It was a cloudy morning so I didn't get on the Refuge till 8:30am. It was cloudy windy but in the 50's. An American bittern flew in front of me as I started around F Pool.
The pool were very quiet...once again just a few Blue-winged teals...ring-necked ducks...common and Caspian terns.
F Pool loon near the nest....J Pool loons out together. The Canada geese pair lost all of their goslings at the end of J channel. It looks like the trumpeter swans figured it out and decided not to nest their again. I did find a pair of common mergansers there, too.
I watched one of G Pool eagles take food up to the nest. I waited but it seemed to be really ripping up the food. a Caspian tern was intently fishing along G Pool, too.
The G Pool loons were out meandering from island to island looking for the perfecting nesting site. They came up closer to me. I watched her choose a spot and start pulling up nesting material!! She then went on the back side of the island and went up on land....waiting for him. I guess he didn't like the location so off they went. It isn't the first time I've watched them building a nest only to abandon it. Bummer.
I did have Wilson snipes flying over winnowing...as another answered from the marsh along G Pool. I love to hear nature especially during courting season.
D Pool loon was being elusive. C Pool loons were near the old site again.
We came back in the after with our friends, Ken and Jean, as a storm started to move in.
We enjoyed watching a pair of loons on H Pool...which we thought were the J Pool loons. They like to hangout on both pools. Looks like maybe one of the E Pool loon pairs have moved over because of the lowering of E Pool for band restoration. Time will tell. We just have to see if we can see bands.
The J Pool loons were enjoying island hopping again. We had hoped to witness something exciting but they weren't in the mood. G Pool and C Pool loons still searching too.
Can't wait to get back Saturday night to see if any new loon nests or other visitors.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge May 14, 2017
Another cold and windy day in da U.P. but at least the sun is out!! I took a hike around F to E to H to J and back by I Pools. Last main hike before the Refuge opens for the season tomorrow.
The Canada geese are out with their goslings...alls sizes. A few warblers singing in the conifers. E Pool is now very quiet. I found a pair of sandhills feeding near the F/E spillway...a few blue-winged teals...trumpeter swans but otherwise the migrants have moved on. There were still a few Caspian tern and a few common terns now, too.
Trumpeter swans are flying around trying to disturb the nesting couples. A lone sandhill crane is trying to find a safe place to feed without nesting sandhills driving them off.
ABJ and his mate were near the nesting area.
I got to spend some time with J Pool loons. They were at the far end of the pool. But I sat and waited...they came and swam right by me. They were courting...peering and pointing. They eventually went over to a sandbar where the female got up on the land. She was patiently waiting for him to decide that is was safe to mate. Unfortunately the nesting trumpeter swan male decided he didn't want them that close to his nest. So he honked and swam right up by the sandbar...interrupting the mood. So off the sandbar she went as he swam away.
The common terns were starting to gather in the area...courting and carrying on.
I heard a sora in F Marsh...and Wilson snipe. I spooked an American bittern, too. A few more warblers around I Pool. Trumpeter swans...geese and noisy kingfishers. The nesting merlins were being quiet.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge May 9, 2017
After a cloudy morning I got the Refuge around 8:30am. It was 40's and NO wind!! The water was like glass!! I found several male wood ducks at the start of F Pool.
The Wildlife Drive is closed to entry due to heavy equipment working on E Pool bank restoration. But the Nature trail was open...so I head back along I Pool to J Pool.
I found yellow-rumped and palm warblers. Two young female hooded mergansers flew into I Pool. A lone white-tailed doe was feeding in F marsh.
I could hear the merllins before I saw them. I was able to sneak up on a female bufflehead at the end of J Pool near the merlins nest. While I was photographing it...the female merlin flew in with a chipping sparrow in her talon!!
I then headed down to J Pool to check on the loons. The trumpeter swan was on her nest on the island. I scanned...nothing...then way across the pool...I spotted them. Both of them were out and about. I decided to calmly...patiently just sit and wait. I knew they would 'eventually' make their way over to me.
It didn't take them long...and they worked their way down...right in front of me. She stuck her head out in the defensive mode. She's definitely not as social as he is. He proceeded to pop up in front of me. I was able to get some beautiful reflective shots before she lured him back out farther.
On the way back out I found a pair of Canada geese with five tiny goslings....and a pair of courting kingfishers. I headed out at 10:30am.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge May 7, 2017
6:45 am a gorgeous but cold and windy morning...the sunshine is the most uplifting thing and motivator.
Trumpeter swans landed on F Pool only to be quickly chased off by the terriotorial male whose mate is nesting across the pool.
It was quiet in the woods...the little birds aren't too happy about the winds. E Pool is busy but everything is back farther out of the northwinds.
