Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Kingfisher on flagpole.
Washington Island, Wisconsin -

Harbor ice is now about 60% gone from the surface of Detroit Harbor, and on the route very little ice has been encountered in the past week.

Those piles of ice along the shore of Plum Island? Still there, shrunk slightly by Sunday's rain.   Ice could remain as late as Memorial Weekend,  given the density of the ice.

We've seen many more birds lately.  In Sunday morning's rain the Kingfisher (we assume its the same one as other years) sat on tall waterfront perches.  Since only the shallowest parts of the harbor were ice free, this bird's hovering and diving for food was limited.

Monday, a great white egret showed up, and blackbirds that enjoy being among the cattails.

All of this comes as a reminder to remind readers that the 8th Annual Door Islands Bird Festival is coming up very soon, May 30 - June 1, 2014.  A copy of the flyer and a registration form appear below.  Look up the website for additional details.

This event was well received by those who've previously joined Sandy Peterson, Melody Walsh, Char Rutledge and other Island birding experts.  They enjoy leading groups to their favorite, productive birding spots on Washington and Rock Islands.  (And in certain years, Plum Island.)

The Bird Festival idea originated with Sandy Peterson, and she's followed up the initial year with excellent planning for day events, plus an evening banquet where there is always an expert presenting a related topic of interest.

Interested birders are asked to register prior to May 16th.  Send your check and registration to:  Island Birding Inc.
PO Box 607
Stoughton, WI  53589
For more details and registration form, go to:             www.islandbirdfest.org

Ice shoves

While still on the topic of birds, I spotted an eagle, a younger one in dark feathers, sitting on one of the highest points of the ice piled on Plum Island yesterday.    The day was, once again, dark and gloomy, so the ice didn't appear as blue as it might with sunlight illuminating the large pieces.

For a number of days, since ice pushed back into the bay on a southerly wind, the ferry route has changed its route to the west side of Plum Island, first time since way back in early December.  All the better for passengers to view the ice shoves.

Reading Great Lakes shipping news on the BoatNerd website gives you an instant feel for what is happening around the upper Great Lakes regarding the difficulty of ice breaking and ship movement.  The name of the game so far has been patience, waiting for available ice breakers to arrive on scene to open up tracks, or to break out harbors that have been ice-bound all winter.  Some of the worst conditions have been on the St. Mary's River and on Lake Superior.

So far, other than holding in for weather one morning a week ago, the Arni J. Richter continues to make excellent crossing time.  Conditions are also excellent for the continuation of the dredging project in the Detroit Harbor Channel.

-  Dick Purinton

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