The following entries are from the McGills continuing exploration of Seney National Wildlife Refuge located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This Refuge holds a special place in the hearts of Michael & Teresa. It is, in fact, a 'refuge' for them providing them with a peaceful, serene place to do what they love most-photograph and film Michigan's wonderful wildlife.
Back in da U.P. heading to the Refuge before dawn...to hopefully see some sandhill cranes...northern harriers...and some of handsome male wood ducks....like I saw last weekend. Feeling excited.
I was on the Refuge before sunrise. I found a few sandhill cranes on the back side of H Pool...along with a great blue heron. Unfortunately the sandhills chose to fly away from me. But the great blue flew right over me and landed in a tree behind. It was so awesome to have one of these prehistoric creatures fly right over my head.
A saw a few golden plovers...but they didn't come in near me. I also saw my juvenile northern harriers...but they, too, didn't come close.
I didn't stay too long but went looking for wood ducks. I found a few in C Pool. As I was finishing my first run I found a great blue heron at the end marsh...unfortunately another vehicle spooked it off.
I checked out the South Show Pool where I found the trumpeter swans with their three cygnets....and a very photogenic sandhill crane pair. I had fun spending time with them.
A sandhill crane family was out feeding in F Pool later in the morning on my second run through. It was a picture perfect day at Seney National Wildlife Refuge.
I guess they didn't like me watching them...although I was on the other side of my truck shooting over the hood at them. So they took off...but luckily turned and flew back in front of me
I got some nice shots of the sandhill crane colt as it was getting ready to take flight.
Before I had time to pull back on my zoom...the sandhill cranes flew back right in front of me. Sweet!! What an amazing day I had yesterday at Seney National Wildlife Refuge
I did get the chance to see two American bittern on Seney National Wildlife Refuge. The time is coming to a close for our Refuge. October 20 is the last day. October 1 my favorite haunt the Fishing Loop is closed till next May 15. So this weekend was saying good bye to a lot of my wildlife...including our black bears along the tracks of the Tahquamenon Falls Riverboat Tours & the Famous Toonerville Trolley.
It's always great to catch one male wood ducks but even sweeter when I can capture four of these handsome devils...in the soft evening light.
Septmeber 28, 2015
We headed onto the Refuge...and found this lone American coot feeding in the channel. Hope to find more of them in two weeks when we return. I love these funny looking birds...especially their feet.
We found the pair of trumpeter swans from F Pool in a small pool with their last surviving cygnet. All in all it was a good year for swan cygnets. J Pool still have all five of their cygnets. If the eagles had had young...it would have been a different story.
We found a pair of sandhill cranes and their colt feeding near the spillway on E Pool. It was great to see them still here. I'm sure they will be gone by the time we get back in two weeks. They should be gathering at Rudyard soon to await the thermals that will carry them south across the Straits of Mackinac to their wintering grounds. I miss their sounds...waiting for their return...when their herald in spring.
I even found an American bittern hiding in a place I have never see anything. So always look...everywhere...every time. You just never know what you will find.
Some very dark foreboding clouds moved in...but at least the sun shone for part of the day while we were on the Refuge.
And of course I was able to get some shot of the beautiful wood ducks...males and females...as they were enjoying the last rays of sunshine for the day.
One last shot of a handsome male wood duck in his fall breeding plumage. I was able to sneak up on him before he finally caught me...and flew away.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal September 22, 2015
I have really started enjoying my early morning ventures into the Refuge. I love being the first human to enter as nature starts its new day. The sights...the sounds...the smells...of a new dawn sets my soul at peace...all is right with the world.
The cacophony of cackling of the sandhill cranes was music to my ears as it filled the air...starting the new day at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. It wasn't heavy with mist like yesterday. Every day can be so different here...atmospheric changes affecting the wildlife and landscape. But isn't that the joy of it...never knowing just what you may find?
I caught a pair of sandhill cranes flying out of the area into the rising sun. My H Pool sandhill crane family was the first ones to come out and greet the day...as usual. They seemed to be more tolerant of the other visiting sandhills now. Who knows if they will still be here next week. But with the mild weather we are experiencing...the wildlife just might not be ready to leave the U.P. quite yet..hope.
The H Pool sandhills decided to fly over to their 'island' to feed this morning. I'll check on them on my way back to the truck.
My juvenile northern harrier popped up out the grasses to do a little hunting. It wasn't as mystical as the mist...but it was pretty in the rising sunlight just the same.
I did see a few juvenile golden plovers this morning just after sunrise...but no photo ops. A pair of juvenile merlins entertained me...chasing each other.
One of the juvenile merlins did a flyby over my head...flying toward the rising sun...perfect.
After I decided to leave my hidey hole...I went to check on the sandhill crane family. They were feeding along the shoreline...but the lighting was terrible. So I tried sneaking by them...to no avail. They took off and flew to the back side of the pool. But I did at least snap a quick shot of 'junior' flying away.
My next quest was to find some wood ducks to shoot in the morning light. I found them near the Visitors Center. I was able to sneak up on them enough to get a few shots before the female spotted me and flew off...followed by the 'boys'.
I found a handsome male wood duck in another area just enjoying his breakfast...no ladies to bother him.
I was happy on my second run through to find G Pool juvenile loon near the shore in the same area as last night. It was quite wary of my presence. Poor thing...all alone in this great big world. It looks like its daddy has already left.
Then I found three juvenile hooded mergansers on the west end of E Pool along with a couple of male wood ducks. There were lots of ring-necked, blue-winged teals and pied billed grebes throughout the Refuge.
I only spotted one American bittern today...and that was flying in the predawn when I was near F Pool. Sadly I didn't see one single great blue heron....strange. I have been seeing both on a regular basis.
Well, the bald eagle was back on the osprey nest on D Pool. It looks like they are stealing the sticks for their own nest...the little buggers. The poor osprey family will have to work hard come spring to build it back up. It's not the first time this pair has stolen from this nest.
One last male wood duck before we headed out of the Refuge...till next Sunday.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal September 21, 2015
I was up before dawn to get to Seney National Wildlife Refuge so I could witness the sunrise with the sound of the sandhill cranes filling the mist. It was awesome!!! As I entered the Refuge a woodcock was on the drive...in the dark. I didn't stop to bother it...but quickly went on my way.
So now I should be sharing the amazing photos I took....sunrise...sandhills flying out of the mist...H Pool sandhill family feeding with their reflections...my northern harrier coming straight out of the mist flying right over my head...a 3rd year bald eagle flying right in front of me....wood ducks in the sunlight...a great blue heron feeding right near the drive...and so much more. But sadly they all got deleted...yep deleted. I was in the car after going back to the black bear blind...in a hurry...working off a card reader instead of downloading on to my laptop...which has been having problems (external hard drive back at the trailer). Pushed the wrong button at the wrong time...and poof...gone! No retrieval possible. But I have those moments captured in my mind.
At first I was sick over it...but after thinking about it...my morning was still glorious...something I won't soon forget. It's not the photos that make the day...it's being out with nature. Granted if it wasn't for my love of photographing wildlife I wouldn't be out there...but it is totally worth getting out there...for whatever reason...to experience the wonders of nature.
So my dear husband took me back to the Refuge where I was immediately greeted by a half a dozen handsome male wood ducks...and proceeded to take over a hundred photos of them...before continuing on the drive. So...Life is Good!!!
More male wood ducks showing off their fall breeding plumage to me...helping me get over my loss of my morning photos. They did make it much better. So...Life is still good!
This male wood duck even showed off his full body figure to me...quite the looker. I couldn't believe how close I was able to get to them this afternoon. It's like they knew I needed a little extra special moment. Then the little pied billed grebes were out and about...letting get some sweet shots of them...in the sunlight. A great day on the Refuge.
Then my northern harriers made several appearances throughout the Refuge...making up for my lost misty morning encounter...almost.
I was really happy to get up close and personal at least one more time with G Pool young loon. I haven't seen any signs of ABJ and his young...or my J Pool loons...or D Pool loons. So it was great to see this little. Who knows if it will still be here next week. I'm pretty sure I saw it flying this morning working on strengthen those wings for its long journey to its wintering grounds
Then more male wood ducks on C Pool to help make my day complete on Seney National Wildlife Refuge. It is so great to see so many of them this year....and so accessible
I even got my great blue heron in flight to make up for the shots I lost from this morning. All in all...a very good day in the U.P. and at Seney National Wildlife Refuge
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal September 20, 2015
It was another awesome Sunday morning at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. It was a gorgeous sunrise...a little cool at 46 degrees with a south wind blowing. I was greeted by a great blue heron out in the early morning light.
I was happy to find a couple of widgeons hanging out with the wood ducks this morning on E Pool. Hope to find more of these unique birds tomorrow morning.
Yeah!!! The sandhill crane family on H Pool was still there...and keeping everyone in line...as usual. There were at least 25 sandhills hanging out on the back side of H Pool this morning. I spent about two hours just hunkered down enjoying the show.
The poor single sandhill crane was the victim of the H Pool daddy's wrath this morning. It kept trying to get away but daddy was not happy with the distance between it and its colt. Luckily for me it flew right in front of me...with the soft morning light shining on it.
My two juvenile northern harriers were busy hunting...but no fly overs this week. But it was still a joy to watch these beautiful raptors.
I also had a small flock of juvenile golden plovers and one adult...spend the morning with me. It was fun to work my lens to catch them swooping around and landing.
The highlight of my morning was finding a peregrine falcon hunting along J Pool. We have never seen one...although they nest along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. It was amazing to watch this little raptor swoop over a small flock of water fowl then land back in the same tree.
I ended my great morning with an American bittern. It was totally oblivious of my presence. The lighting was perfect. I love watching these little guys hunt. Another amazing Sunday at Seney.
Back on Seney National Wildlife Refuge...we found tons of wood ducks. The Females are the ones in control now...as the males try to vie for her attention.
It was also a treat to find so many little pied billed grebes. I love these little cousins to the loons. Unfortunately they like to stay hidden to have their babies.
