Snowy Owls-Chippewa County 01/20

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Snowy Owls-Chippewa County 01/20

Postby Rick Baetsen » Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:08 pm

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.
Rick Baetsen
Rick Baetsen
USFS-USFWS Ret.
Michigan Outdoor Writers Association
Walloon Lake and Munising, Michigan
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Re: Snowy Owls-Chippewa County 01/20

Postby MikeW » Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:15 am

Nice report Rick. Sounds like a great day.
Have a good weekend,
Mike
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Re: Snowy Owls-Chippewa County 01/20

Postby Dale » Sat Jan 21, 2017 11:24 am

Nice post Rick. Thanks. May try to get up there soon and try our luck.

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Re: Snowy Owls-Chippewa County 01/20

Postby silverowl » Sun Jan 22, 2017 8:02 pm

Nice Rick. Perry and I were up in that area yesterday (Saturday) We saw 6 snowys they were very hard to spot because of the fog. All in the Rudyard area. On then to Dunbar Park, many Pinesiskins, Purple finches, some Pine Grosbeaks, plus the usual of starlings, crows etc...There we ran into a birding group, shared sightings then ran into them again when we stopped for lunch at the Cosy Corner Grill in Barbeau, turns out they were the Michigan Audubon group hailing from all parts of Michigan. We then went to the Dafter dump and saw about 12 Bald Eagles (kept losing count) mature and immature. My highlight was one Golden Eagle. The group said they had seen 2 Glaucous Gulls at Dafter. I did not...I am not good at my gulls. All in all it was a nice day.

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Re: Snowy Owls-Chippewa County 01/20

Postby MikeW » Sun Jan 22, 2017 9:34 pm

Nice report Donna. Thanks.
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Re: Snowy Owls-Chippewa County 01/20

Postby Rick Baetsen » Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:28 am

Dale, we had most the Rudyard owls on Centerline with one on m48 and none on Hantz even though we drove it slowly a couple times. Northwest out of Pickford is supposed to be as good if not better than Rudyard often from reports from friends lately, but I think the weather and fog shut down our chances of seeing anything there. The weather or fog had not improved by mid afternoon so we headed home after lunch rather than checking out west of the Soo at some spots I know of from time living out on Whitefish Bay and Bay Mills.

Donna, thanks for the nice report, glad you and Perry were able to get up north to look for some birds. Locally I keep looking for Snowy Owls south and east of Petoskey but have yet to see any.

Rick Baetsen
Rick Baetsen
USFS-USFWS Ret.
Michigan Outdoor Writers Association
Walloon Lake and Munising, Michigan
http://www.rickbaetsen.com
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