Stuck Between Two Places

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Yard bird species #42 welcomed me back to our Phoenix yard. He’s been around a few times so I hope he will stick around. He seems to enjoy the dining choices.

I’m glad to be back home but I feel like I’m in a fog and sort of half in Indiana and half here. Sometimes when I wake up, I can’t figure out where I am. So far my mom is doing pretty well and has more help at home but she’s quite elderly. I mean, I’m technically elderly now, too, so she really is and it’s worrisome. I’m trying to get back in my routine but it’s coming very slowly.


Brown-headed Cowbird, juvenile

Nice to see my familiar birds again, though. It’s excruciatingly hot and humid here. We’re in our monsoon season so I have yet to get back out birding other than occasionally sitting in the yard briefly.

Curve-billed Thrasher

House Finches

Anna’s Hummingbird, male

Black-chinned Hummingbird, female

Northern Mockingbird (sorry, gecko)

We haven’t gone on any of our day trips yet and I would really like to go up north but, with the monsoons, it’s not always good to be out driving in the late afternoons so I don’t know when we will go somewhere…soon, I hope.

Well, because of my computer crashing while I was back in Indiana and needing to get a new one, I temporarily had no access to all of my photos. I got the files restored from my old hard drive so here are a few more photos from Indiana that I couldn’t post earlier.

Darden Bridge on the St. Joseph River

Eastern Chipmunk (destructive little beasts)

Red-bellied Woodpeckers

Fox Squirrels

American Robin, juvenile

Blue Jay

 

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Adios, Midwest!

The mighty and muddy St. Joe River

The St. Joseph River is approximately 206 miles long, zigzagging through southern Michigan and northern Indiana, draining a primarily rural farming area into the watershed of Lake Michigan. You really can’t drive very far without continually crossing over it.

So I am now back home again in Arizona, out of Indiana, hoping that all will be well with my mother for quite awhile, for her sake as well as mine. These first few photos were taken at St. Patrick’s County Park in South Bend, IN. It’s really a beautiful park.

Eastern Bluebird, juvenileRed-Winged Blackbird, femaleWhite-breasted Nuthatch

Great Blue Heron

I got 7 lifer birds total while back there. Some are in my last post. Some are in neither post as I either got no photos or blurry photos. Those ones are Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Baltimore Oriole, and American Goldfinch (seen several times with no photos). Seven isn’t that great for 5 weeks but, considering I was only out in nature for about a total of 8 hours, pretty good. If I had spent more time and had my birding lens with me, it would have been awesome, I’m sure, but I had many other things to do on this trip. I did not get my target Pileated Woodpecker nor the fairly common Red-headed Woodpecker. Someday…

One day, a friend, Judy, and I went to Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve in Niles, MI. What a beautiful place. The birding was slow and we got caught in a downpour about 2 hours in but it was lovely before that.


This stick structure was awesome. At the time, we saw no signage so did not know what it was made from but I have since found out that the artist is Patrick Dougherty and the sticks are willow twigs. This piece is called Take Five and was done in 2014. Here is more info on it.

This park is also on the St. Joe River and had some creeks draining into it.

They have had a very wet spring and summer (so far) back there so everything is very lush but we also saw many big trees down.

Jeremiah (he had many friends)

There was a bird viewing area and that is where I saw the lifer hummingbird mentioned earlier. Here are a few photos taken there, through glass that was very reflective on a cloudy day, so they look a little funky.

Blue JayWhite-breasted NuthatchRose-breasted Grosbeak, femaleBlack-capped Chickadee

Many, many flowers there were being visited by many, many bumble bees.

The other places I visited while back there, with photos in my last post, were Rum Village Park and Nature Center in South Bend, IN, and Madeline Bertrand County Park in Niles, MI.

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Three of Four Seasons

This is the Darden Road Bridge in South Bend, Indiana, over the St. Joseph River. The only known truss bridge in the county, this bridge is noted for its multi-span length and unusual deck placement. It was built in 1884 by P. E. Lane of Chicago, Illinois. I came upon it by accident and it was really pretty.

I just got back from there; my 95 year old mother was in Rehab. She’s fine now and will be released in a couple days. I didn’t have much time for birding, understandably, nor did I take my birding lens but, even so, I got 5 lifers!

