The Journey North

Leaving North Carolina

Up at the crack of dawn, I jumped into the already loaded Outback and towed Puff out the driveway onto Olive Branch Road. I had loaded up everything I thought would be needed at the new house, like my camera, kayaks, hiking boots, bird manuals. The usual stuff one needs to get things going at a new house. This was the most difficult packing I had ever done. I was moving, but not completely. That comes in November.  But I was very excited to hit the road. I knew where I was going and how to get there, and had all the time in the world to do it. 

Goodbye, my love. See you in June!

Buckeye State

Nothing to report about the drive up to Ohio. It took nine hours to get to Salt Fork State Park, just outside Cambridge, Ohio. I had stayed there twice before and was excited to have the chance to bird the huge park in the springtime. The campground was almost empty. As tired as I was, I trounced around before sunset and then up at the crack of dawn looking for spring migrants. I never set eyes on a Blue-winged warbler but heard many on both days. The park was birdy, but most migrant warblers had not yet arrived. I had hoped for better but still had a great time.  I checked off 57 species, then hit the road for Magee Marsh outside of Toledo, Ohio.

Someone had to pose for me, who doesn't love an American Robin

Magee and Maumee Bay

Magee Marsh is one of the premier birding locations in the United States IF you get there in May. Well, I got there on May 2, which is good, but not primetime. Not complaining, I never complain about any chance to go birding or to be outside in nature. It's just that I know from experience how good it can be.  I set up camp 15 miles west at Maumee Bay State Park, a great place to camp in the off-season. I wasted no time getting to Magee. Actually, I stopped there BEFORE I set up camp.  What makes Magee so special is, well many things do, but one is how close you are to the birds. They are tired and hungry after migrating hundreds of miles and could care less who is looking at them.  They need to power up for the journey north. Mostly I speak of warblers, who mostly breed in the boreal forests of Canada (which are being systematically destroyed by energy and timber companies).

Cape-May Warbler

Maumee Bay State Park

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Catbird

Tawas Point State Park - The Cape Cod of the Midwest

Along I75, the way north, I veered right at Standish and drove to Tawas Point State Park. It is also a premier birding location, especially in late May. Well, at least now I know where it is. It looks like a great place to bird, and I did take a hike the next morning after the freezing cold rain and the wind abated. Oh boy, I was wondering what I had gotten myself into.  COLD, WET, WINDY, in MAY for Pete's sake. After getting wet and cold settng up camp, I settled in for a warm night in the teardrop. The next morning was not wet, but very windy and cold. I took a short hike and hit the road. 

Tawas Point Lighthouse

Marquette - Home Sweet New Home

As I drove toward Marquette I kept seeing places that looked good for birding. It was not my first time in the area but I knew that now the time was available to explore, to wander, to experience all that the UP has to offer.  would soon learn that the birds I left behind in North Carolina had not yet arrived this far north and that I had weeks to wait until the trees, bushes, and waterways came alive with the sounds of spring.  On the trip, I tallied 98 species. with no lifers, which are getting harder to come by birding east of the Mississippi, but I did check off 4 new birds for Ohio and 12 new Michigan birds. I have added 7 more to my Michigan list since getting to Marquette. As I write this a warm southerly breeze is predicted beginning tomorrow morning. Woohoo, here we go!

Marquette - Presque Isle Point

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