My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Garden Peninsula birding

While on my vacation back in September, I visited Michigan’s Garden Peninsula, as that’s where the Fayette Historic State Park is located, which was the subject of a previous post. It was while I was at Fayette SP that I noticed hundreds of warblers in the trees around the park.

I thought that rather strange at first, since the Garden Peninsula is a peninsula after all, and I wondered if the birds had made a wrong turn in their migration. Many of the smaller birds won’t cross bodies of water if they can not see land on the other side. Then I remembered that there is a chain of islands extending from Michigan’s Garden Peninsula to Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula, so I began to form a theory that the birds were working their way south down the Garden Peninsula, then would “island hop” to Wisconsin. Later research confirmed that theory.

I checked the eBirds hotspots map, and found that while very few entries had been made from Michigan’s Garden Peninsula, some of the islands in Wisconsin, along with the tip of the Door Peninsula were very active hotspots in Wisconsin. That tells me that my theory is correct, that the migrating birds do island hop their way to Wisconsin.

Map of the Garden Peninsula and island chain

Map of the Garden Peninsula and island chain

So, here are a few of the photos of birds that I shot during my very short visit to the Garden Peninsula. Not all the photos are good, there’s a few clickers in the batch, but this post is intended to show the wide variety of birds that I saw there. I’ll start with an American Kestrel that I spotted along the road as I was leaving Fayette State Park.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

There are several Lake Michigan access points on the Peninsula, including a township park at Sac Bay, where I shot this crow getting a drink.

American crow drinking from Lake Michigan

American crow drinking from Lake Michigan

Some of these photos were shot in the Portage Bay State Forest Campground, I’m afraid that I didn’t pay enough attention when I uploaded the photos, as they are mixed up as far as when and where I shot them.

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

Back to the Kestrel again.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

I think that you’ll get the idea that I am trying to convey here, just from the photos.

Northern flicker

Northern flicker

White-throated sparrow

White-throated sparrow

Bald eagle in flight

Bald eagle in flight

Gull diving for food

Gull diving for food

Bald eagle buzzing mute swans

Bald eagle buzzing mute swans

Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

Mute swan and unidentified waterfowl

Mute swan and unidentified waterfowl

Birds aren’t the only subjects that I found worth photographing.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

lichen

lichen

???

Sow thistle?

The next few were shot while on the short Bog Lake hiking trail, which starts and ends at the Portage Bay SFCG.

Pileated woodpecker in flight

Pileated woodpecker in flight

Black-throated green warbler

Black-throated green warbler

Black-throated green warbler

Black-throated green warbler

Female hooded merganser

Female hooded merganser

Water striders and leaf

Water striders and leaf

Female hooded merganser

Female hooded merganser

And finally, two photos taken from my vehicle as I was starting the trip back home.

Sandhill cranes

Sandhill cranes

American pipit

American pipit

In my travels around the peninsula, I noticed an osprey nest on top of a power pole. While I was eating supper in a local establishment, I was talking to several people about the birds I had been seeing and asked if the osprey nest was active. I then got to hear the story of how when the osprey first began building a nest on the pole, the utility company had tried to discourage the osprey for fear that one of the osprey would be electrocuted but they would not be discouraged, and that the utility finally gave in and let the osprey build their nest on the pole, then rerouted the power lines around the one pole that the osprey built their nest on. I didn’t see the osprey, as it was the last week of September, and they had already migrated south by then.

The best times of the year to visit the area would be April and September to view the birds migrating up the peninsula in the spring, and down in the fall, but I’m sure that there would be plenty of summer residents to keep a person occupied as well. I would make the Garden Peninsula one of my regular birding places if it wasn’t so far from where I live, but I’m sure that I’ll be going back from time to time while on vacations over the coming years.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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17 responses

  1. That’s a lot of different birds for one spot! I’d be real happy if I went plant hunting and found that many different ones growing in one place. That flower does look like a sow thistle but it’s hard to be sure. I think my favorite shot is of the white throated sparrow.

    November 15, 2013 at 10:46 am

    • Thanks Allen! I’d bet that you’d be in plant heaven there, several different types of habitats come together there, which is what attracts so many birds. It’s part boreal forest, part sandy Lake Michigan shore, part bog, with a few others thrown in for good measure.

      November 15, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      • It sounds like a plant hunter’s heaven! I meant to tell you that your movie is running at the top of the page again. It’s blank white for a while and then it starts up.

        November 15, 2013 at 6:33 pm

      • Thanks for the update, it does take a while for all the photos to load. I had intended to do some plant hunting myself, but there were too darned many birds around.

        November 16, 2013 at 2:36 am

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  3. Congrats on your Blog of the Year award nomination! Learn more, click here:
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    November 15, 2013 at 2:22 pm

  4. Not at all, it was a pleasure.

    November 15, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    • Thanks Tom!

      November 16, 2013 at 2:33 am

  5. Have I seen a kestrel in your blog before? I love those little raptors! Well, we don’t have sandhill cranes around here either but one thing we do have is ospreys. When they fly overhead, they’re so big, you can feel them in the air above you (or maybe I’m just turning part duck!) We’re very lucky to be near the water and several active osprey nesting sites. Thanks for sharing your pix!

    November 16, 2013 at 8:48 am

    • Thanks Lori! I have shot a few kestrels from time to time before, but they are so small and wary, that it’s been hard for me to get a good photo of them. I had to chase a pair of them for half an hour to get the photos in this post, and I never did get close enough to the female for a photo.

      I know what you mean about feeling predators, it comes from spending a lot of time outside and watching other wildlife react to the predators.

      November 16, 2013 at 9:25 am

  6. What a great story about the osprey nest! Don’t you wish everyone was as gracious about wildlife? Thanks for another fun, interesting blog entry! Seems like I always learn something new every time I read through one.

    November 19, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    • Well, I think that the fact that the power utility could have been fined if an osprey had been electrocuted even if the osprey was at fault played a big part in having the powerline moved to a new pole. 😉

      I learn new things with every post that I do, and I’m more than happy to pass on what I learn, so thank you for taking the time to read it.

      November 20, 2013 at 2:01 am

  7. That is really interesting. You would think this spot would be a huge birding place during migration season. Perhaps people just don’t bother to go.

    November 21, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    • Well, there is Whitefish Point, a very famous bird watching spot about 60 miles from where I was for that post, and where the Audubon Society has a sanctuary and observatory, so most birders go there. That’s Michigan, so many birding hotspots that some are hardly ever fully explored. Much of the state is similar to the Chesapeake Bay area due to the Great Lakes surrounding Michigan.

      November 22, 2013 at 2:23 am

  8. What a great variety of birds! Now you have made me want to take a foray up to this gem of a place!!! Will definitely be on my list for this coming year!

    November 24, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    • Thanks! Just so that you know, other than Fayette Historic State Park and out of the way places for birding, there’s not much to see or do there.

      November 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm

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