Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Scenic Roads and rare birds

When we plan our daily route we get out the maps and look for interesting roads. We look for the roads with the little dots beside them. We’ll take those if they don’t lead to far in the wrong direction.  These are the scenic highways and byways.

Michigan Highway 23 is marked that way on the map. It runs along Lake Huron through a bunch of little towns. We were anticipating a really scenic drive when we started out on it.

After about an hour I began to wonder why they had marked highway 23 as scenic.  It is mile after mile of driveways leading off to summer cottages in the woods. On one side these houses back onto Lake Huron. The houses and trees block the view of the lake.

A view of Lake Huron . . or is it Lake Michigan? 

It occurred to me that it must be the mailboxes and little signs that were scenic. God, there were lots of them.  This is 55 MPH road lined with driveways spaced about 200 feet apart. The owners have to do something in order to see where the driveway is far enough ahead to signal and safely turn. So they buy cute mailboxes and put up cute little signs. “Donna’s Dream”, ”Kate’s Cottage”, “The Bank Owns It”, and so on for about 70 miles.

We finally turned off on a nondescript road since we couldn’t see anything scenic on the scenic road. This one was Michigan 72. Wow, was it a pretty drive!

It makes you wonder how they decide what to call a scenic road. For that matter, I wonder who the “they” are. Also, once a road is designated “scenic” does anyone check years later to see if it remains so? My, my, life's great questions that one ponders driving at 55 MPH on back roads.

The heritage committee here in the UP must be into turkeys.

We stopped for the night in Mio, Michigan. Mio was a must see on Brenda’s list. If you think this was so because of some bird you are right on. This bird being the Kirtland’s Warbler.

This is an endangered species. It is endangered because it is very picky and inflexible. It only nests in new growth Jack Pine. Successful fire fighting reduced the number of new growth Jack Pines so the numbers of these birds declined. At one time there were only about 500 of these birds. Recovery efforts have brought the count up to about 6,000.

Unlike other rare birds we have chased after the Kirtland’s Warbler was an easy find. The Forest Service takes daily tours to its breeding grounds so birders can hear it (a very loud and distinctive song just suited for old ears) and possibly get a look at it.

Our bird was very cooperative. The tour guide, Dana, drove us to where she knew a pair were nesting. Our bird began singing his heart out when we came into his territory. He kept approaching us until he popped up on a limb maybe ten feet from where we were standing. Not shy in the least he just stared at us and sang us a song. How sweet!

In Mio, Michigan, the Kirtland's Warbler has lots of respect. they built a statue of it.

If only the Pine Warbler, Canada Warbler, and Woodcock would be so cooperative!

Tonight we are taking a tour of the Seney Wildlife Preserve a few miles from where we are staying. I’m looking forward to testing a new type of mosquito repellant I just bought.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like it is still fun!! Re: the polite Canadian customs vs ours, we always dealt with nice US customs people in and out of Canada in the northwest. The ones at the airports returning from Europe were also (mostly) nice and friendly. Maybe you just got a grumpy one.

    Sounds like you're headed in the direction of the Mackinac Bridge. If you go across northern Wis. you will be passing near Bayfield. This is the jumping off point for the Apostle Islands, and the resting place of my paternal grandparents. You should stop in and see them. I'm sure they would be delighted with the visit if you can find the grave sites.

    Keep on truckin' and watch the skeeters. Only DEET works.