Friday, May 7, 2010

Saginaw Bay

I know, I said I'd write next about the Anderson Trail, but when I looked through the photos, well, there aren't many. The woods were really uninteresting. There had been a recent controlled burn in part of it, and the rest had been burned in the recent past. I don't know what the condition of these woods was before but there were very few plants or flowers growing anywhere. I was glad that we rode the trail rather than walked it because we got through it much faster. Four miles of nothing much to look at would have been a real drag.

So we will jump to the next morning. We walked down to the beach in the morning sun only to find a phragmities choked shoreline caked in dried algae and smelling vaguely noxious and the sky colored yellow from the industry down the coast. Come to find out that the mess on the beach was contaminated with E-coli and it was recommended that anyone with cuts or open sores not even go out there. Ugh.

Anyway, the birds can't read signs and this is where they live, so this is where we went. There were a few places that were still open to the water. Here a Canada goose pair and a blue-winged teal are nesting.

There were red-winged blackbirds galore, but I was looking for smaller birds, hoping for one or two new to me. I cannot honestly say whether or not I've ever seen this bird before, but I had certainly never identified a swamp sparrow before.

Not too far down the beach I spotted another sparrow. I could tell this one was different thanks to the stripes and spot on the chest. Pretty sure this is a song sparrow.

Another shot of a song sparrow chasing bugs on the ground.

Birding, I have found, is much like a treasure hunt. Once you become interested, and start taking note of who you've seen, the doors open up to a seemingly endless number of birds to be discovered. I think there are over 900 bird species in North America, so as a new birder (and probably one who's been doing it a while) every new place you visit is an opportunity to spot a new (to you) bird.

New birds are exciting, but spotting old favorites is fun too. There were several killdeer flying up and down the beach, calling de-deeee, de-deeeee. de-deeee. I was hoping for a nest sighting but the beach was too gross and squishy to walk on.

Here a blue-winged teal, a bird I first saw in Florida in March (but somehow never got around to blogging about) takes to the yellow air. Someone told me that Madonna got in some hot water for making some comment about Bay City, and how you knew you were there by the smell. "A stinky little town in Northern Michigan" is what she called it. Well, if the shoe fits....

I felt kind of bad for all the critters that have to live in this smelly, contaminated place. We were lucky--after this walk we went back to the RV, packed up and left. I know that late April can be a less attractive time of year than others, at least in this part of the world, but this was really a disappointment. However, we had Plan B in the wings--the Shiawasee National Wildlife Refuge was more or less on the way home, so we decided to stop there and hike, hoping for something a bit more interesting than what we found in Bay City.

Perhaps this fox was headed out of town too....

1 comment:

  1. Loved seeing the little sparrows. So cute, almost cuddly. But what an environmental mess! I remember Madonna's comment and how she was hooted. But I have friends from Michigan who say the Bay City area is an environmental disaster. I've never been, but everybody can't be wrong. Oh, Marie, enjoyed your newsletter. Hope your open house is huge success!