We also found a large flock of ring-necked and redhead ducks...several juvenile hood mergansers...blue-winged teak juveniles...even a single coot. We only found our G Pool loon chick hanging out...but hopefully we'll spot more of them tomorrow. But who knows...they may have left already. I was able to sneak up on this young merlin who was busy hunting.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal September 7, 2015
I woke up early to some rain but still headed out to the Refuge. It really doesn’t matter what the weather is doing…I just needed some time to de-stress.
I was greeted by a young red-tailed hawk on the Entrance Road. It sat in the tree for a while before moving on. The wood ducks are still hanging out in the pool in front of the Visitors Center. A great blue heron was doing its early morning fishing at the start of F Pool.
The F Pool trumpeter swans pair still has four cygnets…that were feeding along with a wood duck. ABJ’s young was hanging out in its usual spot on F Pool…ABJ was further out. The E Pool bald eagles were both in the tall pine near their nest. That’s a good sign. Hopefully they are going to do some repairs…preparing for next year’s nesting. My little merlin was hanging out in its usual spot…but too dark to bother it for photos.
It was quite rainy as I journey along H Pool…so not much action there. I did spot J pool young loon out feeding…but no dad with him. I had some fun with kingfisher at the west end of the Fishing Loop. G Pool loons were out quite a ways but at least the dad is still with the young. I spotted an American bittern in a small lagoon on the west end of E Pool. It was quiet most of the rest of the drive till I got to the east end of C Pool. I spotted a young loon. I pulled over to watch it. It appeared to be coming in closer to shore…but then it took off…flying straight across to either E or F Pool. It could be ABJ’s young testing its wings. They have to really work at strengthening their new flight feathers and wings to be ready to take the long journey to their wintering grounds.
Well, I decided to take another run through as it appeared to be raining less and less. So back I go to spend time with great blue herons, loons and sandhill cranes. My usual spot was taken on H Pool so I sat in the drive and photographed the sandhill crane family as they fed along the drive. Every photo could be the last photos I get of this sweet colt. It can fly now…and it’s just a matter of time till they head to the fall staging area to make their trek south.
Still didn’t have a chance at photos of my J Pool young loon. I miss the little guy. But my American bittern was still hunting in the lagoon so I stopped and spent some time with it. The G Pool loons were still out too far. No sign of D Pool loons…yet.
The wood ducks are pretty much all around the Refuge…and not as skittish as they usually are. The males are still not in their fall breeding plumage…except for one on the VC pool. But they are definitely starting to ‘chase’ the ladies around. I found several pied billed grebes…but they are being very shy…submerging before I can snap a shot. Still a lot of ring-necked ducks throughout the Refuge, too.
The Canada geese young are almost full grown and will be ready to head south soon. The trumpeter swan cygnets are just losing their downy feathers and acquiring their adult feathers…so they aren’t quite ready to fly.
I did get to photograph one of the American bittern that are hanging out in the marsh at the end of the Marshland Drive.
Well, I decided to go back to the trailer to check on poor Michael. He is sick with a very bad cold. I’m my way back I got distracted with a large gathering of sandhill cranes. They were flying from a harvested wheat field over to an alfalfa. What fun to listen and watch these beautiful creatures. It was great to see so many colts among them, too.
Michael just wanted to sleep…so I headed back to the Refuge. And lo and behold the sun came out. Yeah!!
I started by getting some nice shots of one of the male wood ducks…still in eclipse…but handsome nonetheless. Then more wood ducks on F Pool. ABJ and his young were not available for photos. But J Pool had a pair of sandhill cranes with their colt…feeding on the long island. It was the F marsh pair…the one adult is banded. It’s great to see their colt made it, too.
Lucky me…G Pool loons were feeding near the shore. I was able to get some sweet shots especially of daddy. The lighting was perfect. I had them to myself…but not for long. Oh well, I said goodbye and headed down the drive.
I found people shooting what appeared to be ospreys on their nest. I thought maybe the young hadn’t left yet. Wrong….it was a pair of bald eagles….more than likely the G Pool pair. They sat and sat and sat. I wouldn’t be surprised to come back and find this nest destroyed…again. A few years ago they removed the sticks for their own nest…thus destroying it for anything that might want to nest there. Their eagle nest is behind this area on G Pool.
While I was waiting for the people to move on…a northern harrier flew over. Awesome!!! It flew over me…but the lighting was all wrong…but still cool to see it.
Traffic was a little too much for the wildlife…and me. The wildlife seemed to be hanging away from the drive.
So I decided to take one more run through with the sun shining brightly. I was happy to have a young raven pop up off the ground and land on a dead tree right next to me. I love ravens and crows. They are the most intelligent and mischievous birds.
ABJ was preening by the shore…but a vehicle was coming up quickly behind me so moved on. I need to write a Refuge etiquette pamphlet….especially no honking horns and slamming doors.
Well, finally I had J Pool all to myself and the young loon was sleeping further down the walking trail. So I hunkered down to sit quietly and observe. The lighting was perfect…the weather was perfect…and the company was priceless.
The young loon would sleep…drift closer to shore…wake up…and paddle back to the middle of the channel…then go back to sleep. It did this over and over throughout the hour or more I spent with it. It would do a little preening and stretching…then back to sleep. I never once saw or heard the daddy. I’m thinking he has left. So that makes it even sadder to see this young one all alone in the wild.
It finally started to look for food. I decided I had bothered it long enough…and didn’t want to stress the poor thing…so I moved on. I had a lovely time photographing and just observing this beautiful creature. I wished it well…and hoped to meet it again one day.
On the far end of J Pool I found a juvenile hood merganser enjoying some quiet time with three juvenile blue-winged teals. I could hear shorebirds…but they were back into far to make out just what they were. Of course I could hear the sound of the yellowlegs…they are noisy little birds.
On the west end of the Fishing Loop I found a little solitary sandpiper ‘dipping’ along a log in the channel. I thought that was an interesting place for a shorebird…no shore there. But the lighting was perfect to shoot it.
The warblers seemed to be gathering. I found a large flock of yellow rumps at the corner of the Fishing Loop and the Marshland Drive.
I was hung up in traffic while someone was photographing one of the D Pool young loons. It was good to see at least one of them this weekend. Hopefully they are both still with us.
The wood ducks are really enjoying the eats on C Pool. The males are still not in breeding plumage but chasing the girls anyways. I love it…they don’t fly off when I slow down to take their photos.
Then as I was leaving the Refuge for the evening I spotted the two American bittern still hunting out in the marsh with their great blue heron friend. It was a great way to end the day.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal September 6, 2015
We spent the first part of the day along the tracks of the Toonerville Trolley. We finally made to the Refuge around 4:00pm.
The wood ducks were out and about in the pool in front of the Visitors Center. The males are still not in fall breeding plumage…but chasing the girls anyways.
The great blue herons were out fishing along the beginning of F Pool….along with more wood ducks. The sun had been shining…but unfortunately the clouds moved in as we headed deeper into the Refuge.
ABJ and his young were out feeding along the shore. It won’t be long now and ABJ and his young will head out for their wintering grounds. The juvenile is now three months old and ready to start flying. We also found the H Pool sandhill cranes out with their colt. Always good to see them…soon they, too, will be flying off to gather for their trip south….catching the thermals with several thousand other cranes.
I didn’t see any sign of my J Pool loons. Sandhill cranes were out on the island…blue-winged teal juveniles were out at the end of J Pool.
The J Pool trumpeter swans were out in the mud bog at the end of J Pool…with all five cygnets. Daddy was standing guard as the young enjoyed feeding.
G Pool loons were out too far for photos but daddy is still with the chick which is great to see.
No sign of the D Pool loons either. Hopefully they are on the back side of the pool fishing.
More wood ducks…a few pied billed grebes…and ring-necked ducks on C Pool. We even found an osprey on the Gray’s Marsh Pool. We thought they had all headed south by now. The osprey parents leave first to heading possibly to South America. The young leave later when they have perfected their hunting and flying skills.
We had a traffic jam at the end of the marsh. Finally got to where everyone was standing and photographing…after they all finally left. I realized they were shooting not one but two America bitterns and a great blue heron. Good to see some activity in this marsh again.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge August 30, 2015
I started my early morning Sunday at Seney around 7:15am to gloomy foggy weather but mild temperatures and a breeze.
BJ and his chick were there to greet me…as usual. I watched as two juvenile hooded mergansers flew in near them. Well, ABJ went into defensive mode as did his young. They dove and came up right under the hoodies scaring them out of the loons’ territory. It was so cool to see the young actually bolt out of the water. Daddy is teaching it well on how to defend himself and his territory.
Further down the Fishing Loop I spooked a Great blue heron. It then flew further back on E marsh to sit on top of a pine tree.
H Pool was alive with the sights and sounds of sandhill cranes. A pair with a colt was feeding on an island but it wasn’t the H Pool pair. They were in their usual spot. I parked and walked out to sit amongst the wet sweet grass and enjoy the show.
I had juvenile northern harrier to my right sitting on a knoll…another flew behind me hunting. A young eagle was sitting in a dead tree way out in front of me. I also had a greater yellowleg fly in to feed right in front of me. Sandhill cranes were everywhere cackling and flying…waking up to start feeding. Well, the territorial pair was not happy with all the company. They spent their morning chasing off intruders that got to close to their colt which can now fly.
At one point ‘junior’ flew back to what it though was its parents. Ooops…those were not the right parents. So those two sandhills got chased in no uncertain terms…away from the colt.
A flock of solitary sandpipers flew in way out in front of me. Not too long afterwards a merlin flew by me…fly low. As I was standing photographing the sandills I heard wings over my head. I swung my camera up but the harrier was too close to shoot. Wow! It looked back at me as if to say, “I didn’t see you there…in your camo”. It was so cool to be eye to eye with this beautiful raptor.