I did find some green-winged teals and American wigeons along the F/E spillway....but they flew back further when they caught sight of me. Still lots of yellowlegs...but only a few Caspian terns...some Northern shovellers and northern pintails...trumpeter swans and Canada geese.
I was blest to sit quietly for over two hours and witness a pair of Caspian terns courting. He brought her a fish...she nudged him lovingly. Then they copulated...with her reaching up and grabbing his beak in a loving kiss. I'm always amazed what I am privileged to witness if I am just patient and quiet...out with nature.
I was so happy to find ABJ and his mate actually nesting. The merlins are definitely nesting on the back side of J Pool. I spooked two American bitterns out of the marsh on the back of F Pool/I Pool. I witenessed four Northern flickers courting and vieing for attention. And the ospreys were in their nest behind the Visitors Center.
We went to the Toonerville Trolley to take down the old blind...and saw Junior.
We then went to the rivermouth of the Tahquamenon to see if we could find the garganey teal or neotropic cormorant...to no avail. We went up to Whitefish Pt. and enjoyed lots of birds at the feeders and two snowshoe hares.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal April 30, 2017
I headed the Refuge around 10:00am with an east wind…partly cloudy and 48 degrees. The ring-necked ducks are in the Visitors show pool…and at the start of F Pool. I also found two male and one female hooded mergansers along the way.
I was happy to see ABJ and his mate together…although that means they probably haven’t nested yet. They seemed to still be ‘looking’. I was finally able to get close enough to her later in the day to see her left leg band “V4” confirming that she is he mate.
One of the F Pool territorial trumpeter swans was busy chasing interlopers out of his nesting area. As I was hiking along I heard the telltale scream of a merlin. I finally found her…and he was flying above her along F Pool. As I was heading back later in the day…I found their nest!! I’m not sure if they have ‘officially’ nested or if they are still in the construction stage. I am so excited. I love these little falcons.
I heard more and more little songbirds along the way…but I’m not as knowledgeable about them as I am raptors and water birds. It was just a joy to sit and watch them flit around.
Before I got to E Pool…I heard them…Caspian terns squawking and Greater yellowlegs peeping!! I spent over two hours sitting and watching all the activity on E Pool. Now that it is lower to allow for restoration along the Marshland drive…more water birds…dabblers and shorebirds are finding it a great place to stop and rest a spell.
There were Northern shovelers…Northern pintails…green-winged teals…blue-winged teals…maybe an American wigeon or two…the Caspian terns…common mergansers…and tons of Greater yellowlegs. At times I didn’t know which way to look first.
Then seven double crested cormorants landed on F Pool. I knew ABJ and his mate wouldn’t be happy about that. Luckily they just stayed a few minutes before heading north.
It was a great three and a half hour time spent out with nature.
Later in the evening I made the hike back to E Pool with my friend Jean Rautiola…still lots of action on E Pool and we got to see ABJ and his mate.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal April 24, 2017
I got to the Refuge around 11:30 after the weather cleared off a little. The temps were in the forties with a southeast wind.
I meet my ruffed grouse puffed up and parading around again. A Northern male flicker seranaded me as I started my hike. Ring-necked ducks were in F Pool along with Canada geese and a few trumpeter swan pairs.
A broad winged hawk flew over the marsh. I found one of the loons way out in the middle of F Pool. The little birds were really flitting about...ruby crowned kinglets...yellow rumped warblers...rose breasted nuthatches etc.
I spent over an hour wathcing 24 Caspian terns fighting...flying and squawking on E Pool. The pool is really getting lower...which is going to make for some interesting dynamics this year on the Refuge. The Refuge has to do restroations to some of the banks along the Marshland Drive this summer...so they have to lower the water levels on E Pool. This will be a much needed benefit to keep the Drive open and safe for auto traffic.
There were also several common mergnasers...fighting trumpeter swans and kingfishers on E Pool. The bald eagles both flew into the nest. I'm not so sure they have had any young. Hopefully they will re-clutch and be successful. It's sadly been a few years since they had a successful nest.
As I headed back to the truck from E Pool I spent quite a bit of time enjoying the little songbirds that were migrating through. It was cold but at least not as windy and a little more activity...still just a joy to spend time with the wildlife at my Happy Place.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal April 23, 2017
A brisk 38 degrees with a north winds at 11:00 am...clouds then partly sunny. We found woood ducks in the channel along M77...and an osprey in the nest. Then back at 4:45pm to take a hike. A ruffed grouse was puffed up crossing the Entrance Rd. I heard a Wilson snipe flying as I started by hike around F Pool...and a male northern harrier was flying over the marsh.
One loon on F Pool...does this mean they are already nesting?? Trumpeter swans are starting to nest already. I spooke a pair of hooded mergansers out of the little pool by the F/E spillway. About a dozen Caspian terns were enjoying themselves on the lowering E Pool...along with some common mergansers. I watched as an eagle nabbed a fish off of F Pool and a second eagle came in after it. They then headed back to the nest on E Pool. The ospreys were in their nest screaming at the time. I first thought an eagle was trying to get a fish from the osprey.
