Tuesday, April 27, 2010

School Education Classes Ready to Roll!

Each spring and fall, school classes from a 4-county area travel to Gahagan Preserve for outdoor nature classes put on by the our educator, Tom Dale. Beginning next week, the sounds of the children will be added to those of the wildlife as Tom has them dipping nets into the pond, searching for critters and be part of nature.

Monday, April 26, 2010

May is for the Birds at Gahagan!

Gahagan's May programs will feature the birds.

Tuesday, May 4 join us for the Sky Dance of the Woodcock. we meet at the cabin at 8 PM and wander to a nearby field hoping to find the Wookcock during its spring mating ritual. RSVP at info@GahaganNature.org.

Tom Dale, our environmental educator, hosts a walking tour of the Gahagan Preserve Friday, May 14 as part of the Kirtland's Warbler Wildlife Festival. Walk starts at 5PM at the cabin. Its about more than birds but the festival gets its name from one.

On Tuesday, May 18, rise early and meet our expert birders, Joanne and Jack Bouck at Tawas Point State Park near Tawas City on the Lake Huron coast. Be there by 9AM. The point is a noted flyway for migratory birds and birders flock there as well at this time of year. A Michigan State Park vehicle permit is requied for entry.

MSU Extension Forest Educator Russell Kidd will take a you on a tree identification walk through Gahagan's majestic pines and cedars on Saturday, May 22 from 10AM to noon. Well we have a lot of other varieties as well. Let Russell clue you in on who is whom and answer your questions about trees. Okay, this isn't about birds but they do live in, feed off and enjoy them too!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thanks to the Clean-up Crew!

Yesterday was our annul clean-up of the grounds and buildings at the Gahagan Preserve. Bob Tupper, Rich Silverman and Sue Mires rafed around the cabin. Sue along with Brian Hutchins mopped the cabin floors. Bobbie Werle cleaned chairs and rid the cabin of the dust. The windows are see-through again thanks to Tracy Bozworth. Mark Bozworth tidied the garage. Jeremy Jones , Mark and Brian set the donation pipe in the ground. Boardwalk repairs were made by Jeremy, Rich, Mark and Brian. Julie Borak did a host of things.
On previous days, Lori Silk raked and readied the butterfly garden and Jack Bouck cleared the debris from the asphalt trail and boardwalks.
Thanks to everyone that chipped in.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spring Clean-up at the Cabin, Saturday

Please join us when we do the spring cleaning at the Gahagan cabin Saturday, April 24 at 9AM. we will probably go until 1 or 2 PM. Bring some gloves, a rake and a smile. We'll have it spruced up for the upcomming school environmental classes, the trails will be wheelable for wheelchairs, the cabin will be dust free and the place will look loved.

Please pitch in and help.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Shade Gardening. Thursday

Many of us in the Roscommon area have lots of shade from the tall pines, oak and maples that are abundant around here. Do you want a successful garden in that shade? Come to the cabin Thursday, April 22 at 7 pm. Eleanor Washburn, master gardener and Kirtland Garden Club member will discuss plants that will thrive in the shade.

For more information on this and other Gahagan events visit our website. http://www.gahagannature.org/.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What's That Bird? Tuesday

Jack and Joanne Bouck, Gahagan's birding couple will teach you how to identify mystery birds at the first of this year's Gahagan public events. Determine who's who on the branch , ground or in flight - it will make birding more satisfying. see you at the cabin Tuesday April 20 at 7 pm.

For more information on this and other Gahagan events visit our website. http://www.gahagannature.org/.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Piping Plover

The Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) is an endangered species that nests along sand and gravel beaches. You might see them skittering along the beach where the waves wash to shore. They find food along this wash zone; usually insects or small crustaceans. Their population is estimated as less than ten thousand. A sparrow-sized bird, there are several Great Lakes beach locations in Michigan where they can easily be seen. Platte Bay and river mouth in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a good choice. So is Wilderness State Park west of Mackinaw City. Nesting areas, found in the gravel and small stones near the shoreline, are protected and often fenced off during the summer nesting period. Next time you visit one of these areas watch for the small bird running along the beach! This one was photographed with a partner last Saturday along Platte Bay.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cat Tales

Our educator Tom Dale has been touring area schools this spring presenting his program Cat Tales. It is Gahagan's annual in school environmental education project titled the visiting naturalist partnered with Kirtland Community College and the Kirtland Warbler Wildlife Festival. Here is part of what he offered to the school children. You can see the program this summer as well at Gahagan's Family Night, July 22, 7 PM.
Imagine a cat that is big enough to swallow your head in one bite! Such a cat once roamed NorthAmerica. Fossils found in Florida, Alaska and most especially California’s Rancho La Brea Tar Pits document Panthera leo atrox, the American lion. The replica skull pictured here is in our traveling collection and we like to save it for last. After demonstratingbobcat, lynx and cougar skulls, as well as a “saber” of the famous saber toothed cat, the American lion skull always produces excited sounds from the audience, and still more excitement is heard when a child’s head is completely “consumed” inside those dreadful jaws!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wildflowers Coming Up

Julie Borak has done a nice job planting wildflowers at the parking lot entrance. That plus the butterfly garden will bring some color to the cabin. It will be a few weeks before there is a big variety of blooms. Here is how the butterfly garden looks this week - greening up - but nothing just yet. Keep you posted.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Accessible Trail

The wheelchair accessible loop at Gahagan meaders below tall pines, through wetlands and out to Tank Creek. There are several interpretive signs along the way.
From yesterday: vulture

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What's That Bird?

