The 1st day of spring 2014 in Michigan, at Lighthouse County Park
7320 Lighthouse Road, 6 miles north of Port Hope, Mi. 48468, was a beautiful sunny day. It was a great day to sit under the blue skies on the park bench and observe the changing ice flow on the still frozen Lake Huron and the migrating geese that seemed to think they owned the place.
Feb 15, 2014 was an unexpected treat for area bird watchers. The Blue Water Bridge spanning the Saint Clair River, between Port Huron, Michigan and Point Edward and Sarnia, Ontario was the site of a mass waterfowl migration.
The record cold temperatures that had frozen 92% of the open water in the Great Lakes this year had caused the wintering waterfowl to look for food in the open waters near the Blue Water Bridge.
The record temperatures added danger to the waterfowl search for food. As the Merganser ducks dive deep for their food the water droplets start to freeze encasing their bills closed. Needless to say nature is quick to put an end to their suffering.
A rare sight in the Blue Water Bridge area was the large number of Goldeneye ducks. The black-and-white Common Goldeneye is one of the last ducks to migrate south in fall. They often will winter as far North as open water permits this year North was near the bridge.
March 1st, Winter is in the lead, and Spring seems to be losing.
Normally this time of year the snowman is a puddle and the spring maples are starting to flow their sap, giving promise of a sweet start to the warmer weather.
The squirrels are getting ready to give birth, and in 8 weeks the little ones will arrive, hopefully to green grass and spring flowers.
But this year something seems to have gone wrong. Winter storms are still in progress and the snow is piling up, to record levels and the temperature is predicted to remain at freezing.
It is enough to make one wonder will it ever end.
So what is a squirrel to do? But pray that soon winter will come to an end.
For many of us experiencing the cold blast from the “Polar Vortex” we are starting to wonder if we will ever see spring again. Please know that there is hope, and that we are on the count down to warmer days. Spring starts on Thursday, 20 March 2014.
Spring is only 49 days away. Hang in there.
Christian legend has it that the flower lily of the valley is also known as Our Lady’s tears or Mary’s tears from Christian legends that it sprang from the weeping of the Virgin Mary during the crucifixion of Jesus. Other etiologies its coming into being from Eve’s tears after she was driven with Adam from the Garden of Eden.
But for me it is the eternal symbol of spring.
After several new inches of snow added to the existing piles of snow, all of us in Michigan are looking forward to seeing the 1st Robin of spring. The red-breasted American Robin is not only a great sign that spring has arrived, it is also Michigan’s official state bird.
If you have a bird feeder and enjoy seeing the winterbirds at the feeder, you know about the squirrel in need of a handout. These pesky little varmints are relentless in making sure the feeders are empty. Then once empty they will knock on your window and beg for more. The suet cakes are also fair game when it comes to the attack of the hungry winter squirrel. I have had my plastic finch seed feeders chewed to destruction, my metal and glass sunflower seed feeder pulled from the hook and emptied onto the ground, and my corn feeders carried off into the woods.
So how do you stop these little beggars – well one thing I have discovered is that they do not like safflower seeds. So I filled my feeders and gave it a test. It was not visited by the Red, and grey squirrels, but the black ones seem to like safflower seeds.
So if you have any tricks to keep the winter birds happy, and discourage the squirrel varmint’s I would love to give it a try.
The Deep Freeze of 2014 also known as the Polar Vortex hit Michigan hard and with it we had some extremely cold temperatures – 18 F. Time for some outdoor frozen soap-bubble photography. Something I have wanted to try for some time, but have not had weather cold enough to try it. This is best done at -5 F and below. Now it sounds rather simple. Blow some soap bubbles at -5 F let them freeze in mid-air and photograph them on the fresh snow. Guess what, soap bubbles do not want to form when it is that cold, and when they do they break. So start early so you are ready when the sun crests the horizon.
I discovered the best method was to be at ground level, on fresh snow and wave the bubble wand about 6″ off of the snow up wind of the landing site. Once the bubbles are in place wait till the sun comes up, and photograph with the shadows cast by the angle of sun on the bubbles. You do not have a lot of time as the bubbles tend to rupture when hit by the warmth of the sun light, or snow particles carried by the wind. The results are beautiful, but the job is rather dangerous as at -5 F you and the equipment are at the limits. Frostbite can set in fast with 13 min of exposure. Be sure to warm your fingers often.
So the next time the Polar Vortex temps visit your area and you want to try this, be sure to find an area that will provide you with good sun exposure and is protected from the wind. Make sure you have soap bubbles on hand as they are hard to find in most stores.
Worst case you can make your own soap-bubbles with the recipe below