Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Of Turkeys and Eagles

SLBD continued:

After a walk to the beach and a shower I drove back to my campsite. Boy was I ready for dinner and a book! But as I pulled into the campground I saw three wild turkey hens, who were hanging out near the campground host's site. I was excited and yet not--I really was tired, but I knew I could not ignore these beautiful birds, so near at hand. I parked the van and went back to an empty site with my camera to get some photos.

Wild turkey hen in the Platte River campground.

They moved steadily through the campground, poking around in the duff looking for yummy bits to eat.

They came within six or seven feet of me. Obviously they were quite used to people.

Such gaudy plumage! I think they look like a five year-old put them together.

Such sweet faces and expressive eyes--they look vulnerable with their bare heads. How do they handle winter?

I eventually went back to camp and made dinner. While I ate they walked right through my site and past my table. What a gift!

The next morning, Friday, I left Sleeping Bear Dunes. My plan was to drive to Grayling, in the middle of the state, and drop off some artwork at a gallery that is carrying our work, then drive up to Hartwick Pines State Park, a few minutes north of town. I was going to hike along the Au Sable River and stay Friday night at the park, then go home Saturday. But once I was on the road I felt more like heading home instead of camping another night. I decided to just go to Grayling and then go home.

The GPS took me to Grayling by way of Traverse City on M-72, which skirts the southern shores of the west and east arms of Grand Traverse Bay. I wasn't real excited to be in Traverse City during morning rush hour. But as M-72 rounded the east bay and began to head north I happened to look out at the water. There, standing on a sand bar, where two bald eagles. I whipped off the road into the parking lot of a defunct hotel, grabbed my gear and sprinted across the road. I noticed a few other folks with cameras down the shore.

A pair of bald eagles in the east arm of Grand Traverse Bay.

The morning light was soft on them but they were a ways away--these images are all cropped quite a bit. It was not warm--low 40's at best--and a stiff breeze was blowing from the south. I hadn't bothered to throw a coat on and it wasn't long before I was shivering.

The eagle on the left is munching on a tasty morsel.  Mmmmmm....

While the eagles were pretty they weren't doing much and I soon got distracted. One eagle flew off while I was watching some ducks out on the bay. Then I got distracted my a killdeer who landed in front of me in the muddy muck near shore.

Killdeer on Grand Traverse Bay

I looked up in time to see the second eagle take to the air.  Such majesty--and to think we very nearly wiped them out. Turkeys too were hunted to dangerously low numbers. Their comeback is a testament to what good, sound regulations can do.

Ben Franklin had wanted the wild turkey to be our national symbol, but we ended up with the eagle instead. I think either would have been a great choice.

And thus ends the Sleeping Bear Dunes posts--finally!


  1. wow nice turkeys..My DH saw one in our Florida subdivision and he was surprised..he was dodoubt very lost! haha

    1. Have you read Joe Hutto's "Illumination in the Flatwoods", or watched the PBS special? He is a Florida naturalist who raised a brood of wild turkeys. It is very good, both the book and the film.

  2. Hi there. Great pictures of the Wild Turkeys and the bald Eagles. Mother Nature always just drops the best photo moments flat into your lap. It just never fails. You did very well with the moment you were given! Beautiful pictures. I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and over the past year, my wife and I have come upon several Wild Turkeys. We even came upon a hen with her baby turkey flying up into a tree this summer. Fortunately, we had our camera with us and got some good video and pictures. We have posted them for anyone interested at: http://frametoframe.ca/photo-essay-wild-turkey-sightings-ontario

    Now last Friday, we finally got the moment we have waited over 50 years to have happen. We came upon a Northern Saw-Whet Owl. The Owl was five feet off the ground, and sitting pretty in a tree. This was the first time we had ever seen this bird. For those interested in seeing our pictures, and video, they are at:

    1. Thanks for sharing, Bob! I have seen very few owls in the wild, and almost always when they are flying away from me! The only owl I ever saw that I got to watch and photograph (at a distance) was a barred owl up on Pyramid Point in Sleeping Bear Dunes back in 2005. We even went up to Whitefish Point in the U.P. in April a few years back hoping to catch owl migration and didn't see a single bird--but did find the remains of a boreal owl on the beach.