A pair of sandhill cranes was wandering around E/H marsh...along with a dozen ring-necked ducks on H Pool that flew off as soon as the caught a glimpse of me. Some buffleheads were at the end of H Pool. A male kingfisher was chattering on J Pool...the female was further down chattering. I spotted the J Pool loon farther out. Another pair of sandhill cranes was cackling in F marsh. Merlins sounded like they were buildling a nest at the end of J Pool and then I heard more at the end of I Pool. I spooked a Wilson snipe out of the back side of F in the marshes. The Visitors Center osprey were in their nest along with ring-necked ducks and a pied billed grebe in the front pool.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge April 17, 2017
Sadly it was cloudy all day Sunday...so we headed southwest to find some sun and wildlife. By Monday it took all day for us to get to the Refuge. Finally after 2:00pm the sun starting arriving...but so did the north winds and 38 degree temperture.
Still...any day we can spend time on the Refuge is a good day. The osperys have returned to their nest behind the Visitors Center. It is so good to hear them calling to each other.
ABJ and his mate were out looking at nesting sites at the beginning of F Pool. It was great to see she has returned to celebrate her mate's 30th birthday. She is actually a year or two older than him...as estimated by Common Coast Research. They have been together more than 20 years...which is unusal for loons. They do not usually mate for life.
Mrs. ABJ got bored with nest hunting and went off to preen....her usual MO...while he decided to do some fishing.
The osprey pair was back at their nest on F Pool. E Pool is being lowered we found out...after a visit with Refuge manager Sara S. The banks need to have rocks added to shore up the drive along the Marshland drive. This will impact some of the wildlife but not as much as if they ignored the issue. So it will interesting to see how this will impact the other pools on Refuge...and the dynamics within.
I did find some blue-winged teals in the channel between E and H Pools. A pair of sandhills flew over H to E. A pair of trumpeter swans was working on a nest on one of the islands in J Pool while a pair of kingfishers chased each other around.
As I circled around I Pool I spooked up some ring-necked ducks and a femal sharp-tailed grouse. It was a nice hike despite the cold and wind. It was just great to have ABJ and his mate back together...making it worth all worthwhile.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge April 9, 2017
Finally the clouds moved out around 9:30am as I made way to the Refuge. The day started with a slight breeze and forty degree temps...but quickly warmed up as the sun broke through the clouds.
I hiked around F Pool to find ABJ who had just been confirmed returned on Tuesday. I found him near the spillway area. I was able to spend some time with him as he fished his way around the channel. He was intently looking in the sky for the return of his mate....hopefully soon. He will be 30 years old this year...the first known banded loon in 1987. Adult banded juvenile...which all of the loons are called when first banded...but he is the first and so he is capitalized...ABJ.
Kingfishers are courting...chasing each other around E and F Pools. There are lots of trumpeters swans on E Pool with several pair having already staked out nesting sites.
I found a pair of green-winged teals on E Pool but they quickly flew. I have yet to get very close to these skittish birds.
A male song sparrow seranaded me...along with red-winged blackbirds...grackles...yellow rumped warblers etc.
I hears snadhill cranes cackling all around the Refuge...the sounds of Spring were everywhere. A male common merganser flew from F over to H Pool.
Yeah...our J Pool male...AT...is back. He spent time along the channel where I got a chance to see his band. I sat and ate my lunch with him....perfect setting. Then wave after wave of sandhill cranes started flying over me!!! They were flying from the southwest heading northeast. Talk about perfect....what a better way to spend time out with nature!!! There had to have been well over two hundred sandhills flying!!!
I circled back by I Pool where a few trumpeter swans were staking claims...I spooked a few ring-necked ducks, too. There were a few hooded mergansers on the pool in front of the Visitors Center.
Then I headed over to the Wigwams were I enjoyed a little activity on the North Show Pool. The male trumpeter swan came up to where I was sitting on a stump. Sadly you can tell that people are feeding them. It's illegal to feed wildlife on the Refuge...and deadly to them if you feed them bread.
Anyways I told him not to beg...so he preened a little for me. As I was shooting him...his mate decided to get in on the action. Then a litte snowy bunting buzzed by my head...landing on a log in the water near me. How sweet to get that close to one of these hyper little birds. Then the Canada goose pair came over to pose for me. Amazing what gifts you are given if you just sit still and be quiet.
Well, the male trumpeter swan went up on land further back on the pool to really preen and clean. So I decided to walk back that way. On my way I found the snow bunting feeding in the tall grasses at the edge of the pool.
All Photographs Copyrighted by Michael & Teresa McGill/McGills Nature in Motion-Unauthorized use prohibited