Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Of Turtles and Warblers

Pictured Rocks cont:

I finally dragged myself away from the Chestnut-sided warbler, who looked like he might sit in his cedar all day, singing. There was more to see, after all, and the girls were getting antsy.

The path crossed another boardwalk and Karin spotted this scat on the railing. Lori later identified it as from a five-lined skink, a small lizard that lives in Michigan. I am not certain after looking into it farther. It lacks the white tip that accompanies most bird and reptile scat. It is full of insect casings, which the skink eats, but I am just not sure. It's kind of pretty, nonetheless.

Mystery poo.

A beaver lodge sat perched across the far shore, but we did not see any beaver.

Beaver lodge.

We came to a bridge that crossed a creek and were startled by a rather large snapping turtle who came zipping through the water right towards us as we stood on the bridge. He was going so fast I couldn't get him in focus.

Then, as he reached the bridge, he stopped dead and started at us.

And stared.

And stared.

It was rather disconcerting, to be eyed like that by a creature that wants to snack on your toes. Lori stuck her shoe out over the deck of the bridge, which was only six inches or so above the water, and you could see the turtle's eyes flicker, just a hair.

He swam under the bridge to study us from the other side. It really was unsettling, to be studied so intently by another animal, especially one that can do you harm.  Did someone come out here and feed this monster? He seemed to me to be waiting for us to give him something, like a begging dog. He hung around for five minutes or more, watching. Yeesh.

Just past the bridge I heard twittering in the shrubbery. This time of year the only way you can find anything is to listen for it first, then watch where the sound is coming from. After a moment I saw movement and started shooting--always shoot first and ask questions later! You might not get a better look than your first, and if it is not a familiar bird, whatever pics you get may be the only chance you have to identify it.

Yellow-rumped warbler singing in the shrubbery.

Fortunately this little fella hung around, even posing for some nice portraits.

We eventually made our way back to the van, stopping briefly to check out the beach. Most of the swimmers and beachgoers had been chased off by the storm, although it never rained at the beach. But this was just a prelude to what was to come. We drove back to the motel and sat around outside our room, checking emails and snacking. Within a half hour it began to rain, and it rained and rained and thundered and hailed and then rained some more. We were all very glad we'd postponed our hike by a day!

Steam from the paper mill spreads out below the storm.

Next: We finally hit the trail!


  1. Reptiles have amazing instincts. Given the turtles terrestrial eye site could be better he was likely sizing you up to see if there was any real forage potential. I'll bet that makes you feel better.

    Beautiful shots of this bird! I saw a lark sparrow the other day which is quite unusual in western New England. At first, at a glance I thought he was a blackburnian warbler, but he was too big and the beak to broad. Nice to see something a little unusual!

    1. Thanks Bill! There are still so many birds unknown to me that at this point nearly every trip yields a new one for my list, which makes it all the more exciting. I read the other day in the National Parks magazine that there are 23 warbler species nesting in Pictured Rocks, which means I missed 20 of them! Just means I have to go back and look harder.... :-)