The other harrier had flown off the mound into a tree out on an island unbeknownst to me. The harrier that flew over my head flew over and knocked the other one out of the tree…then off they went. Meanwhile the eagle sat and watched all the action around it. I heard loons flying…Canada geese flew in to feed with the sandhill…and a flock of blue-winged teals flew over. It was an awesome morning!!!
I decided to move on to check on the J Pool loons but they were out feeding on the backside of the pool. I finally arrived at G Pool. Daddy loon and his chick were out quite a ways out. I settled in my usual spot and waited. They came up and feed along the shore near me. Perfect.
I left them and headed to D Pool. Daddy loon was out but I couldn’t see wither of the young. While I was watching the daddy one young osprey was screaming from the nest while the other was trying to fish. It flew right by me shaking off the water from it failed attempt.
There were lots of wood ducks everywhere. The boys still don’t have their fall breeding plumage but soon.
I even got to photograph a northern flicker. I had seen it land in a jack pine. I was able to get some sweet shots of it preening showing me its yellow underwings.
A few more wood ducks, pied billed grebes and ring-necked ducks...and a shy great blue heron as I left the refuge.
I decided to make one more quick run through before going back for Michael.
I started right out with finding four great blue herons at the start of F Pool. ABJ and his chick were near the shore feeding so I stopped to get a few photos of them in better lighting. At 28 years old I never know when it may be the last time we see this amazing loon.
I spooked another great blue heron on the Fishing Loop. It flew over and spooked some sandhill cranes of an island in F Pool where a pair of trumpeter swans were resting with their one cygnet. Sadly they have lost yet another.
As I approached H Pool I was so excited to find a great egret out fishing. I walked down the trail but it flew out farther to the west. I thought I might be able to get closer to it from the drive. As I was approaching the area it landed I spotted three river otters in the channel!!!!! I was so excited. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. They seemed to be as curious about me as I was of them. I took several shots then decided I’d better back up and park before someone pushed me down the drive.
I parked behind a knoll I was able to walk through the trees and down the bank to hide behind a fallen tree to watch them. Perfect. They were almost ready to come on shore when a car game by. URRGHHHHH! They, of course, saw the otters and stopped to take photos. Luckily they didn’t get out of their car. After a few minutes they drove away. Before long one of the otters came on shore but just briefly. I’m not sure it saw me or heard the camera clicking away.
While they were all under water I reposition myself for a clearer shot and less noticeable. About ten minutes later and back they came. Two of them came on shore while one stayed in the water as lookout.
Too amazing to have them that close to me. They didn’t stay long….just long enough for some sweet shots. At that point Michael called to say he was ready. I really wanted to stay longer. I had a feeling they would come back in. But I was just happy to have spent some up close and personal time with them.
The afternoon was not quite as eventful but fun nonetheless.
In the afternoon Michael and I made a couple of runs through. We spooked up this great blue heron along the Gray's Marsh Pool. It didn't hang around for photo ops. But the great blue heron at the end of the drive was more than willing to let me photograph it. I think it was because it wasn't ready to move on...the eats were too good.
The perfect ending to the day was getting to spend time with my J Pool daddy loon and his chick....along with a noisy sandhill crane pair...and the J Pool trumpeter swans with their five cygnets. Perfect
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal August 24, 2015
It was a good decision to go see our black bears yesterday. We woke up to black skies and heavy winds with temps in the 50's. Brrrrrrr.
We did go to the Refuge though before we said goodbye to the U.P. once again. We found a large group of over forty sandhill cranes gathered in a harvested wheat field between Curtis and Gremfask. It's always fun to watch them fly in...land and greet each other. Sadly the gathering means fall is on its way...and migration will soon start.
At the Refuge...ABJ, Jr was hanging out by itself. It’s time for it to get used to spending time alone. It needs to practice its survival skills to get through its first winter migration. Although...usually ABJ waits to leave in the fall...with his young. He is truly an exceptional parent.
ABJ came near his young...but did not come over to feed it as he has been doing. It's time for this young one to hone its survival skills. But this good dad is never far away. He will actually wait to head south with his young...not usual for loons to do.
ABJ was enjoying a nice size bullhead...and not sharing this one.
Of course we had to make a stop to check on our J Pool loons. Junior was down farther along the shore. But daddy came in to check on me...showing me his stuff. Hard to leave these guys knowing one day soon they will leave us for their wintering grounds
J Pool loon chick...strolled over to say goodbye to me. By next weekend it will probably have lost all its baby feathers. They grow up so fast...but they have to in order to fly south to their wintering grounds.
One last critter before we left the Refuge...the merlin was hunting on its 'usual' tree along J Pool. Love to watch these fast little raptors. So we left the Refuge with 59 degrees...wind...and rain. At least it wasn't snowing.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal August 22 & 23, 2015
It was a beautiful evening at Seney National Wildlife Refuge tonight. The sun was setting beautifully. Our loons were out on the backside of the pools...so no photo ops there. But we did find a family of sharp-tailed grouse out for a stroll. Momma told the kids to fly into the brush as she 'lured' us away from them. Can't wait till tomorrow morning when I hopefully get to see our loonies...and a little sunshine.
Before I entered the Refuge at 6:30am a great blue heron flew over me…heading out of the Refuge…wrong way.
I started my early morning Sunday in Seney with...of course...ABJ and his chick…and...of course...the sun was hiding behind a low bank of clouds. It didn't matter...just great to be here...in this peaceful place.
What is that they say..."red sky in morning...sailors take warning". Yikes...I guess it's true...but it didn't hit till after 1:00pm...after a wonderful morning at Seney then midday with our black bears....good enough for me.
When the sun finally lifted above the clouds...it was gorgeous. I stopped at H Pool to enjoy the morning revelry of the sandhill cranes that are starting to gather...yep gather for fall staging
My J Pool loon daddy and chick were out too far...so hopefully I will catch up with them later. But I did find a small gathering of male wood ducks...still in eclipse on G Pool. They should be sporting their fall breeding plumage soon. They breed twice...once in the spring here...then in the fall after they migrate south
I was excited to find G Pool daddy with his handsome chick near the shore. I sat in one of my usual spots to wait...I wasn't disappointed. They came in near me...then momma showed up and off they went. I wasn't sure if the females were still here yet. Usually they leave in August...sadly it won't be long now.
I did find a couple of American bittern on the west end of E Pool...where the lighting was definitely not good. But it's still good to see them
I finally found the two D Pool chicks out and about together with one of their parents. Last week the one was keeping its distance from the parents and sibling. I think it's a male...showing its independence. But typical male...when a free meal presented itself...he took it.
It was great to see quite a few pied billed grebes this morning. Granted none of them were close enough for decent shots...but still great to see them.
I found my handsome single loon hiding out at the end of C Pool. He didn't like the sound of other loons flying over...thought it might be the territorial pair out for a morning 'stroll'. I "talked" to him...and believe it or not...because he did...come right up to where I was hanging. Sorry but it actually happened. I guess I need to video me 'talking' to my loons and their reactions. At the end of the drive while I was looking for an American bittern...a great blue heron flew out of the marsh. I snapped a shot as it landed. It was a great way to end my morning run through.
Well I guess my visit on the Refuge wasn't quite over. I decided to pop down to the Wigwams to see if any great blue herons were down there. There weren't any herons...but I did find this beautiful pair of sandhill cranes in the gorgeous morning light. They weren't too happy with a small flock of Canada geese that decided to flying to their feeding area.
It's been a very interesting day. Started with clouds...then sun on the Refuge...then black bears...and rain...took a break...then sun again after 5:00...so back to Seney National Wildlife Refuge.
We spotted FIVE great blue herons all within a few yards of each other as we started down the Marshland Drive. Of course the lighting sucked but it was great to see so many 'greats' in one place. Now bring on the great egrets and it will be a party.
Next to greet us this evening on the Seney National Wildlife Refuge was ABJ, Jr. It was actually napping when we first spotted it. Daddy was out enjoying a little 'him' time. All of a sudden he took off and landed at the far end of F Pool...then started to take a bath.
I love my J Pool Daddy loon at Seney National Wildlife Refuge He is always good for some great action. He and his young were at their usual spot...feeding. I can't say it often enough...what a good dad he has become. He is giving ABJ a run for his money...but not quite as successful...yet.
He has molted since last Sunday. He is molting into his winter plumage...and will look like his chick (as soon as it gets its adult feathers)...all grey and white.
Sandhill cranes were flying around Seney National Wildlife Refuge...starting to settle in for the night. They are starting to gather and get social...at least the unattached and coltless ones. Fall staging is just a few weeks away. Yikes!
As we left our loons and headed down J Pool we spotted this amazing family of trumpeter swans. All five cygnets have made it…so far. This is an awesome pair of parents. I couldn't resist shooting a few photos of them all looking so well-mannered right in a row....we also had a young merlin hunting in a tree. The clouds and rain moved back in as we left the Refuge for the evening. All and all it was a very good day.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal August 17, 2015
Despite the gloomy wet weather...we did visit our Refuge midday. It was great to see so many great blue herons making an appearance. Many of them are young ones...which are usually a little easier to photograph...unless someone slams their car door...urrrrgghhh! Oh well, at least I caught it taking off.
After the very stormy night and wet morning...most of the wildlife was trying to catch up on their zzzz's.
We have a single loon hanging out on H Pool. Hope it decides to come back next spring with a mate...and settle here...since H Pool loons moved to J Pool this year. Oh and bullheads were what was on the menu today. Saw several of them being eaten by other loons today.
The ospreys are fledging and hanging out near the nest on D Pool. They may have learned to fly...but they still aren't ready to find their own food. You can hear them from over a mile away
Tonight I decided to take an evening run through hoping for a glimpse of sun later...but no luck. It didn't matter...my loonies were still out and about for me to visit with
The single loon was quietly floating near the shore on H Pool tonight. Even in the gloom...it was beautiful to see and photograph.
