Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tobico Marsh

The rail trail in Bay City extends north up to Tobico Marsh in the Bay City rec area. Our plan was to ride to the rail trail to the Andersen Nature Trail, hike that trail, then ride back to the campground. As we neared the marsh the rail trail crossed a bridge, and we spotted a muskrat swimming amongst the cattails and duck weed.

From the rail trail there is a paved connector that cuts across the marsh to the 4-mile Andersen Nature Trail loop. We stopped at an observation platform on the connector to, well, observe. It was a pleasant day but there wasn't a whole lot happening at the marsh.

See, our timing was off. This is a great birding area--most of the east coast of Michigan is a flyway for migrating species. But we'd missed the hawk migration by months. Waterfowl was probably several weeks before, and song birds had not yet started in earnest.

What we did see were lots of mute swans. We counted five nests on the small island in the marsh. While we were there, we noticed a bit of a conflict underway. Apparently this Canada goose had gotten a bit too close to a swan's territory, and a chase was underway. The goose's mate is there in the background, loudly honking.

The swan, with its huge black feet, was able to swim much faster than the goose, who very nearly got goosed.

The goose would take wing and fly, but only 30 feet or so before landing.

The swan would catch up rather quickly and the whole thing repeated itself, over and over around the lake. I don't know why the goose didn't just fly to the other end, unless it too had a nest nearby.

Before we headed into the woods I tried to get a few shots of the tree swallows, who were back from there winter homes in the south. It is a personal challenge of mine to get decent shots of birds in flight. A better lens would help, but this isn't too bad--cropped, of course.

I love to watch their aerial acrobatics. These two were either fighting or in amorous pursuit, it was hard to tell which.

Next: Andersen Nature Trail, Lori goes boom.

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