We headed out to Magee Marsh this morning (the last day of the Biggest Week in American Birding) to show our non-birding friends what all the birding fuss is about.
The Murtaughs had enthusiastically purchased binoculars for the occasion and dressed to blend in.
It wasn't as busy as we had feared - the parking lots were about half full - but it was crowed enough for them to get a good taste of the birding world.
It wasn't the best day for birding, but not bad either: Warbling Vireos, Prothonotary, Black-throated Blue, Blackburnian, Blackpoll, Yellow, and Canada Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, a Grey-cheeked Thrush and a particularly cooperative Great-horned Owl
The highlight of the day for me, though, was a rare Blanding's Turtle. This phone shot is the best I could do, since I had decided to swap my camera for a birding book (sacrificing host or knucklehead; you decide). The turtle is on the log just below the foliage towards the top of the photo. You can just make out the bright yellow throat.
Blanding's Turtles spend most of their time in wetlands, but nest in sandy areas and so are restricted to areas like the great lakes. They are a regular topic at the annual Oak Openings Research Symposium where we plant monitors are regularly encouraged to look for them. They were once so common that one of the ponds in Oak Openings Metropark is named Blanding's Pond. This is the first one I have seen.
He gave us quite a show by diving in the water and coming up with something in his mouth. He was having a hard time swallowing whatever it was, so leaned off the log onto a lily pad and was able to spit out the object and grab it again in a way that allowed him to swallow it. After a short rest he plopped into the water.