My J Pool daddy and chick were out and about tonight, too. A family had just left the fishing pier where the loons were wanting to feed. They worked their way down along the shore where the gated drive is. Daddy got tense when an immature eagle flew over…but it was heading toward I Pool without slowing down.
I even found G Pool loons out near the shore tonight feeding their growing chick. It's starting to lose its baby feathers. By next week it will have its adult feathers.
I even surprisingly found a little Wilson snipe along the shore at the west end of E Pool....where I have been seeing the bittern.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal August 16, 2015
I got to spend a very gloomy early morning with some of my wildlife here at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. I saw three great blues as I started my run through. Of course my buddy ABJ and his almost full grown chick were hanging out in their usual spot having breakfast.
Daddy ABJ was very co-operative giving baby his catch. Although baby let the crayfish get away...too many pinchers to deal with.
As I headed toward J Pool I got to witness several crows being attacked by a little merlin...which was then attacked by a flock of blue jays. Later the merlin and three kingfishers were having a disagreement.
Lucky for me the J Pool loons with their baby were feeding along the shoreline. I actually was able to spend quite a bit of time with them walking along the beach photographing their feeding time.
It was so cute to watch the very independent J pool chick ignoring his parents offering of food...trying to catch its own. This little one has been very independent right from the start....trying to dive at a very young age.
J Pool chick finally gave in and ate both offerings from his parents. Smart baby. It's great to see it doing so well.
It's a joy to spend quiet time with the residents of Seney National Wildlife Refuge. I watched a pair of trumpeter swans approaching a single swan...thinking about chasing it out of 'their' space.
I was so happy when the sun finally started breaking through the clouds around 9:30. I called Michael and he was power washing the trailer...so I got to take another run through the Refuge! What a good man.
So my F marsh bittern was out hunting...again...but in better lighting. Love these unique little birds.
Shorebirds were starting to be active...lots of yellowlegs and sandpipers. Wood ducks are everywhere...the males are starting to search out the females...although they are not in full fall breeding plumage yet.
A little further in H marsh my sandhill family was closer to the drive feeding. The colt is getting so big...I wouldn't be surprised to see it flying soon. They will start to gather for fall staging later in September. Can September only be just over two weeks away???
I got to see my G Pool loons and their chick...but D Pool loons were, of course, in their usual area on the backside of D Pool. I hate to say it...but...I think we may have lost one of the chicks. I could only see the adults and one chick...but hopefully I'm wrong...time will tell. I did finally verify that one chick was keeping itself distanced from the rest of the family. I guess it is feeling more independent than the other one. Hopefully it stays safe.
I spotted a 2nd year eagle sitting on a dead tree at the edge of B Pool. It's the first eagle I've seen in awhile....strange.
I was excited to find an American bittern on a tree snag... I almost missed it. This made my day!!! It was quite photogenic. I just sat and shot and shot and shot...until it flew down into the marsh...still it didn't care that I was there. This American bittern was so accommodating. It was playing 'king of the brush pile'...a little wing stretch...a little yoga...then take off...flight shot...and landing nicely for me. What a great morning at Seney National Wildlife Refuge!!!
After taking a break and heading to Munising for Michael's birthday...we finally made it back to the Refuge around 5:30pm. Perfect lighting for a perfect evening. It started with a close up of ABJ our oldest known banded loon at the age of 28 years old. I cherish every moment and photo and can get of him. We never know when it may be the last summer we see him. We were excited when a young merlin landed on a dead tree right by us! It sat and 'hunted' for about ten minutes before taking off. What a treat to get to see one of these little raptors up close.
My F marsh American bittern was out hunting in the evening light. It's been great getting to see and photograph so many of these unique little birds.
Lots of shorebirds were flying around H and J Pool…mainly yellowlegs and sandpipers.
My evening was made complete...spending an hour and a half with J Pool daddy and his chick...very up close and personal. I can never get enough of these beautiful birds. Being able to spend time observing them and their personal moments is what makes what I do so awesome.
Daddy would give the chick a tiny fish and the baby would 'hug' daddy as if to say 'thank you' or maybe 'give me more'. One of the most amazing moments was when I watched daddy loon actually go up on land...sit for a few minutes...then slide back into the water. Usually loons go on land to copulate and nest...otherwise they are in the water most of their live. Apparently these loons didn't get the memo. My friend, Kris Horton, had photographed this family go on land during some strong winds...which would make sense...not wanted to lose their baby in the waves. But...that was definitely not the case today. Wow!!! I love what I do...and feel so very blest to experience these special moments.
While I was photographing the loons…snug in a pile of a tree snag. I had a kingfisher being chased by a merlin. They flew right over my head!!! Dang!
I had my doubts about this daddy loon's ability to raise a young when I first observed him with his two day old chick. But I must say he is taking a page out of ABJ's training manual. He fed this little guy the whole time I was watching them...and hour and a half. He even gave it a huge fish that I had thought he...the daddy...was going to eat for himself. He is banded AT...maybe one of ABJ's offspring...who knows.
Ok...like daddy...like baby. Just before I left my J Pool loons...baby decided it was its turn to go up on land. It in fact took a poo...then immediately got back in the water. Strange. Maybe they like to keep them 'home' and food source clean. Whatever the reason this loon family is definitely unique.
The loons started calling….I noticed a young bald eagle flying over the backside of the pool being hassled by some terns.
Then just before I actually did leave J Pool loons...momma came back to relieve daddy of his duties. It was interesting to watch momma and daddy circle each other. Daddy gave her a look like 'where have you been?' Baby was questioning her too. But they actually all stayed together moving down along the pool to once again feed baby. What an absolutely amazing night on the Refuge!!!
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal August 9, 2015
What a gorgeous morning at Seney National Wildlife Refuge!! Dang though...I overslept a half an hour and didn't get to the Refuge till almost 7:30am. But still...I had the place to myself and it was perfect. ABJ and his mate were enjoying some quiet time together while their chick was resting in the shade….so I moved on. They are lowering the levels of H Pool so I spent some time in the bush photographing Lesser Yellowlegs and Least Sandpipers...really nothing lesser or least about them. They are so much fun to watch. The pair of sandhill with their almost full grown colt were out feeding but too far for great photos....still good to see them.
I finally moved on to J Pool and found the loon family near the drive. I didn't bother them too long...they were feeding and the lighting wasn't great. So I just took a few shots and will hope to see them this evening when the lighting is better. This little guy is almost a month old now and going through its ugly duckling stage....but still so very cute…hatched July 11.
At the end of J Pool along the drive and channel, I found the 'big mouth' sandhill crane pair. The male was in the drive cackling and the female was on an island cackling. I stopped and just watched and listened as they carried on their conversation. The male appeared to want her to come over to where he was...but the female was positive that her way was the right way. I finally decided to help them make a decision and slowly approached the male in my truck. He flew to the south...she took off after him and made him circle back the way she wanted to go...north. Women are always the best with directions
Just down the way in the marsh at the end of J Pool I found a male wood duck in eclipse. He will be starting to don his fall breeding plumage soon. I can't wait till then. But they still are beautiful with their big orange eyes.
As I approached G Pool a loon had just landed in the center of the pool....so I quickly headed that way. I parked and settled down in the bush to see what was going to happen. Was it an intruder or just one of the G Pool adults? I didn't have long to wait to find out as I was watching the one....a second loon quietly landed. It was the G Pool pair. So...where was Junior????
I was totally amazed when the G Pool loons...looking for their young...came right in to where I was nestled...along the shore. It was as if they were asking me where their baby was. It was another one of those moments I will not soon forget. The lighting was perfect...the water was perfect...the connection between me and 'my' wildlife...unforgettable. What an awesome morning at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. I am truly blest!
Well I decided to move on as they headed to the south down the pool. I didn't get far when I spotted the baby quietly hanging out in the shadows...waiting for its parents to find it. So I decided to scope out a hiding place midway between parents and baby. I found the perfect place...I could see them...they couldn't see me. I was able to photograph the reunion of the young with the parents. Then.....all of a sudden daddy let out a hoot...momma went defensive then dived...baby dived...and I searched the sky. There it was...a lone loon quietly flying over them. I was able to get a couple of decent shots...my first good BIFs with my new Tamron 150-600mm. I totally love it for my close ups but just haven't perfected those BIFs yet. Maybe I'll get there before time with my raptors this winter in the blind. Did I just say 'winter'. Dang...where has the summer gone???all of a sudden daddy let out a hoot...momma went defensive then dived...baby dived...and I searched the sky. There it was...a lone loon quietly flying over them. I was able to get a couple of decent shots...my first good BIFs with my new Tamron 150-600mm. I totally love it for my close ups but just haven't perfected those BIFs yet. Maybe I'll get there before time with my raptors this winter in the blind. Did I just say 'winter'. Dang...where has the summer gone??
As if the day wasn’t great enough...I barely left the G Pool loons when I spotted this American bittern on the west end of E Pool. The lighting was all wrong...so I decided to take a chance and maneuver so the light was in my favor. I could have screamed and shouted and it wouldn't have noticed...it was that intent on hunting....lucky me.
And my morning wasn't over...I saw two loons flying over E Pool and knew they might swing over D Pool...where I spotted the adult loons. I hurried over to position myself. Just before I got where I wanted to be...the D Pool adult loons took off...flying away from me. I knew if I waited long enough...they would circle back over me...which one did.
But I wasn't happy with my shots. I think I need a second Canon 7D with my old trusty Canon 100-400mm on it for those quick flybys. I just don't have enough hands to hold them all. But I did get some shots of the pair flying back over to land on the pool again. They landed on the back side of the pool...of course...where I knew their young would be. They hooted and swam behind the large island...eventually coming out on the north side. After one last wail...the two chicks came swimming out from behind the island where the ospreys are nesting. Yeah!!! All five of 'my' baby loons are still with us.
Finally the clouds started moving in around 9:30am...so I worked my way through the rest of the Refuge fairly quickly. But I did get a quick shot of an elusive pied billed grebe before I left. I love these little guys...they submerge like a submarine. Hope to see some babies out and about. They tend to keep them way back in the thick marshes till they get older.
