Spruce Grouse and Camping Sightings

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Spruce Grouse and Camping Sightings

Postby Rick Baetsen » Wed Sep 14, 2016 8:57 pm

I was told by Bonnie last week that I had only taken her camping once this year and way back in early May. So, we timed a two night camping trip to miss most of late last weeks heavy rains and tent camped at Bodi Lake State Forest Campground in northern Luce County up near Lake Superior.

The American Robin we had around camp that first evening turned out to be an interesting story as it was no more the following morning. It was not around the next day and we found a pile of feathers on a stump that were of a Robin, likely taken by one of the owls that hangs around the campground. A pair of Barred Owls and a Great Horned Owl are often heard and sometimes observed at the end of the camping loop. We did hear coyotes howling and yipping at night and Bonnie heard a Whip-poor-will calling.

During the day the resident Bald Eagle perched in a big White Pine near our campsite and the Kingfisher perched in a lake overhanging tree. A trip over to Crisp Point Lighthouse was a slow ride on rain soaked roads and trails. With resident volunteer light keepers there on site we found the lighthouse open and were able to climb to the top and out on the catwalk for some really nice views of Lake Superior and beaches heading west to the Two Hearted River and east to Vermilion Station. A couple flights of Canada Geese came off Lake Superior to remind us that the autumn season is getting close.

Merlins were found at Lake Superior State Forest Campground and in the jack pines at Miner's Beach in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. It was nice to read the signs on the beaches near Grand Marais telling of how well the Piping Plovers have been doing recently. We stopped at the mouth of the Anna River in Munising on our way to our camp to see if we might observed the Crested Caracara. No luck again that day. Actually, we got to see it within a half an hour of when it was originally posted back in late June or early July as we were in town that day but have stopped more than a dozen times since hoping to get a closer view but have never seen it again. Bad timing I guess as often others post they have observed it not long after our visits.

At our camp south of Munising, the hen pheasant that must have bred real late only has two chicks left of the five we observed a couple weeks ago.

On our way home on Sunday, Bonnie suggested we spend time in the Hendrie River Swamp north of Trout Lake in western Chippewa County. Mid-summer we heard of a forest fire in the area and noted a couple roads were closed for a couple weeks due to fire fighting activity. No actual location was ever given for the site of the forest fire and we wanted to check to see if any of the areas we have been surveying for Spruce Grouse annually since 1983 were burned by the fire. We found no sign of the forest fire and decided to take a hike into one of the mixed swamp conifer sites. When I pulled the truck up under a large White Pine to park, Bonnie pointed out a male Spruce Grouse perched in a Black Spruce tree not more than 15 feet from where we had parked the truck. Bonnie got good looks with binoculars and could see the red eye combs before the grouse flew up higher into another tree. On the hike along a two-track we observed a couple Spruce Grouse dusting bowls but few droppings or tracks of the birds in the sand. So, we were lucky to have one before we even got out of the truck.

Camping was good and campfires were even better and we had a few nice bird observations throughout the trip.

Thanks Sandy for fixing things so I was able to make this post.
Rick Baetsen
Rick Baetsen
USFS-USFWS Ret.
Michigan Outdoor Writers Association
Walloon Lake and Munising, Michigan
http://www.rickbaetsen.com
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Re: Spruce Grouse and Camping Sightings

Postby Duane Wilcox » Thu Sep 15, 2016 9:31 pm

Sounds like a great trip!
When I die, I hope she doesn't sell my tools and cameras for what I said I paid for them!

Keep your stick on the ice!
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Re: Spruce Grouse and Camping Sightings

Postby MikeW » Fri Sep 16, 2016 7:12 pm

Nice report Rick, thanks. I was just now able to sign on after a couple weeks of not being able to log in. Glad things are fixed now.
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Re: Spruce Grouse and Camping Sightings

Postby deadstream guy » Sun Sep 18, 2016 5:43 pm

Sounds like a great getaway! I hope to sneak up that way next month for a day or several, but we will see how that works out.....too much to do now that I am all 98% retired and everything.
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Re: Spruce Grouse and Camping Sightings

Postby Danaduck » Wed Sep 21, 2016 9:52 am

I camped at Camp Wilwin near Trout Lake this last week end with the boy scouts. Afterwards I went up to Whitefish Point. Got a lifer parasitic jaeger on Monday morning. Joanne at the gift shop gave me a new pamphlet on birding the eastern UP trail. It started raining most of the time on Mon afternoon so I visited some of the spots near Pickford and Cedarville to see if they looked good for next spring. Most looked real good. This morning walked my own property here in Alpena County and very little activity. My game cam had but one fox on it and my own dog after six days gone.
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