we stop to just enjoy the day…they come up close to the shore to allow me to photograph them before continue on their possible hunt for a different nesting site. They had been seen nesting on a little island…but not lately.
We spot a lone sandhill in the marsh at the north end of D Pool…but no sign of the loons. The ospreys on B marsh have been working on their new nest. We hear Wilson Snipes in different marshes along the way. Then we have a lovely dovey pair of ring-billed ducks hanging close together in the marsh at the end of the drive.
C Pool loons were also just swimming around together. Not sure if they have had failed nests…or just on a break. Time will tell.
It was a wonderful way to spend our anniversary. Better yet…we get to spend all of tomorrow here, too.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge June 1, 2014
After spending the morning preparing our blind along the tracks of the Toonerville Trolley to photograph black bears, we finally headed into the Refuge around 1:00pm. The skies were getting dark as the south winds blew.
The Canada geese have their goslings…but the trumpeter swans are still on their nest. F Pool loons are still nesting…hoping to see chicks in less than two weeks! We were also amazed at the large flocks of Canada geese still migrating north that we saw today.
We finally found the H Pool loons out and about on our second run through….but they didn’t seem to be nesting. Hopefully they were just taking a break from the bugs before going back to tend the nest. Time will tell.
J Pool is very active with shorebirds and terns. We decided to sit and watch the action. You never know what might fly by. We had Caspian, common and black terns…black bellied and semipalmated plovers…spotted sandpipers and who knows what else that was too far out to id.
The Canada geese were fun to watch as they were feeding in the muck. They would get out too far and get stuck then panic…but finally pull themselves out squawking all the way. We also had male blue-winged teal and lots of male mallards feeding further out
Then we discovered it…a pair of common terns nesting on an island out in plain sight! We sat there and watched them for almost an hour. The one would fish and bring in a treat to its mate…then off again. The other common and Caspian terns would give them grief by flying by too close to the nest. Then the one that wasn’t sitting on the nest would chase the other terns off. The nesting pair would both take a break together on a nearby downed log.
We finally continue on our trek. We find the G Pool loons out in the middle of the pool. All of a sudden the one goes into the yodel and we look up to find two loons flying over. The flying loons were non breeding young…still in their gray mottled feathers. Then as if on cue the one loon heads right in toward us. I love my loons…and apparently they know it.
The G Pool eagle was out later fishing but we didn’t see it actually catch anything. We aren’t sure if they have eaglets or not…they should have by now.
We didn’t see D Pool loons till our second run through. Hopefully they, too, were just taking a break from tending the nest. We haven’t seen our D Pool ospreys either. Who knows…maybe they didn’t make it back from South America this spring. The severe weather can take out a lot of migrating birds in the spring and fall. Hopefully they just changed nesting areas. They old nest was getting too big for the dead tree it was placed in…we can hope.
There were lots of pairs of ring-necked ducks still not nesting. The males were trying to be patient while the females didn’t seem ready to get tied down to the nesting process.
The osprey pair that hasn’t actually had a successful nest for the last two years is trying to build yet another weak nest in B marsh. We call them dumb and dumber…not very intelligent about how to build their nest. We’ll see what happens this year.
The little eastern kingbirds are busy throughout the Refuge. I love to watch them catch bugs midair. There are yellow rumped and yellow warblers…pine siskins…northern flickers…and much more enjoying the bug season on the Refuge.
We finally see C Pool loons out together near the end of the pool but out quite a ways…near an island. Hopefully that means they are on a nest but just taking a break, too.
We haven’t seen E Pool eagles near their nest…failed??? We have seen them around the old nest on B Pool but not on the nest. Time will tell what’s going on there.
Well, we had a great six hours on the Refuge. We had heat…cold…rain…sun…but most of all fun! It’s always great to spend time here in this amazing place.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge May 19, 2014
We woke up to yet another gorgeous day in the Upper Peninsula. It is quite rare to have two sunny days back to back in mid-May…especially after the bad weather we just had three days ago. I guess the gods were smiling down on us. The temperature actually got close to seventy degrees!
It was a little quieter on the Refuge this morning. I guess a lot of our little songbirds hitched a ride on the thermals from the front that went through yesterday.
F Pool loon was off the nest but nearby probably the bugs drove it off. With the weather being so nice there’s not as much chance of the eggs getting damaged.
J Pool still had lots of Caspian terns and shorebirds…although they were out farther. Patience paid off though and several of the long billed dowitchers came in closer. A Caspian tern flew right at and over me. Sweet. A lone sandhill crane flew over. A male merlin came screaming over and landed in a tree along the drive. Then we spotted our first Northern harrier for the season on the Refuge. It was the gray ghost…a male…soaring high over J Pool. Awesome!
Further down at the end of the J marshes we spot an American widgeon hanging out with a pair of common mergansers and trumpeter swans.