Well, I did make it back through in the evening but the clouds grew heavy. I was able to get a few fun shots of ABJ’s two month old chick….the J Pool loons…the G Pool loons and an American bittern. A female northern harrier flew over but got scared off by a noisy truck. I had a great blue heron in my sights but some noisy wood ducks warned of my approach. Oh well, it was an awesome day regardless.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge July 26, 2015
It’s a gorgeous early morning on the Refuge. I love being the only person here. ABJ and his family were out in their usual spot...feeding their growing chick. I is now in the 'ugly duckling' stage...1/2 down and 1/2 adult plumage.
The water is so smooth and the sunrise so beautiful as everything is waking up to a new day. A trumpeter swan is preening alongside a pair of male wood ducks in eclipse on # Pool enjoying great camaraderie. The kingfishers are everywhere chattering...except for sitting still long enough for a photo.
F Pool trumpeter swan pairs have their three and five cygnets....which is amazing for this time of year. Hopefully they will raise them adulthood. The correlation of no eaglets hatched and the amount of cygnets surviving is proof that the eagles are one of the main predators for the swans.
The Canada geese, Caspian and common terns are sharing the island on H Pool....along with a juvenile hooded merganser. I was so happy to find the H Pool sandhill cranes out feeding with their growing colt. No sign of the J Pool loons. I may have to take a walk to locate them.
As I continued on my way a pair of sandhill cranes was feeding near the bridge. They weren't happy about being interrupted. They flew into the marsh squawking about the rude person.
As I dorve along the west end of the Fishing Loop I stopped to take a few photos of the unique artwork of the spiders and their webs. Nature's art is beyond anything man can conceive. With the dew clinging to the webs and the sunlight shining on them...the sight is priceless.
I found a lone loon on G Pool. It was patrolling very intently. Suddenly it took off...walking on water. It came back and landed n the same area. Then it took off again...landing further down on the south end of the pool. I was able to get some hots of it. I think it was daddy loon protecting the area. Hopefully that means the chick is fine.
There were quite a few wood ducks throughout the Refuge. The males are in eclipse right now...molted their beautiful breeding plumage. But they will start re-growing their beautiful plumage again soon. They actually breed spring and fall when they go to their wintering grounds.
There were more kingfishers out and about waking everything up.
As I crossed the E/D spillway I spotted a loon flying at me....then a second one. They circled and flew back toward E. As I was looking for the D Pool loons...they flew and landed on the back side of D Pool. I could see from my photos that it was the D Pool loons via their leg bands.
As I watched they quickly swam toward the spillway at the back of the pool. So, off I head to check it out. YEAH!!! Both chicks were there and doing well. Mom and dad were busy feeding them. I watched for a while then left them to continue their day.
I was happy to spot a GBH on C Pool along with some more wood ducks. I was also happy to see a pied billed grebe on C Pool. The C Pool loons were at the far end of the pool napping. My single loon was hanging out in the middle of Gray’s Creek Pool...still waiting for a mate.
After getting Michael we headed back into the Refuge before the heat gets unbearable. ABJ and his mate are still feeding his chick. I got to spend quality time with the J Pool loons after locating them down along the gated drive. It was wonderful to sit and just have them to myself. The J Pool trumpeter swan male was driving all the Canada geese off the pool…chasing them right by me. Then a juvenile spotted sandpiper came right up next to me before it realized I was there.
The common terns were busy fishing in front of me, too. One would sit on a stump in the middle of the pool and scream at the other one to feed it….and it wasn’t even a chick. This went on for quite a while…fun to watch.
Then we found a lone loon quietly hanging out in the middle of C Pool. It was quite close to the shore and allowed me to get quite close. We think it was hiding out from the territorial pair that were further down the pool.
I was just telling Michael that it would be nice to see an American bittern…when I spotted one across from the end of C Pool. It didn’t even notice me…but went about its hunting.
Well, the heat became too intense so we took a break till it cooled off a little in the evening.
We came back around 6:00 in the evening. ABJ was still out with his family…wood ducks and trumpeter swans were scattered around. There was no sign of the Virginia rail.
The wind picked up and the clouds moved in…so we didn’t get to spend too much time with my loon families. But as we were headed down C Pool…the sun dropped down from behind the clouds. I was just saying how it would be nice to have something to photograph in the beautiful lighting and calm waters. And there it was…the single loon…still hanging out….in the perfect lighting. I went down and sat in the brush and muck to get some amazing shots of it. What a perfect way to end the day.
Last but not least…the American bittern was still hunting across from the end of C Pool…and my lonely loon was calling on Gray’s Creek Pool.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge July 12, 2015
I woke early so I could be one of the first people on the Refuge. The sun was trying to break through from behind a cloud back at 7:15am…as I started the drive.
I was greeted by a female belted kingfisher that was having a morning discussion with her young on F Pool. As I turned on the Fishing Loop a lone sandhill crane greeted me along with ABJ and his family and the trumpeter swan family. I took a lovely…quiet morning stroll with them all. As I was photographing the loons a male red-winged blackbird was feeding its very demanding young….young northern flickers were everywhere along with many other fledglings. It was wonderful to have the Refuge to myself…if only for just a short time. It was the perfect way to start the day…solitude with my wildlife.
I moved on to check on J Pool loons to verify that they actually did have a chick last night when we were here. The female appeared to have one nestled under her wings. She didn’t dive or move far from her position. The male bolted out of the water…scaring a poor momma ring-necked duck and her chicks…protecting its territory.
Before I got to J Pool I spotted the ospreys tending the nest…Caspian terns on the island on H Pool….and some blue-winged teal young in H Pool.
Yes, I was correct, J Pool does have a least one chick riding on one of the loons back. Of course it is out too far for any photo ops…but it is wonderful to know they were successful.
So on to G Pool….the loons and chick are out behind their nesting island….keeping away from the paparazzi. I did hear the Virginia rails talking. I’m hoping they have chicks soon.
So as I moved on to D Pool to look for the loons and their two chicks, the osprey on D Pool is feeding its two very large chicks. I scanned the pool for the loon family. They were clear on the other side of the pool. What to do?? I knew they would most likely stay on that side away from the traffic. So I parked and hiked. I was able to access a spit of land a decent distance from them. The sun was still obscured by the clouds. I also had a family of belted kingfishers swooping all around me.
It was a magical morning as the loons came close to me. The parents fed the babies. One baby go on its momma’s back. Then a lone loon flew over calling. Daddy went into the yodel…momma dived displacing the baby from her back. She too joined in the call. Eventually daddy stayed with the chicks and momma took a break. At one time both of the babies got on their daddy’s back. The chicks would pull feathers from poor daddy’s back. While they were in the water they would pull his leg and feathers. He finally dived to find them something to for them to eat. Momma came back with food, too. Then the lone loon quietly flew back over them. The still weren’t very happy with its presence.
I finally decided to leave them and get back to the trailer to get Michael. The heat was building so was the traffic. I was glad I decided to come early. My lone loon was at the end of the drive on Gray’s Creek Pool…all alone…once again.
Michael and I returned fa a quick run through. A great blue heron greeted us on F Pool. It’s so nice to finally see one or two of them. There used to be a dozen or more at a time here. We were also happy to see the sandhill cranes with their very large colt feeding in H marsh.
We stopped at J Pool to check on the Common tern…we don’t think they were successful with their nest. Also the loons were out with their one chick. They were not very happy. A bald eagle flew over and landed on a spit of land…bathing. It was fun to watch as it splished splashed for over twenty minutes.
G Pool loons were still out too far…no sign of D Pool loons…no sign of C Pool loons either. C Pool loons.
Then were unsuccessful nesting…so they could be the ones that are flying around the Refuge. We did spot a single pied billed grebe clear out in C along the marshy area…along with a northern harrier that was hunting.
We took a break from the heat…but returned around 5:30pm to make one last run through. We won’t be back for two weeks…so I wanted to see my loons one last time.
It was the perfect ending of a perfect day! I was so blest to be able to spend up close and personal time with J Pool loons and their adorable chick. How amazing…I stayed ahead of the lighting as they worked their way along the shore…eventually.
I got closer to shore and so did they! I spent time talking with the momma about her negligent mate.
Then my absentee C Pool loons were chillaxing near the shore in the evening light. Perfect!!!
Seney National Wildlife Refuge July 5, 2015
We woke up early to get to the Refuge to check on the loons to see if we had any new chicks. We found the F Pool loons out with their one remaining…growing chick. The trumpeter swans on F Pool still had five cygnets…the other pair has their three.
J Pool loons are still nesting. We were excited to see one pair of common terns on a nest, too.
We found G Pool loons with one adorable chick. Steve, a photographer from Wisconsin…that I had meet a few weeks ago when ABJ had his chicks, said that the G Pool loons hatched their single chick on Friday.He had come back this particular weekend because I had told him this should be the weekend for at least one of the loon nests to hatch. Luckily I was right.
As we were watching the loon with the chick on its back…out in the middle of the pool…I said I think if we waited they should eventually come up near the shore to feed. Dang…I was right again. It wasn’t too long before they made their way near the shore…feeding the little one as they went.
While we were watching the loons an osprey flew over…then two ospreys having a ‘discussion’. I heard Virginia rails grunting and chattering in the marsh across from G Pool, too.
An eagle flew over causing the loons to go on high alert…keeping their chick between them. We finally left them to continue their feeding.
As we got to D Pool the one loon was off the nest…but still near the nest. The other loon was not to be seen. As we study the actions of the loon we realize she had a chick on her back. She dived…sending the chick off into the water. Eventually she ‘walked’ back up to the nest to sit on the remaining egg…but she left the newly hatched chick alone in the water!!! Luckily the little one…eventually found its way up to the nest…poor thing. We left them together…hoping to find another chick later in the day.
We sadly found C Pool loons together away from their nesting area. It doesn’t look like we will have any babies on C Pool. We also found a white-tailed doe…with a fawn hiding nearby…but no photo ops.
