US, Michigan: Seney National Wildlife Refuge

Around Huron Lake in 8 days: Seney National Wildlife Refuge

Even though we wanted to be at the Refuge entrance before sunrise, we were not able to be there. We were wondering if the late barbeque we had the night before or the stars I couldn’t stop gazing at in the middle of the night had something to do with this. Anyway, with a fresh enthusiasm we got to the Refuge gate around 10 am, an hour drive from Munising, where our host was living. The late August sun was up in the sky, and I knew the wildlife was well hidden at that late hour of the morning. The refuge is vast, and has several trails for hikers, or bikers, and needs a lot of time to have it explored. Since we were late already, we decided to have only the drive-through ride, with few stops along the way.

Seney one quiet and calm pond

Seney National Wildlife Refuge, is located in the East-Central portion of Michigan UP, halfway between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. Established in 1935 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife, the refuge is a land of marshes, bogs, swamps and forests. The 95,238 acres refuge encompass the 25,150 acre Seney Wilderness Area, which contains the Strangmoor Bog National Natural Landmark. Nearly two-third of the refuge is basically a wetland, and a little paradise for fowls.

Seney Refuge wildlife paradise
The trumpeter swan is the biggest and heaviest North American water bird, and largest existent species of waterfowl, with a wingspan that might exceed 3 m. The black bill distinguish the trumpeter swan from other species.

Trumpeter swans beautiful show

Double crested cormorant
Double crested cormorant sun bathing in the shallow water. They have less preen oil than other birds, so they need to dry out more than other birds after fishing.

After the forests have been heavily exploited more than 100 years ago, and the early 20th century entrepreneurs gave up the attempt to have it as farmland, much of these lands have been abandoned for unpaid property taxes.

Seney wetland

During the 30’s depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps rebuilt and expanded the abandoned wetland drains, developing Seney area for wildlife.

Seney Foundation for the future

Restoration included an intricate system of dikes, water control structures, canals and roads, and the system currently has 26 major pools on over 7,000 acres of open water, great home for all kind of birds and wildlife.

Seney Refuge

Birders can check this list with birds found at the refuge:

https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/Region_3/NWRS/Zone_2/Seney_Complex/Seney/Sections/Newsletters/SNY_Birds.pdf

Hungry Green-winged Teals
Green-winged teal have an extensive wintering range, having been recorded as far north as Alaska and Newfoundland and as far south as northern South America.
Common loon youngster - its mother has just dived under the water
Common loon youngster – its mother has just dived under the water.
Common loon
Common loons normally dive up to 10 m, but have been recorded to dive up to 70 m, with an average of 42 min underwater. But taking a rest in this photo.

Wildlife lovers can check this list if interested for some particular species:

https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/Region_3/NWRS/Zone_2/Seney_Complex/Seney/Sections/Newsletters/SNY_animal_checklist.pdf

Muskrat
Muskrats are excellent swimmers, thanks to their webbed back feet, laterally flattened tails, and the ability to hold their breath underwater for 15-20 minutes. They can swim backwards and forwards.

The seven mile drive-through one way, open May 15 to October from dawn to dusk takes visitors through wetlands and forests. Three observation decks and numerous pools make this drive a great wildlife watching opportunity.

Trumpeter swan lovely pair
Trumpeter swans are monogamous and mate for life.

Feeding in pair, swiming in pair

Trumpeter swan incredible long neck

The Fishing Loop is an optional 3.5 mile we have added to our 7 mile Marshland Wildlife Drive.  Although the Fishing Loop bypasses about 1 mile of the Marshland Wildlife Drive, it actually offers a more diverse view of the landscape.

Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebes are fairly poor fliers and typically stay on the water. The Latin genus name for “grebe” means “feet at the buttocks”—an apt descriptor for these birds, whose feet are indeed located near their rear ends. The Pied-billed Grebe eats large quantities of its own feathers. Feathers may at times fill up more than half of a grebe’s stomach.

The Visitor centre is open 9 to 5, May to October, while the refuge is open daily from dawn until dusk, at no charge. I think the best time to visit the refuge remains at dawn, and probably we will return one day better prepared to do the trails in the park.

A flock of ring necked ducks
Ring-necked Ducks feed by diving underwater, rather than by tipping up, as other ducks do. The female ducks may remain with young until they are old enough to fly, unlike most ducks.
Northern flicker
Northern flickers are the only woodpeckers that frequently feed on the ground, especially after a rain, rather than climbing up the trunks of the trees.
Sandhill crane
Sandhill cranes have one of the longest fossil histories of any extant bird: the oldest Sandhill crane fossil is about 2.5 million years old.

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