It has been a couple years since Bonnie and I have taken a ride up to the Soo and Chippewa County. Not the best of days for searching for birds and wildlife as the fog was fair at best and bad at times. But, we had an enjoyable time, mostly searching for white Snowy Owls, in thick fog and perched over the snow.
Bonnie spotted the first Snowy Owl perched high in a utility pole along M-48 on the south end of the Rudyard Snowy Owl Loop. We found another four more on Centerline Road and one of the birds was an almost pure white bird. All the others we observed today were heavily speckled.
Traveling along M-48 towards Pickford we saw a very large group of American Turkeys near the Munuscong River crossing of the highway. Later we had another smaller flock of turkeys along M-48 east of Pickford. It still seems strange to see turkeys, doing well but apparently being fed in the eastern Upper Peninsula. If someone had suggested this in the early 1970’s when I first moved up to the Soo, they would have been told that they were crazy to think that they would survive the winters of deep snows and cold, even if artificially fed. We did not have any Snowy Owls in the usual hotspots near Pickford, though we did have another heavily speckled Snowy Owl on M-48 East near the golf course.
No sharp-tailed grouse were observed in areas where we have typically seen them in the past, but we did see two ruffed grouse along Scenic Drive . We had one nice flock of Snow Buntings and five Bald Eagles in our travels including one sitting on an ice flow in the Straits of Mackinac on the north end of the Bridge.
Best sighting though was having lunch in the Soo at the Palace Saloon with good friends Lauri and Faber Bland of Brimley. Friends that go back a long time, as Lauri was our classmate at Lake Superior State College and Bonnie’s roommate . Faber is another fish rat that I worked with at Jordan River and Pendills Creek fish hatcheries. Discussion of bird, wildlife and wildflower observations dominated the conversation as one of us noted there were four biologists sitting at the table.
We hope to be able to try again sometime soon for another road trip when the weather and snow conditions are much better.