On Friday, May 16th, we left for the long, Victoria Day Weekend, to open the cabin and see how it fared over the winter. From our house in Strathroy, it took 3 1/2 hours to reach our destination. We left Strathroy around 1:30 pm. The weather forecast was promising and we were hoping for a good weekend.
The cabin is stocked with a good supply of mosquito repellant. And we certainly put it to use. The mosquitoes were big, relentless and were out in swarms each evening and each morning. Not so bad during the afternoon. It was evident that the area had recently received a lot of rain. Fields and ditches were flooded.
The Cedar River, which borders our property, was swollen and dark with silt. This always happens after a rain. After a day or two without rain, the river clears up nicely so that the sandy bottom is clearly visible.
Property is pretty inexpensive in this part of Michigan. And a lot of it is for sale. The cabin is in Clare County and this county has the second lowest per capita income of all the counties in Michigan. While out driving around the countryside, many homes can be seen that are in pretty rough condition. And in a grocery store, people-watching can be very interesting. There are some pretty rough-looking people to be found there. Yet buying groceries in Gladwin or Harrision (the two closest towns with sizable grocery stores) is not cheap. These chain stores are a real rip-off. We usually only buy what immediate groceries we need in these stores and drive in to Mt. Pleasant to shop at Meijers, for most of our grocery needs In Mt. Pleasant, we also stopped at Culver’s for lunch and at Menard’s to pick up some bird seed, a new feeder and a bird house.
On Saturday afternoon, I started cutting the grass. It was not as long as I had expected, so cutting was not difficult. My lawn mower only clogged up once. I think that is a new record. The leaves in the trees were not as far along as at home in Strathroy. This is really not surprising as the cabin is further north.
Saturday evening, while sitting around outside, keeping the mosquitoes at bay, we noticed a Ruffed Grouse fly up into one of the Hemlock Trees near the cabin. It landed about eye level, approx. 20 ft in front of us. And even though it was dusk, the bird was clearly visible, even better with my binoculars. This is the first time that I have seen a Ruffed Grouse on the cabin property. They are quite a few in the area, however, as their drumming can be heard often in spring. I even once saw one beating its wings on an old log, years ago.
I am always listening and watching for birdlife while at the cabin. Each morning and evening, I go for walks down the road. The river runs along beside the road. There is property nearby (used to belong to my uncle and now belongs to my cousin) with some old logging trails. I usually make at least one jaunt along this old trails.
I generally hear Sandhill Cranes calling off in the distance in the morning and in the evening I generally hear the sounds of the flight display of American Woodcock. A Belted Kingfisher was heard a couple of times as it flew along the river. Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker and Northern Flicker were seen in the trees around the cabin. I heard an Eastern Wood-Pewee calling while I was out walking on my cousins property.
I heard Alder Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe and Great Crested Flycatcher calling near the cabin. A pair of Common Raven were seen twice, soaring and calling high above. There was a pair of Tufted Titmouse. Veery, Gray Catbird and Brown Thrasher all nest in the area and were easily seen.
I saw and heard eight different warblers: Ovenbird, Golden-winged Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Pine Warbler. I counted at least 6 different Golden-wings on my walk Saturday morning down to the corner and back. They sing all day long. Habitat around the cabin must be perfect for them. And Pine Warblers nest in the pines surrounding the cabin.
The one oddity was the total lack of House Wren. They are always around the cabin and can be heard singing all over the place. But not this weekend. I came up empty on House Wren and this seems really surprising.
Today (Tuesday), the weather turned. A cold front came in as forecast. We packed up early this morning and headed home. Pulled into the driveway at 1:30 pm.