We made another round. G Pool loons were separated….the one had the chick on its back…the other was bathing. It was so fun to watch it. It flipped upside down…one wing up….moving like a motorboat…drying its wings…zipping its feathers. It did this for over a half an hour. Finally the responsible parent came over and they started working their way toward the shore…and me. Unfortunately just before they got to me several people got out of their vehicle and surrounded me…causing the loons to get nervous and move back out.
So we stopped to check on the D Pool loons…they were out with their one chick…but still no sign of another. We found out later that they did hatch their second chick late in the day. Yeah!
We found an American bittern near the end of the drive. It was oblivious to my presence…so I got a few nice shots before it got lost in the tall grasses. We also spotted a great blue heron on B Pool.
On our last run through we got to spend a few minutes with ABJ…his mate…and his growing chick. The trumpeter swans with their five cygnets were also out feeding in the evening light.
I got to see my Virginia rail briefly…hoping to find chicks soon. J Pool loon was out hanging out near the shore…while its mate is somewhere on their nest.
We got to watch a red-winged blackbird harass an osprey who was trying to fish to feed its young.
There is never enough to spend here…tomorrow is our day with the black bear cubs…but we will be back.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge June 14, 2015
I woke to a foggy soggy morning...but still...decided I needed to go check on ABJ and his family of common loons. So off to the Refuge...without Michael. I arrived just before 8:00a.m.
It was perfect timing. As I turned on to the Marshland Drive I saw another photographer was already there...with ABJ and his family near the shore of F Pool. I quickly parked and walked out to a point where I was hoping the loons would soon work their way toward.
The bugs were horrendous...the tall grasses and trees dripping with mositure...but the loons were there and that was all that mattered. It could not have better timed...I crouched down and had a very short wait till ABJ himself came right toward me with his two little chicks. Momma was busy fishing. To make it even more perfect...the chicks decided it was time to crawl on daddy's back...well, at least one of them did. PERFECT!!! The fog and low lighting made for harder shooting but the effect was very fitting for these mystical creatures. I thanked them and decided to leave them in peace...going away with a full and happy heart.
As I was shooting the loons....Wilson's snipes were calling and flying overhead. The Refuge and its inhabitants were slowly waking up on this 'soft' morning.
I stopped several times to photogarph snapping turtles that were out early laying eggs in the sand along the drive.
As I arrived at H Pool...and adult sandhill crane was just flying from the shore...toward an island. Well, on that island was its mate and colt! I was so happy to see them this morning. I knew that it would just be a matter of time before they would leave the island and enter the water. So I found my spot along the shore to hunker down and wait.
Before long they adults decided it was time to leave...walking out into the water followed by their month old colt. The adults could walk most of the way across to the next island but the colt definitely had to swim.
I remember the first time I ever saw a sandhill swim...with their little colt...right here on the Refuge about ten years ago. It was quite a sight to see. Sandhill crane adults don't have to swim...they can fly from island to island. But when they have colts...swimming is the only way to cross.
When I figured out the direction they were heading, I made my way back...keeping low and out of sight. I didn't want to panick them or cause them duress. I was able to stay far enough out of sight...but close enough to shoot them as they went from island to island and finally to the mainland.
It was an awesome experience...what a privilege to witness the everyday life and struggles of these unique creatures. After they reached the mainland I decided it was to let them be...and headed on my way...soaking...sopping wet up to my thighs...but happy as a lark.
I also had fun along the way with a kingfisher, Caspian and common terns, Eastern kingbirds, Wilson's snipes, loons calling on E Pool and brown thrashers/. It was truly a great morning on the Refuge. Who needs 'perfect' weather....and weather is great when you can spend it with nature.
The Canada geese have goslings from half grown to teeny tiny...all around the Refuge. G Pool has become the hangout for the non breeding adult trumpeter swans. It is also where we are sure the loons have a nest...because we are seeing just one out between a couple of islands. Time will tell if they are successful or not.
I hear Virginia rails in E marsh across from G Pool. Also spot a lone loon who looks like it might be an intruder...head up and acting very much on alert...while the trumpeters swans with their three cygnets are feeding nearby while an eagle sits in its favorite tree on the west end of E Pool.
The D Pool loon is quietly guarding its nest...the ospreys may have young now...sitting on the edge of the nest instead of in it.
C Pool also has a large gathering of non breeding trumpeter swans...getting a little rowdy with each other...while the C Pool loon is still tending its nest.
I did spot the B Pool trumpeter swans...look to have four or five cygnets. I have to stop and have a 'talk' with a snapping turtle that doesn't want to move out of the drive. It wasn't even laying eggs. It just glared at me...I of course had to take a few photos...with the 600mm end of the lens. One thing you do not want to do is tangle with a snapper. They will latch on and not let go.
I hurried out of the Refuge around 11:00a.m. to go back to get Michael. Then back we came in time to catch ABJ and his family on the curve of the Fishing Loop tending the chicks. I settled down in the brush and waited. I know I gush...but I still believe he knows me and eventually came fairly close to where I was. He just stayed with the chicks while mom went fishing. She would bring back fish and fed the young. Evenutally the sun even came out. It was fun to watch the rivalry between the two chicks. Each wanting its turn on daddy's back...not willing to give an inch while the other tumbled back into the water. Yep...nature does mimick human relationships.
While we were watching the loons a mate to a nesting trumpeter swan ran off an intruder...right over me.
H Pool was busy with Wilson's snipes, Caspian terns, common terns, blue-winged teals...and momma mallard with ducklings. We did hear our Virginia rails but no sighting. They are busy nesting, guarding and feeding their mates right now. Can't wait for chicks.
We spot a Northern harrier floating over G marsh. We are sure they must have a nest in this area, too.
The E Pool west end trumpeter swans were out in the cattails with their three cygnets. I heard a pair of Virginia rails having a converstaion in the same area. We also spotted a pair of sandhill cranes hiding out...probably with a colt or two...time will tell.
The trumepter swan 'singles club' was taking a snooze under the pine trees along the drive while a lone loon patroled between the islands. We are sure there is a nesting loon on one of those islands...just can't see it.
I spot D Pool trumpeter swans on the backside of the pool with their four cygnets.
Yeah we were excited to find the pair of sandhill cranes in C marsh do have two colts. They are getting quite big. The crazy ospreys are still acting like they would like to nest. The female was on the nest in B marsh...calling for her wayward mate....who was fishing on C Pool.
The loon is on the nest and the mate on the far end of C Pool. B Pool trumpeter swans have five cygnets...but too far out for photos.
We were happy to find a pair of sandhill cranes in an open space at the end of the drive...where we always hope a moose will be standing. They were very quiet so probably had at least one colt.
We stopped at the South Show Pool for a snack. I heard a ruckus...a crow was screaming at a bald eagle who was sitting very low on a branch in a big white pine....not their usual hunting technique. Looking to have cygnets for a snack??? I hope not. But thanks to the crow that didn't happen...this time.
We made one finally run through before we had to head home. We won't be back for two long weeks.
Finally...we find an American bittern hunting in the little marsh as we started the Marshland Drive. It posed nicely for me...then I left it to continue its hunting.
There were at least sixty Canada geese hanging out around the old loon nest on F Pool. I guess this is their 'singles club'.
We were excited to find yet another pair of sandhill cranes in F marsh...with a possible colt. It looks like it was a good year for the sandhill young...so far.
Lone loon on J and one of G Pool...sure signs of nesting going on those two pools, too. Once again...time will tell. Then I got to visit with my lone loon on Gray's Marsh Pool before heading out of the Refuge...till next time.
Seney National Wildlife Journal June 9, 2015
What a gorgeous morning...up early and ready to go check on our F Pool loons. Perfect timing....one chick was in the water by the parent...the other parent on the nest. By the time we got around to our observation point both chicks were visible on the nest with daddy ABJ.
We spent four hours observing as momma brought them in tiny fish to eat. Although at one time she brought a good sized fish...I'm sure she knew what she was doing...she 'had' to eat. It was so sweet to see the little one snuggle up close to daddy as he patiently tended his young. Finally he decided it was time for them to enter the water. He slid off the nest and they both followed him...out to where their momma was. Daddy immediately went into a yodel...warning all that could hear...this was his territory with his babies...all intruders beware. We thought we would let them on his back...but I think he wanted his mate to take over their care...but she went off to preen. The little ones are like corks...they won't sink...but they can float away or be taken from beneath. That's why they usually ride on their parents back till they are older and more solid.
Finally after waiting and waiting...he let them get on his back. What a special moment to witness and share with our other avid Refuge addicts, Jean and Kenneth Rautiola.
A cormorant flew over and both parents went into their warning calls. Momma did finally come back with a small fish. Then the chicks finally huddled down under daddy's wings and everyone took a nap. It's hard bringing life into this harsh world...even harder to keep them safe from harm as they continue to grow.
So we finally left the little family to see what else was happening on the Refuge. Ring-necked ducks, ospreys and Canada geese. The Virginia rail was in F marsh but just an occasional grunt defending his territory. We think he has finally found a mate and is standing guard over the nesting area. The snipes are still everywhere. We did see several American bittern flying around the Refuge, too.
We think G Pool loons have a nest on the south end big island. We have been seeing a single loon in that area serval times.
The eagle is still in its favorite tree on the west end of E Pool. The ospreys and loons are still nesting on D Pool.
A lone sandhill crane was in the drive in front of our friends the Rautiolas. It finally flew off over C Pool. B Pool has a single loon...so hopefully they are nesting too. A pair of sandhills with a colt was near the end of the drive.
We hated to leave on such a beautiful day but we will be back Saturday night.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal June 8, 2015
After a morning of rain...it finally cleared off enough to head to the Refuge around 11:00am. We spot a single loon quietly flying over the Visitors Center as we enter.
