Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Marquette Snowshoe

After my plane landed the other night, I went and stayed with friends Helen and Jimmy. It was a good thing since the fog was terrible. It is around a 15 minute drive from the airport to my friend's house, and there were sections of the drive where I couldn't see more than 50 feet.

The next morning, Helen and I went snowshoeing. It was a pleasant day and a great little excursion.  We snowshoed along a creek, where I took these first few photos.

Then as we headed away from the creek, we spotted this Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus).  It is the largest woodpecker found in the U.S., inhabiting deciduous forests in eastern North America, the Great Lakes, the boreal forests of Canada, and parts of the Pacific coast.

Adults are 40 to 49 centimetres (16 to 19 in) long, and weigh 250 to 350 grams (8.8 to 12 oz). They are mainly black with a red crest, and have a white line down the sides of the throat. They show white on the wings in flight. Adult males have a red line from the bill to the throat, in adult females these are black.

These birds mainly eat insects, especially carpenter ants and wood-boring beetle larvae. They also eat fruits, nuts, and berries, including poison ivy berries. They often chip out large and roughly rectangular holes in trees while searching out insects. Pileated Woodpeckers raise their young every year in a hole in a tree. In April the hole made by the male attracts a female for mating and raising their young. Once the brood is raised, the Pileated Woodpeckers abandon the hole and will not use it the next year. When abandoned, these holes—made similarly by all woodpeckers—provide good homes in future years for many forest song birds. Ecologically, the entire woodpecker family is important to the well being of many other bird species. A Pileated Woodpecker pair stays together on its territory all year round. It will defend the territory in all seasons, but will tolerate floaters during the winter.

Nearby we spotted this tree that has had its bark stripped off.

In Marquette it was a beautiful sunny day.

On my drive back to Grand Marais, I took this shot of shore ice on a Lake Superior beach.

Then I stopped at Scott Falls, located a few miles west of Munising.

As I made the turn on M77 toward Grand Marais, I spotted the lake-effect clouds and realized I would be loosing the sunshine.

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