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Entries in wildlife (60)


Tawas with friends

We go camping with good friends every summer. Since we do this every summer, I know I've gone on about it before, explaining how this is one of my best friends from my elementary school years, who happened to have a baby only two days before I had mine, and how we found each other when said kids were not quite two, and have reforged a magnificent friendship since then that has spilled over to our husbands and children.

Since I know I've gone on and on before about that, I won't do it again here. Nor will I go on and on about how much fun the kids have, and how great it is to get away and experience the great outdoors and the wonders of campfire smoke in the eyes while trying to make s'mores, or popcorn, or dinner, or the fire itself.

I also won't make this yet another post about hiking and wildlife, since we all know how much I can go on and on about that, or birds, since everyone excepting me is probably birded out for the year. 

And since that leaves very little to talk about, here is a photo essay of our annual camping trip, spent this year in Tawas State Park.


[a very splendorous place unnamed]

We are just back from our (almost) annual summer trip to [a park that shall go unnamed]. Almost, because we were frightened off last year by the promise of grizzly weather, and unnamed because in the five years since we started camping there it has become so popular that it is now nearly impossible to book sites without babysitting the bookings on the freezing January midnights when they become available for reservation. We may actually have to try that this year.

It is because of this popularity that we found ourselves camping in what I consider to be the earlier—the iffier, the chillier—side of the summer. But, while we did spend a full 36 hours huddled against high winds whipping bitingly out of the north, the majority of our trip was sunny and completely enjoyable. There's a part of me that lives for sweaty summer days, but the low-seventies were perfectly pleasant with the sun, and the icy early-summer water didn't deter the boys from swimming. Not much, at least.

There was hiking—almost mosquito free thanks to a dry summer and chilly weather. There were ice cream afternoons in town, fried perch at our favorite hole-in-the-wall bar, and putt putt on our way out of town. There were fires, and s'mores, and whittling, and doing dishes with the good old camping 2-pan system. There was snuggling up together in the tent to read at night, the lantern swaying as we were buffeted by an insistent wind. There was sand construction, and rock hunting and skipping. There were pancakes on the camp stove, popcorn over the fire, and a nip of Scotch under the stars after lights went out in the tent. 

And on our very last morning, as we enjoyed a final coffee by the lake, Calvin playing with a new friend soon to be left behind, we saw an eagle tracing overlapping circles in the air, gracing our final moments with a natural splendor. 

Until next year, [very splendorous place that shall go unnamed].


Hiking highlights, early-mid April

The sunrise is creeping closer to our usual waking time, and for this I am thankful. These days, by the time I'm up and enjoying a cup of coffee light is streaming in through our slider doors, invigorating the spirit. On days when there's sun, that is. 

It's still early yet, but in anticipation our migrating friends, we've moved science to the out of doors again, watching buds slowly bloom out. We know from past observation about how long it takes for different travelling birds to arrive after the buds begin to show. Some are hardier than others, willing to face a frost for first dibs on baby greenery. Others stay snug in their winter homes until their meals, and their warmth, are more assured.

So far this year, most of what we've seen are our winter residents, those who will soon head north for cooler climes, and our most constant, year-round friends. But we're patient, and we're willing to keep heading out in search of our returning denizens, and the rarer sightings of those just passing through.

Black-capped Chickadee (year-round)

Northern Flicker (year-round)

Blue-gray Gnat-catcher (summer)

Eastern Towhee (summer)

American Coot (summer)

Golden-crowned Kinglet (winter)


Back at it

Calvin reminded me this morning that by this time last year we had already logged several weekly hikes to watch nature wake up. This year we're way behind. The mild winter made chickens out of us and we stayed inside too long. But with or without us they're all coming out of hiding, the snakes, the frogs, the little things that sprout under the leaves, so we decided that we should finally join them. And late as we were, we still caught some winter-only residents before their annual trip north, plus lots of regulars who came out to say hello again.


Hiking Tawas Point

If cool, wet weather isn't great for beach going or campfires, it does not ring the same death knell for hiking. In fact, it is much easier to be happy and protected from poison ivy, biting flies, and ticks when it is cold enough to warrant the donning of long clothing and multiple layers.

We hiked every day on our camping trip, although some of those hikes might more accurately be called brisk walks. We hiked between rains on our first night, in a brilliant morning sun on our first morning, and in a varying degree of cloud cover every other time.

Tawas Point State Park is a fairly small peninsula, and seemingly shrinking. The park is a little over a mile long, and about a quarter as wide, so even though the trail was not well maintained, and parts of it seemed to be gone altogether, getting lost was neither a problem nor an option. Still, the park is teeming with relatively tame wildlife. There were so many frogs—leopard frogs, to be exact—that walking near any shore caused the ground erupt in leaping. The deer prints were equally plentiful, but it took us until our final day to actually spy a handful of deer. It was also on our last night that we met our first skunk—a very cute baby that was checking out our neighbor's site. Birds were plentiful, of course, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that we'd caught the front end of the fall warbler migration.

leopard frog

leopard frog

common garter snake

common whitetail

greater egret

great blue heron

american toad

cooper's hawk

white-tailed deer

eastern chipmunk

black-throated green warbler (fall plumage)

yellow-rumped warbler (fall plumage)

cape may warbler (fall plumage)