Then we spot the F Pool loons...one on the nest...the other in the water. The single loons flies over causing them to call a warning...and the one on the nest slid off into the water...revealing one tiny little chick!!! Yeah we have a baby hatched on our 41st wedding anniversay. What a special way to celebrate.
I position myself at my observation point to watch. The momma comes back to the nest...turns the remaining egg...and sits down on baby and the egg to continue incubation. Perfect timing!!! Now we will have to check back to see when or if the second egg hatches.
A pair of Canada geese was corralling NINE goslings...of different sizes. Now we know they didn't have all of those goslings. They like to 'steal' or 'adopt' others young.
H Pool still has six or more Caspian terns residing on the small island. Four male blue-winged teals flew in along the shore of H Pool then took off.
The Wilson's snipes were calling everywhere....calling and landing in F marsh.
Our sandhill cranes with their one colt were out closer to the drive on H Pool. We also saw a female northern harrier take off out of H marsh. Hoping there is a nest there. They are ground nesters...so just maybe.
The trumpeter swans are still on their nest in J Pool. We do have two pair of trumpeters with cygnets on the Refuge. There should be more by next weekend.
The J Pool loons are still searcing for a nesting site.
A third year eagle flew out of E marsh between E and G Pool.
Yeah!!! D Pool loons are finally on a nest!!! We had fun with a pair of hermit thrushes along the drive near C Pool...watching them catch bugs for their young.
We also found a doe in C marsh...hanging out with the trumpeter swans. She circled the area...so possibly she has a fawn.
The ospreys are playing house again in B marsh. They can't decide if they like this nest or the one on Gray's Marsh Pool at the end of C Pool. This is their third or fourth year of 'attempting' to nest....maybe next year.
Yeah!!! We found C Pool loon on a nest!!! Finally! Hope to have more chicks hatching around the first of July.
The male kingfisher was out squawking around their nesting area on B Pool. The sun is finally trying to break out around 2:30.
I spend some time with a lone loon hiding out in the cove at the end of C Pool. As we head out of the Refuge a Great blue heron lands on the South Show Pool...where we find the trumpeter swan family with thier five adorable cygnets.
We finally return to the Refuge around 7:30pm...66 degrees and sun. The snipes are calling and flying everywhere. The loon is still on the nest protecting its one chick and egg. Hopefully tomorrow morning we will have two chicks.
Ring-necked ducks, Canada geese and ospreys are all busy raising young or nesting or tending to their mates.
We spot a lone loon on the east end of E Pool...so hopefully they are nesting there, too. The Blue-winged teals are still on H Pool. The snipes are active in F marsh.
The G Pool loons are together...but they could just be taking a break from nesting...hopefully.
D and C Pool loons are still on their nests....a doe is out in B marsh...as we leave the Refuge around 9:00pm.
Seney National Wildlife Journal June 7, 2015
After a very dismal wet day we finally head into the Refuge around 7:00pm. The snapping turtles seem to enjoy the moisture...making it easier for them to lay their eggs. Unfortunately most of those eggs will never make it due to predation.
F Pool loons still are on their nest. A pair of blue-winged teals flew in right in front of us to land along the shoreline of F Pool. The Canada geese with all of their goslings are everywhere.
Blue-winged teals are on H Pool...with a lot of activity in F marsh. Red-winged blackbirds are busy protecting their territories from grackles and other maruading birds.
We were happy to find a pair of sand hill cranes at the end of H Pool with one fairly large colt. The H Pool loons seem to have taken over J Pool...looking for a nesting site...hopefully.
The common terns appear to be finally nesting on their little island colony. They nest in colonies for protection purposes...hoping at least one of them have a surviving nest.
The loons let out a warning call as an eagle soars over J Pool...alerting everything else to its presence.
We found a single loon on G Pool near the south end...so hopefully they are finally nesting. The eagle is on the west of E Pool in its favorite dead tree.
We spot D Pool loons 'looking' over the long island. Hopefully they will finally nest, too. They, too, went into the warning call whn a bald eagle flew over being chased by the D Pool osprey...who has a mate on a nest.
Yeah...we find a pair of sandhill cranes in C marsh with at least one colt....surrounded by trumpeter swans....good alarm system.
There are 24 trumpeter swans hanging out on the west end of C Pool. There is a pair of sandhill cranes in B marsh...grass too tall to see if they have colts.
There are two loons in Gray's Marsh Pool at the end of C Pool. All in all it was a very good evening on the Refuge.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal June 1, 2015 I woke early to a gorgeous day. So off the to the Refuge I headed...for a little 'me' time with my wildlife. I entered the Refuge at 8:30 to blue skies...46 degrees...and water like glass. Perfect! F Pool loon on its nest...ospreys flying all around...fishing for their spouses who are nest setting. The F Pool osprey was being chased by a gull who wanted the fish it had caught. But the osprey ended up back in the nest with its mate...fish intact. The little Easter Kingbirds are busy already....a kingfisher is quietly fishing on F Pool...and Wilson snipes are flying and winnowing everywhere. I stop to look for the H Pool loons...to no avail. The Caspian terns are quiet this morning...sleeping. But I am totally entertained by the Wilson's snipes!! They are everywhere....flying together....flying alone...along the shoreline calling. I just sit and watch and listen. It's not long and I have one land within twenty feet of me!!! Awesome! I finally move down the drive to J Pool where I spot a pair of loons. H Pool loons??? I couldn't get a look at their bands to tell. But I enjoyed more Wilson's snipes along the drive back to I Pool. The common terns were becoming active. I finally had one of E Pool eagles sitting in a tree along J Pool fishing. I was able to get some decent shots of her before she flew off. As I headed around toward G Pool I heard sandhills carrying on. I saw a pair jumping in the air...calling their distressed call. I sadly think a predator was after their little ones. As I neared G Pool another little snipe flew right in front of me...along with a couple of Northern flickers. A female ring-necked duck was hanging close to the shore...probably guarding a nest. On D Pool a family of Canad Geese and their seven goslings were entertaining to watch as an osprey was 'bathing'. The osprey would dive...act like it was trying to get a big fish out of the water...but come up empty. It did this several times...then I realized it was actually bathing. It finally flew up into a dead tree and preened. Amazing how last week the B marsh osprey nest was trying to be occupied by two pair of ospreys...but this week not a sign of anything near the nest. I headed back around 11:00 to get Michael. We returned by noon and enjoyed the gorgeous day together. One of the bald eagles was fishing over F Pool. More of the Canada geese and goslings were trying to be scarce. The F Pool loon was on the nest...and the mate was approaching the area. We stopped along H Pool and enjoyed the dueling Virginia rails. We weren't sure if it was two males or a male and female...but fun to watch and listen to. The loons were right near the shore on G Pool so I was able to confirm that they were the H Pool pair. They were enjoying the fishing...maybe contemplating changing pools to nest?? Time will tell...I just hope they decide to nest...before its too late. The day is picture perfect...always hard to go home when its like this. Before we leave we spot the C Pool loons and the B Pool loons still together...still not on nests.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal May 30 and 31, 2015 We were able to make a quick run through the Refuge around 8:30 on Saturday night. It's always nice to have the longer days to make a recon through. ABJ is still on the nest...or his mate. We had a gorgeous sunset...and G Pool loons building a nest. Sunday we didn't get back to the Refuge till 5:00pm. The sun was shining with a brisk breeze blowing and 60 degrees. ABJ still nesting contently...lots of Canada geese out with their many goslings. There was no sign of our H Pool loons...but the Caspian terns are still occupying the spit of land. The Eastern kingbirds are busy catching dragons. The Virginia rail has a new friend...or foe. So there was more activity going on in the marsh. Hopefully it is a female and they will settle down and have chicks there. The red-winged blackbirds and grackles are also in the marsh...fighting and keeping their nests saves from mauraders. The common terns were acting like maybe some will be nesting soon on their island in J Pool. There was sadly no sign of G Pool...nor did it look like they did any more work on the nest site. The C Pool loons surprised us with their presence near the shore in the setting sun. Lovely to see them up close...but wish they were nesting. ABJ will have chicks before they even build their nest. I decided to take an evening walk back along the small pool where I spotted a loon. I was entertain by a big beaver. He slapped his tail sevearl times...then finally stuck hsi nose up showing me his carrot colored teeth. A pair of ospreys were screaming and circling the nest. I'm not sure but this could be the B marsh ospreys. After their battle last week to defend the B marsh nest...they haven't been seen occupying it. I 'talked' to my loon...and he followed me all the way back to the truck...enjoying the cammardarie and soft evening glow. It was a great way to end the day.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal May 26, 2015 We woke to a heavy fog...that finally started to lift around 10:00am as we entered the Refuge. The temperature was 58...and damp. F Pool loon is diligently sitting on its nest...as the Canada geese and their goslings are feeding along the drive. The kingbirds are busy feeding young. There's lots to eat out there...mosquitoes and dragonflies are a mainstay of their diet. The red-winged blackbirds are also very noisy this moring...defending their territories. One of the E Pool eagles is sitting in the tall tree near their nest...that is empty. No babies again this year. We have a kingfisher playing games with us along F Pool. H Pool...our two loons are still out together. I walk back to check on them. They seem to be checking out a few islands for possible nesting sites...hopefully. The Caspain terns are also still on their spit of land...along with a rare visitor...a Red Knot...shorebird...that breeds in the arctic tundra. As I walk back to check on the loons...I am engulfed with dragons!!! The dragonflies are hatching...and they are everywhere. It's truly a wonderful experience to walk in their midst. Thankfullly they love mosquitoes...which there has been a plethora of lately. Our poor male Virginia Rail is still calling for a female. I would think he would be hoarse by now. He's been here almost two weeks...and no response yet. Typically males come back to guard their territories before the females head back. So hopefully this next week...he will have found love. The clouds broke open for a little while then quickly moved back in. Looks like rain is definitely on the way. The common terns are on the J Pool island screaming up a storm...getting ready to nest...hopefully. We spot our sandhill cranes family out in G marsh...but too far out for any photos. The G Pool loons are really looking over several of the small islands looking for the perfect nesting spot. Hopefully they, too will be nesting by next week. The territorial trumpeter swan is guarding his territory has he eats along the shoreline of G Pool. We also hear our merlins screaming...and spook up two spotted sandpipers. We spot two sandhill cranes in C Pool...but no babies. the osprey is on its nest on D Pool and the two loons are still out together. As we near the B marsh osprey nest...we witness a territorial dispute. Two ospreys are in the nest...and then a third drops in...then a fourth one flies over. The battle ensues. It goes on for quite some time. The two females seem to be the main aggressors. Finally two of them are victorious. They leave the nest...but come back shortly with nesting material. Not longer after that they copulate...and so it begins. Nesting materials for the softer lining for the eggs to nestle in. It was awesome to be able to experience these moments up close and personal. And no matter what the weather...life continues...and there are always amazing things to witness. While we are watching the ospreys...two sandhills approached us in B marsh. As they got closer we saw that they do not have young, either. The one is banded though. We leave the Refuge at 1:30 to a hazy mist falling.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal May 25, 2015
We woke to a day of rain and gloom…so we took a drive to Munising. Finally around 7:30pm the rain quit and we decided to take a quick evening drive on the Refuge.
