Saturday, July 21, 2012

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge

We had one day of a good soaking rain this past week and fortunately it brought our temperatures down to the mid eighties.  Consequently we found two days of wonderful weather to do some hiking and biking.  On Friday we visited the wildlife refuge, located just outside of Saginaw.  It is a beautiful complex of river wetlands and backwater draining from the Flint, Tittabawassee, Shiawassee, and Cass Rivers.  We first did a driving tour of the flats, and were quite surprised to see a wide variety of water birds. I don't believe we have seen so many egrets in one place, and it seemed that there was always one great blue heron flying over and around us, or sitting in the wetlands.
We also saw around 100 sandhill cranes hanging out in a marshy field. A bald eagle flew overhead and, also while on our drive, we stepped out on an observation platform just in time to watch a tern catch his meal.   He certainly performed some interesting aerial maneuvers, as swooping and hovering, before he plucked a fish out of the water.  After the drive through the refuge we took a five mile hike which brought us into forest glens, alongside the wetlands and by the Ferguson Bayou.  We heard bull frogs, saw a few muskrats, and a doe with her two babies.  Walking in the forest was pleasantly cool with a light breeze blowing.
We noticed that the water levels are down in the wetlands. Still, we found that the refuge has many places where the plants and weeds are quick thick- certainly a wonderful habitat for deer!  We also saw deer on Saturday when we took a bike ride along the Flint River Trail.  Its path goes by Mott Lake and along the Flint River.  We stopped at Stepping Stone Falls, which is a spillway that impounds Mott Lake.

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