Monday, October 2, 2017

Greyling Michigan to Lake Superior Provincial Park (part 2 of 2)

Greyling Michigan - Home of the Kirtland's Warbler

Back in July - I had a posting about Misery Bay Provincial Park (on Manitoulin Island) and really, that posting was only part 1 of a 2 part series. That trip involved a complete circuit around Lake Huron, with the first part of the trip going all the way up through Michigan. So without further adue, I finally have gotten around to hitting the publish button on the other part of that trip.

Greyling MI - We did a 2.5 hour canoe paddle on the AuSable River. It is an amazing ride because the river is very clear, shallow, and has a nice flow. One hardly needs to paddle. Huge White Pines line this river, and occasionally you can hear Pine Warblers singing.

In Grayling, there is a road / intersection called *M72 & S Staley Lake Rd. This road is gravel and winds through some open scrubby habitat as well as large tracts of Jack Pine habitat. Some birds seen include: Kirtlands Warbler, Upland Sandpiper, Brown Thrasher & Eastern Kingbird. It almost had that "Carden Alvar" feel as I drove along this road.

Also in Grayling, we visited Hartwick Pines State Park that features 300 Year old white pine trees that can reach up to 150 ft high. This park was saved from being logged back when everything was being logged. At the visitor center, I was shocked to see Evening Grosebeaks at the feeders! Rose breasted Grosebeak and some brief looks at warblers singing in the treetops.

Since we stayed in Grayling, we went out to Traverse city for a day and drove through Hanson State Forest. It is thousands of acres but the military has a land use lease. Still, as I drove by one open area, I noticed a Red headed woodpecker and an Eastern Bluebird on the same tree. Amazing.

Traverse City MI - Of course, on of our favorite locations in Michigan is Sleeping Bear Dunes. We also went to Platt Point - which boasts breeding Piping Plovers. But... I did not see any. We also drove out to Old Mission lighthouse - the drive is wonderful with Cherry orchards and roadside stands as well as Vineyards. We also stopped by Lake Skegemog Bog Boardwalk - which features a few miles of undisturbed natural, swampy shoreline. The signage hinted that Massasauga Rattlers and Spotted Turtles were present, but sadly, I did not see either of those rare species.

Traverse City Michigan

Mackinaw City Michigan - We stopped for a day in Mackinaw City Michigan and it was pretty nice. It was the 4th of July - and there where generous fireworks at our beachside hotel. One nature highlight was visiting the "Old Mill Creek State Park" which was surprisingly good. They had a working wood mill that was powered by falling water diverted from a dam. They generously showed how the whole system worked and they milled a board out of a red pine as part of their demo.  Birds seen here included: American Redstart, Black & white warbler, Northern Parula, Hermit Thrush, Winter Wren and Yellow bellied Sapsucker.

Upper Penninsula Michigan - In the upper penninsula of Michigan, I was shocked to drive by a field of Bison! We stopped at a place called Potholes WMA (UP MI) - Two birds that were seen earlier in the summer were Nelson's Sparrow and Sharp tailed grouse --- but I dipped on both when I was there for a brief visit. I did see Upland Sandpiper, Dickcissel and Bobolinks.

Sault St Marie ON - We stayed in Sault St Marie for a day and we were able to visit the

Agawa Canyon Train Tour. The highlight here was waterfalls, wild lupine, Canadian Tiger Swallowtail, & white admirals. The four-hour train-ride (each way) was a little bit long in my opinion, but the views along the way made it a little more bearable.

Lake Superior Provincial Park was our next stop. At Batchawana Bay we say Pileated Woodpecker, Bald Eagle while driving. We stopped at Agawa Pictograph Rock - where we saw Common Loon, and a Spring Peeper frog! Spring Peeper was in a part of the cliff-side rock that was eroded away that made a narrow corridor. This tiny frog had nowhere to go. I did not realize it was a Spring Peeper until later when I was able to ID it by the large X across its back. Its a lifer amphibian!

Lifer Frog! Photo taken with cell phone! 

Common Loon! Agawa Rock Pictographs

So, in conclusion, my summer trip which essentially circled Lake Huron made for some great nature viewing. The great lakes offer much to see for the nature enthusiast. As mentioned before, I had a second part of this posting which featured highlights from Manitoulin Island and Toberermory.  Whenever I hear of people heading to tropical locals during the summer - I can't help thinking that North is the way to go in the summer - but hey... To each their own!

Good Birding!


  1. North is certainly the place to go! I hope to travel up there again next summer!

  2. It is a good thing not everyone travels north in the summer or it would be even more crowded! Hartwick Pines area is fabulous to see those awesome White Pines.



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