Due to the cool spring here in East Tawas, plant development has been slow. Therefore, the first Garlic Mustard pull scheduled for May 7th has been cancelled.
Please mark your calendars for Saturday, June 4, 9:00 a.m., when we will have the proper plant development for an effective removal effort. We look forward to seeing you then.
Bird Hide at E. Tawas city park
East Tawas City Park has a new addition; one birders can appreciate. It’s a bird hide. The bird hide was built by city employees at no cost to AVA. The hide is meant to disguise curious birders (and the public) as they search for waterfowl, and songbirds in or along the beach of Tawas Bay. Note the viewing windows at different heights and angles in the photos.
AuSable Valley Audubon board members have been supportive of this project since its inception by writing a letter of support for the grant that helped purchase the land and offering advice and opinions on the construction and design of the hide.
Of special interest is the extended part on one end. This extension allows a wheelchair to pull-up flush to the inside viewing area and still have room for the person’s legs and the chair.
Stop by and give the hide a try! It is directly across from the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant on US 23 in East Tawas. Look for the duck tracks inside, too!
Bird Hide interior
Click on the photos for a larger view.
PULLING TOGETHER project 2016…SPOTTED KNAPWEED pull schedule
We don’t want to forget our invasive plant species pulls on May 7th and June 4th.
Those planned pulls are for Garlic mustard. (See message listed below posted Apr. 14th.)
Spotted Knapweed is also native to Europe but that is where its similarity to Garlic Mustard ends. This species is listed as a prohibited noxious weed by the Michigan Department of Agriculture. Here, it poses a serious threat to rangelands and high quality areas. Its habitat is roadsides, old fields, pastures, undisturbed dry prairies and oak and pine barrens, and also appears on dunes and beaches. It is a serious threat within the day-use area of the Tawas Point State Park where it has gained a foothold. Last year our small group pulled half-a-ton(!) of Spotted Knapweed. We plan to do even better this year. We are making a difference!
We will be pulling each Wednesday morning, starting after the 4th of July holiday. Here is what our schedule looks like:
Wednesday, July 6
Wednesday, July 13
Wednesday, July 20
Wednesday, July 27
Wednesday, August 3
Saturday, August 6
Wednesday, August 10
Wednesday, August 17
We will begin each pull at 9:00 a.m. Also, please note that we plan an additional pull on Saturday, August 6. Kristin Wing, the AmeriCorp member loaned to us from Huron Pines will help us develop that broader planned pull with additional publicity. Watch for more information on that at a later date. Continue reading
PULLING TOGETHER project 2016…GARLIC MUSTARD pull schedule.
GARLIC MUSTARD is a native plant of Europe and is very difficult to eradicate once it is established in an area. Because it is invasive to our area it spreads rapidly and displaces native or other desired plants in a relatively short period of time. Each plant can produce thousands of seeds which can be spread by wildlife, humans, water, and other means.
As we dedicate our work efforts inside the Tawas Point State Park, we are fortunate that Garlic mustard is only growing in the relatively small area behind the state park office. Our goal is to remove these plants to keep the seeds from reseeding the soil. Doing this each year will deplete the seed bank and eventually clear the area of Garlic Mustard. With the pulling method, parks in the lower part of the state have been cleared of Garlic mustard. It can happen here also!
We are planning a Garlic mustard pull for Saturday, May 7, starting at 9:00 a.m. We plan to pull for 2 hours.
Most likely we will need an additional pull, which we have scheduled for Saturday, June 4, 9:00 a.m. Continue reading
On Tuesday, March 15, 2016 AuSable Valley Audubon will welcome expert birder, Steve Baker, to Eagle Pointe Plaza in Hale at 1 PM for a presentation about raptor identification; specifically as experienced in the Mackinac Straits area of northern Michigan.
The public and members are encouraged to attend this free program about hawks, golden and bald eagles as well as other raptors.
Prior to the program members, interested public and friends are invited to attend lunch at Big Bob’s Restaurant at 11:30.
Call 362-2522 for more information.
AuSable Valley Audubon performs counts for two areas each year for the annual Christmas Bird Count. Please check out the December 2015 results on the CBC Archive page of our website.
Thank you to all who participated.
Pine Siskins at a Tawas area feeder.
Around the middle of January bird enthusiasts began to notice increasing numbers of Pine Siskins at their thistle feeders. This small brown heavily streaked member of the finch family normally resides in Canada. However, when seed production of natural winter food sources is low, the birds will venture south. Such was the case with reduced cone production of the White Spruce, a major food of the siskin.
Thus, we here in NE Michigan have experienced thousands of these birds in our area seeking food. Scientists refer to this vast influx as an “irruption.”
Pine Siskin Irruption Map winter 2016
AuSable Valley Audubon member, Peggy Ridgway, sent out a request to birders from Tawas to Mackinaw City requesting that they report to her the numbers of siskins visiting their feeding stations. “The numbers started rolling in,” stated Ridgway. She received over 50 replies. “Many stated that they had as many as 50-150 feeding daily and folks were going through the thistle like crazy,” she added. Ridgway also noted that a few individuals were hosting 400 and 500 birds daily ! (Click on the map for a larger view.)
A few reports came from the West side including Traverse City, Petoskey, Harbor Springs, and Charlevoix. However, observers were only seeing 10-15 at feeders.
“We probably won’t experience an irruption like this for many years to come! So, we might as well enjoy the show. One day, they will just suddenly be gone as suddenly as they arrived,” concluded Ridgway.
Several members of AVA and a representative from Ducks Unlimited gathered on Jan. 7 to say farewell to U.S. Forest Service biologist Paul Thompson.
Paul will be leaving the headquarters in Oscoda and transferring to the Cadillac field office. He will continue his biologist position, but will shift his focus from Kirtland’s Warbler to the Great Lakes Piping Plover and other endangered species.
For the past eight years, Paul has led the Kirtland’s Warbler field trips
during the Tawas Point Birding Festival. His expertise and fine presentations were appreciated by all.
Paul also assisted AVA on numerous other projects and he will be missed by all.
Sharp-shinned Hawk with Mourning Dove
Sharp-shinned Hawk with Mourning Dove
Here are a couple of photos submitted by AVA member Patsy Mortimer. She stated that they are of: “A juvenile sharp-shinned hawk nabbed a mourning dove at our feeder in Hale Jan. 17.”
Not all birds eat seeds, but all birds need to eat. Click on the pictures for a larger view.
One of the announcements made during the January AVA membership meeting was of an upcoming informational talk about the Great Backyard Bird Count.
The meeting will be held on February 3rd in Oscoda at the Robert J. Parks Library on Skeel Avenue. The meeting will be held from 1-3 PM.
Check out this opportunity for some background and information on how you can participate. The Great Backyard Bird Count will occur on February 12-15 this year.