These first few photos were taken at St. Patrick’s County Park, also on the river.

Black-capped Chickadee

There is a Bald Eagle nest at this park that has been inhabited for the last couple of years. The eagles took over an existing Red-tailed Hawk nest (I didn’t know they did that). Below is the nest.

And my mom and I saw one of the eagles in a nearby tree! Wish I had my birding lens for that. Here’s their Bald Eagle Live Cam.

On another day, I went to Madeline Bertrand County Park in nearby Niles, Michigan, and that’s where I got 4 lifers in less than an hour! These are birds we don’t see in Arizona.

White-breasted Nuthatch

Tufted Titmouse

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Dark-eyed Junco, Slate-colored

I also saw a beautiful Blue Jay but the photos are pretty blurry.

Northern Cardinal, Indiana State Bird

We have Great-tailed Grackles in AZ but in Indiana, they have these guys all over the place (my 5th lifer):

Common Grackle

The robins were in abundance everywhere, pudgy little things.

American Robin

In the 2 weeks I was there, I experienced all the seasons but summer. The temperatures ranged from 19 to about 65. We had rain, snow, sleet, hail (golf ball-sized), tornados all around us, and a little sun. I prefer Arizona’s 2 seasons, beautiful and hot. I’m fortunate it was “mild” while I was there, for the most part. Bye, snow.

Silver Beach

Umbrellas 1

SJLHs 2

Both Piers

These are the St. Joseph Lighthouses on Silver Beach in St. Joseph, Michigan. The North Pier has 2 lighthouses, both over 100 years old, but which have replaced previous lighthouses prior to that. The South Pier, which is the one I was on, has a conduit light at the end, not in a lighthouse, but in a little lookout tower.

SJLH

The city of St. Joe now owns the lights and they are fully operational, all 3 of them. They were renovated in 2015 for over $1 million. The piers at St. Joseph and Grand Haven are the only ones on the Great Lakes that retain their range lights and catwalks. The St. Joseph Pier Lights were featured on a postage stamp issued in 1995.

SJLH 2

Lighthouses fascinate me. You can read more about the history of these lights and see what the lighthouses look like in the winter here.

SJLH 1

Coming In

Jetski

Pier Mural

Big M

Work Hard

Friends 2

This is the South Pier, where the conduit light is located, at the top of the pole above. You can see that the pier has no fencing so you have to be careful to not be swept away when the waters are rough. It happens a few times a year when people are careless or overly daring.

Waves on Pier

South Pier

Looking back to land from the end of the South Pier. The North Pier is to the left.

Triangle Trees

RB GullRing-billed Gull

No Swimming

RB Gull 2

Atlantic Look

Umbrellas 2

If I ever wanted to live in the midwest again (and I don’t), it would be in St. Joe. But, next best thing, they have a livestream going all the time so I can check out the lighthouses any time, day or night. I mostly look forward to nice Arizona winter days in the 70s, looking at the ice-covered lighthouses. You can see the livestream here.

I blogged about St. Joe a few years ago here.

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Potato Creek State Park

Forest Path 2

Cove

A variety of natural habitats await the visitor to Potato Creek State Park in northwest Indiana including the 327 acre Worster Lake, old fields, mature woodlands, restored prairies, and diverse wetlands. I know there were a ton of birds there but I was with my 95 year old mother so my opportunities for birding were limited (plus I didn’t take my birding lens back there).

I did get 3 lifers relatively easily so I can imagine what a few hours there would yield.

Chickadee

Chickadee 2Black-capped Chickadee

Chipping Sparrow_edited-1

Chipping 2Chipping Sparrow

CrowAmerican Crow

Cowbird 1Brown-headed Cowbird, young

Skiers Trail

Forest Path

Trail Erosion 2

Trail Erosion

It rained 8 inches the day I got to Indiana so there was much flooding in many places. The park suffered damage to some of the trails and the lake was closed.

SwallowtailTiger Swallowtail

Green DflyEastern Pondhawk

No Vehicles

Lush

It was very lush, very humid, and pretty buggy. I’d forgotten that feeling of something cold and slimy flying right into your eye that I used to experience in midwest summers in the woods.

Years ago, I wrote about this same place.