Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Piping Plover

The first think to know about the UP and Whitefish Point is that it was very mosquitoey.  Sounds mild when I word it this way, but a truer telling may be to say that the mosquitos were intense.  We were greeted by the owner of Freighter's on the Bay Motel with instructions on how to use a new-fangled mosquito zapper - a racquetball-racket shaped thing with, instead of strings, thin, wire-mesh electric netting that was battery activated by a small button on the handle.  While pressing the button we waved the racket at a mosquito thereby giving off the sound of mini-fireworks popping when the buzzing insect was zapped.  It was very useful when indoors or in the car.  To enter any door was to bring in a wave of mosquitos on our clothing.  We spent whatever time it took to zap them.  If one remained unzapped it was buzzing in my ear at night.  We persevered and I'm glad we did.    

Addendum dated 07/09/16:  For over a year I have left this dragonfly unidentified.  I don't like identified things on my blog. Recently, I have been photographing dragonflies.  I find them challenging, satisfying and fun.  Mostly I am currently seeing only common dragons and damsels.  I'm using Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East by Dennis Paulson, 2011 and the expertise of a friend for ID help.  Paulson's book is great, but it's hard to ID many dragonflies from photographs.  Then trying to make an ID from a poor photo, as is the one above, the degree of difficulty is ratcheted up.  (Some of the Paulson book photos are not great either.)  With this explanation, I am going to go out on a limb and ID the above dragonfly as a female Zebra Clubtail (Stylurus scudderi).  My photo is a near match with the photo used in Paulson.  But it's the habitat description that contributes more:
Clean rivers and streams with sand or sand and cobble bottoms and moderate current in wooded landscapes; usually much gravel and at least scattered rocks.  Anyone who's visited Whitefish Point knows this is the habitat and it can also be seen in the piping plover photos below. If I am correct about my ID, it's my first clubtail.  Note:  I found an omission in Paulson.  He has not included zebra clubtail in his male appendage and female subgenital drawings.           

In jail for its own benefit.  During all three visits to the point we saw a hunting merlin.

But with a pass to leave whenever it wants.

 Very brief excursion from jail.

Sarah Toner found these footprints in the sand which we thought might belong to the piping plover.  The footprints were found a reasonable distance from the safety cage.

In each of the three visits we saw only one bird.

Overall the saftety cage was quite small, but more than adequate to protect a tiny shorebird.  In the photo above a straight orange line is seen in the upper third of the photo.  This is the "psychological fence" that marks a very large area kept off limits to people.  This little bird might be the highlight of my summer.  It is only the third piping plover I have ever seen and my first in Michigan.    

Susan Kielb, Artemis Eyster, Mike Kielb and Sarah Toner at the Kielb's house at Whitefish Point.  We spent a really terrific afternoon and evening with the Kielb's and Sarah.

1 comment:

Jerry said...

Makes me wish I was there w/ you all! Great post, Cathy!