We hung out at G Pool watching the eagle fishing…flying over us. We could see the other eagle was in the nest. An osprey flew over…the two loons were further down the pool along with several Canada geese and trumpeter swans.
We watched some yellow rumped warblers enjoying the bugs at the west end of E Pool. We also spotted a pair of blue-winged teals feeding together. I was able to sneak down in the brush to ‘shoot’ them. It’s amazing how dry it actually is…despite all the snow and rain we have had this spring.
Wilson snipes are calling looking for a mate. The red-winged black birds are everywhere. I love these guys.
The D Pool loons are separated…looks like maybe its nesting time for them, too…hopefully. C Pool had an intruding loon. The couple was not happy about it. He was on high alert…just encase they decided to attack. We also spotted two eagles hanging out at the old nest site on B Pool. I guess they like to play house there. I think it keeps interlopers away from the site which is quite close to their nest on E Pool.
We ended our run through at 1:00pm to sunshine. We went back to the trailer for lunch. Then Michael had some chores to finalize on the trailer for the summer…so I got to go back into the Refuge for a little me time.
ABJ or his mate was on the nest on F Pool. The Caspian terns were raising a ruckus on the back side of J Pool. I spotted two male American widgeons at the end of J marsh. It was all and all a very quiet day…not much traffic either.
I did get to spend some quality time with a lone loon on B Pool. He allowed me to settle in the brush near the shoreline. He must have been comfortable enough with my presence because he even snoozed for a while. It was better than any anti stress medicine I could have taken. Just spending about a half an hour up close and personal with nature will help cure what ails you….I know it does for me anyways.
I left the Refuge around 4:00 with the temp near seventy and the cloud cover moving in….perfect timing…perfect weekend.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal May 18, 2014
Wow…what a gorgeous day for our first day on the Refuge!! The sun is shining and it is in the mid- forties. It warmed up nicely into the sixties by the afternoon. As we turned on the Entrance Rd. into the Refuge, we were greeted by the song of the white throated sparrow. I love to hear their sweet song. It definitely heralds spring.
We immediately had to stop to ‘shoot’ two ruffed grouse that were in the top of a tree overhanging the road…eating fresh tasty buds.
The red-winged blackbirds were singing and carrying on as we start the Marshland Drive for the first time this season.
Trumpeter swans are flying; kingfishers are squawking and Canada geese standing around in the drive wondering what’s up with all this traffic.
We have a flighty Greater yellow leg on E Pool via the Fishing Loop. The bridge repair on the Fishing Loop has been delayed which makes us happy. We hope to see if ABJ is back on F Pool.
We didn’t get too far when we spot not one but two common loons on F Pool. I was able to get enough shots of them to see that one was definitely ABJ…the oldest known banded loon. He was hatched and the first loon to be banded on the Refuge in 1987. He is now 27 years old.
We spot a Wilson Snipe in the marshes along at the west end of F Pool…we actually hear it before we see it.
About sixteen Caspian terns are squawking and carrying on in the middle of J Pool which has been left at the low level that is it was last fall. The shorebirds and waders love the lower levels for feeding. Further down at the end of J Pool we spot three blue-winged teals and more common mergansers along with a couple of pair of trumpeter swans.
On G Pool we spot two bald eagles soaring around then one landed in a pine tree on the back side of the pool to fish. Then as we rounded the curve there was the pair of common loons. Great to be back and to see the loons back where they belong.
We have Northern flickers…kingfishers…and lots of little birdies flying around. A pair of sandhill cranes flies over us at the west end of E Pool where we hear another Wilson Snipe.
The D Pool loons are back and enjoying spending time together before settling down to nest. They are busy diving and feeding along the drive.
We spot two eagles soaring over E Pool who are said to be nesting. I think everything is out enjoying this beautiful day. It’s been a very long hard winter for all creatures great and small…including humans.
We have two loons toward the end of C Pool who are also just enjoying each other company and hanging out along the drive. We hear then spot a merlin further down at the C/B spillway. As we round the end of C Pool we spot an American bittern in the marsh…awesome…nice to see them back already.
We take a lunch break at the wigwams before heading back for a second run through. We spot a pair of loons on the South Show Pool.
As we turn on the Fishing Loop we spot palm warblers, yellow rumped warblers, yellow warblers, chipping sparrow and white throated sparrows. The loons are still in the same area of F Pool…hopefully hunting a nesting site.
We find long billed dowitchers and lesser yellow legs feeding happily on J Pool. The Caspian terns are still hanging around, too.An osprey was trying to fish…hovering but didn’t find anything worth diving for. A pair of common mergansers flew over while we were watching the shorebirds.
In the afternoon we find that the F Pool loons are actually nesting in the same spot they were last year…so chicks by mid-June!
The clouds moved in by 2:00 but cleared off a little again after 5:00. We just happy it stayed so nice and didn’t rain. Hope tomorrow is half as nice as today was.
All Photographs Copyrighted by Michael & Teresa McGill/McGills Nature in Motion-Unauthorized use prohibited