Join Gahagan memebers Joanne and Jack Bouck at the cabin Tuesday April 20 7 PM for their presentation about bird identification. They will help you to determine bird species using 5 particular bird features. That's only one week away - plan on it!
So what bird is this seen passing over the Gahagan gazebo on Monday? Answer tomorrow.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Snow in the Air

Colder - more like winter - temeperatures have returned. I little of snow gathered on the ground this morning at the cabin. The warmth of the ground had all but a trace melted by noon. Is it the last struggle shown by winter this year? Looks like a warm up is only a short time away.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Of Rain and Winter

The last few days have brought the first real moisture to Gahagan Preserve is some time. The pond was so low and had the look of August, not April. The heavy recent rains has it rising although it is still not up to normal. Tank Creek is again flowing at a spring clip.

Today, the snow was falling but it did not stick. There were sounds of grouse drumming, pileated woodpeckers rapping the trees and chickadees ordering "cheese-burgers." There are signs of greening, but the immense tree cover of the preserve has held back the green compared to nearby open fields.

Remember, there is always more information at http://www.gahagannature.org/

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Gidden Garden

The butterfly garden in front of Marguerite's cabin is starting to grow the first leaves. Watch it as the season progresses. The plants will rise and thicken. The flowers will atrrack the butterflies and hummingbirds. Come sit on a bench and watch the action. It is a memorial gift dedicated to Jane Gidden.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Water Striders

The water striders are plentiful on the Gahagan pond right now. From the family Gerridae, these sleek insects glide on top of the water using water's surface tension to counteract gravity. They don't live in the trees! Find three of them in the photo's reflected canopy at the pond yesterday.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Maples Getting Ready

Buds are appearing a so early this year. The maples, lilacs and some aspen are leading the way. Here is the state of the buds on a Roscommon maple tree yesterday.

Early Spring Continues - or is it summer?

The fire danger continues - be careful!

The maples are starting to bud.

The spring peepers are calling, Visit the pond and wetlands around Gahagan to hear their voices.

Two sand hill cranes whistled by yesterday winging their way to the north.

Get out this weekend and watch and listen as the new year begins.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Its Forest Fire Season

For the upper Midwest, spring is forest fire season. This year it has come early and fast. Normally around the Roscommon area you would expect very high and extreme fire weather to arrive in the first few weeks of May. Today the forecast calls for temps in the 80's, no rain and high winds ... and this follows days of dry, sunny warm weather. The woods are ripe for a large, devastating fire - a month ahead of time. This is peculiar, although not unprecedented. It might be a foreshadowing of what is to come as the earth continues to follow a warming trend that is changing our weather patterns and melting our glaciers and ice packs.
Why does the spring bring this concern in Michigan? Unlike arid areas, we usually have adequate moisture during a year's period in this State. In the spring, the vegetation hasn't greened, making it dry. When there has been enough warmth for the trees and plants to leaf out - usually late May - the fire danger generally passes for a while. Plants "pump" water from the ground when this green-up occurs and that not only makes them harder to burn but if they do burn, it is less intense. Of course, that is why you want to use dry wood in the fireplace. Green-up also increases the relative humidity of the air; the more moisture in the air, the less intense a fire.
Weather-wise, the upper Great Lakes usually get some beautiful clear-sky days in spring. We have had quite a few this year. These high pressure systems have little humidity, often have high winds and can sit over us for several days. They dry out the vegetation even more. This is what we have been experiencing the last few weeks. We have experienced it earlier than normal.
The most unusual aspect of this spring has been that whole state lost its snow and dried out at the same time. Usually spring weather begins in the lower portion of the State and creeps northward over a several week period. How does that affect the fire danger? The Department of Natural Resources and Environment, which is responsible for forest fire control, has only so much staff and equipment. They shift these resources with the fire season. Normally, only one or two parts of the State are a trouble spot at a time. Not this year! We could have major fires start in the south of Michigan or the far reaches of the Upper Peninsula today. The fire fighters are stretched and cannot be pre-placed at the most likely region for a fire start – everywhere it might be likely. Also, there are not enough of them to be at several major events at the same time.
In Michigan, almost every forest fire is started by man. Mostly it is from burning leaves or debris. Sometimes it is sparks from equipment such as chain saws or ORV's. Be careful today. It takes little time for a fire in today's weather to consume your house, reach your neighbors or burn thousands of acres of forest land.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April's "Pine Whispers"

Available today and through the rest of April is the next installment of Marguerite Gahagan's Pine Whispers. These are reprints of her North Woods Call columns from the 1960's. Join us as we remember what was happening outside the cabin in April fifty years ago. To view our April selection go to http://www.gahagannature.org/ and click on Pine Whispers in the top menu. We'll add a new one on May 1.