The F Pool loon was on the nest…keeping vigilant despite the bugs and inclement weather. Ring-necked ducks and several pair of Canada geese with goslings were out feeding on F Pool.
An osprey was fishing over E Pool where one of the eagles was sitting in the tall pine tree. Beaver are feeding all over the Refuge along with the little muskrats. A loon flies into and lands on E Pool.
We were swarmed by a dozen or more tree swallows out enjoying the smorgasbord of bugs. There were young ones with their parents…calling to be fed. Also Eastern kingbirds were busy flitting about.
Both ospreys were in the nest on F Pool. Lots of common terns were screaming and fishing along E and F Pool. We heard our Virginia rail was still calling for a female. Hope we’ll see him again tomorrow. A male blue-winged teal was feeding in F marsh…and another was feeding along the edge of H Pool. We hear a snipe calling in F marsh near J Pool.
G Pool loons were still out spending time together while the trumpeter swans were feeding and nesting. Yeah, we hear merlins screaming…hopefully a nest is nearby. We can see the E Pool eagle fishing along the west end of E Pool.
We spot several male wood ducks out in C Pool. The B marsh osprey female is in the nest screaming for her mate. Hopefully he will co-operate and they will finally have a successful nest.
Yeah…finally I spot a great blue heron on the feeding tree on C Pool. It takes off and flies into the marsh…but it is way too dark to get any pictures. Hopefully it will be around tomorrow. The fog has moved in swallowing the little bit of sun that was shining. We hear our little white throated sparrow as we are ready to leave around 9:30pm.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge May 24, 2015
We head into the Refuge around 2:00pm with overcast skies but very mild temperatures around 77 degrees. ABJ or his mate is on their nest on F Pool. Poor thing is covered with blackflies and mosquitoes. Common terns are fighting with a gull over F Pool, too.
The E Pool eagles are sitting side by side in one of the tall pines on E Pool. They seem to be enjoying their time together without young…for the second year in a row. It’s sad not to have eaglets again…but who knows just what the reason is.
H Pool loons are still hanging out together. There are a few Caspian and common terns hanging out on a small spit of land. The nesting trumpeter swan male is keeping everything on high alert. A lone sandhill is hanging out at the west end…maybe a mate on a nest??
We are so excited to find a Virginia rail in F marsh. Last week we heard one…but never found it. This week we hit it just right. He was calling and calling for a mate…even carried a spider around as a gift…if he found one. It was awesome to experience this ritual…too bad there wasn’t a female here to respond to him.
As we left him…we found the trumpeter swan still on her nest on J Pool. Four or five common terns were swooping and flying…landing on the ‘tern’ island where they usually nest.
There are lots of dragonflies out…thank goodness…since they eat mosquitoes…which are out in full force. We spot a male northern harrier flying over J marsh. Then we were so excited to find a pair of sandhill cranes in J marsh…with two colts!!! The colts look to be just over a week old. Hope the little guys survive the perils of the wilderness that awaits them.
Then we spot not one…but two northern harriers soaring over G marsh!! It is a male and female…swooping and courting in the sky.
G Pool loons are still out together…no nesting yet. The trumpeter swan is still on its nest. The male flew in to challenge a pair of Canada geese. There is also a female harrier hunting over the island on G Pool.
While we were watching the loons on G Pool an eagle flew over to E Pool where a common tern was intently fishing. The osprey is in the nest on D Pool…but no one in the nest in B marsh. As we cross the C/B spillway we spot our two belted kingfishers…and a female merlin. The winds were picking up and the dark clouds moving in as we left the Refuge at 7:00pm.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal May 18, 2015
10:00am on this lovely day…a slight breeze to keep the bugs at bay…as we enter the Refuge. The F Pool loons are on their nest. There are several trumpeters swans on nests throughout the Refuge, too. A few Canada geese have their goslings.
H Pool male loon was hanging out along the shore….so I spent some time with him. While I was photographing him…I spotted our lone American coot hiding in the brush in F marsh…and two pairs of blue-winged teals feeding in the area, too.
Then all of sudden…quietly…in flew the female loon. I was able to catching her landing…belly down near her mate. I was able to spend almost an hour with them as they feed along the shore. The male was just floating along while his mate fished.
We also heard a Virginia rail in the F marsh, too, where the red-winged blackbirds are nesting and fighting. Then the gray ghost…Northern harrier…flew over the area being chased by the RWB.
There were about twenty Caspian terns, a couple of Common terns, several Wilson snipes and some other small shorebirds on a small spit of land in the middle of H Pool.
Two eagles and an osprey flew over H Pool while I was photographing the loons. I knew when the eagles were flying over…because all the terns and shorebirds flew. They landed back down and went about their business after the eagles left.
The common terns were on an island on J Pool along with Canada geese…possibly a nesting area for them.
A couple of ravens were screaming over J marsh when we spotted the reason…male northern harrier was flying over hunting…as three trumpeter swans flew in.
The D Pool osprey was in the nest…as its mate brought in a fish. The two loons were feeding along the shore. Looks like F Pool loons are the only ones on the nest as of now. Hopefully we will have more on nests next week.
C Pool has several ring-necked ducks. The B marsh osprey were both in the nest…time will tell if they actually nest this year. They both were on alert as an eagle flew over.
Two kingfishers were chasing each other in circles around an area where we know they have nested before…looks like the courtship is on. Then two bald eagles and an osprey were soaring high in the skies together…enjoying the strong winds that were blowing in.
We left the Refuge around 2:30pm…we hate to leave but the dark clouds were starting to work their way in…so time to head for home.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal May 17, 2015
We entered the Refuge at 8:30am to cloudy skies and 58 degrees…but it was so great to be back on ‘our’ Refuge.
The first thing we spotted was a common loon on a nest on F Pool. Yeah!! ABJ is back to start his 28th year of life….and continue his streak of being the first loon pair to nest. Hopefully, this means babies by mid-June.
The Wilson snipes are calling everywhere. The E Pool eagles are both in the tall pine trees. F Pool osprey is on the nest.
We spot a lone sandhill crane in E marsh…possible nesting site???
H Pool has two loons together along with ten to twelve Caspian terns on a spit of land. A little common tern flies into fight a Caspian tern.
There are a couple of blue winged teals in F marsh. I’m sure there a couple of females not far behind.
We find a single American coot in F marsh, too. We also hear a Virginia rail. Nice to know they are back already. The Wilson snipes are also being very vocal today. Love to hear them…and have them back already, too.
Common terns are on J Pool squawking at the Caspian terns that were hanging out there, too.
G Pool loons were out showing off along the shoreline for us. Too bad the lighting wasn’t a little better.
We stopped for over a half an hour or more to just sit and watch two Wilson snipes. They were speeding around…chasing each other…calling...so cool to experience. We actually think they were courting.
Michael’s keen eye spotted a beautiful male Scarlet Tanager between E and G Pool in a jack pine. I was able to get a few shots before it flew high into the canopy.
G Pool eagle flew off its perch on G pool and landed on a pine tree on the west end of E Pool.
Two loons are on D Pool…lots of ring-necked ducks are throughout the Refuge.
An osprey is in the old platform nest on D Pool….since their other nest finally fell that was in the dead pine tree.
An osprey flies over B marsh with a fish…flying back to its mate on D Pool.The osprey pair in B marsh is hanging out at their nest. This is their third attempt at nesting…their first two nests fell over.
Two loons are on the end of C Pool and a lone loon in the small pool. There is also an osprey sitting in the nest that they built at the end of the season on the small pool.
We were happy to see lots of red winged blackbirds in the marsh at the end of the drive. Last year there was nothing there. We left the Refuge at 11:30 to go put up our bear research blind…then the weather turned bad and we didn’t get back to the Refuge.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge Journal April 26 & 27, 2015
We spent two early mornings out with the sharp-tailed grouse for the annual STG count. We hiked in a mile each morning to the blind on Diversion Farm. We had to be there by sunrise to start our count. The weather was perfect…crisp…cold…but sunny.
The males were already dancing when we got there. They flew off…but quickly came back and started their dance again. Unfortunately the females seemed to already be gone…nesting or preparing to nest.
We did have a pair of sandhill cranes fly in and feed in the field behind us and a northern harrier fly over heading east.
At 9:00 a.m. the first morning…the males all quit dancing and flew off to feed in the trees. It was comical to see them fighting one moment…than buddying up to the ‘bar’ the next.
On the second day we had one aggressive male that would sit in a bush and call…then take off to fight whoever came his way. He did this several times.
Then we had the sandhill cranes come back in. This time the male decided to do a little courting of his own on the lek. How awesome to be able to be a silent observer to this ancient ritual.
All Photographs Copyrighted by Michael & Teresa McGill/McGills Nature in Motion-Unauthorized use prohibited