01-02-2020 Outdoors

While watching the birds and squirrels eat on our seed logs, the naturalists observed a visitor that brings new meaning to the word “birdfeeder.” A Sharp-shinned Hawk had swooped in hoping to grab a snack of a tasty Tufted Titmouse or a Black-capped Chickadee. The gray squirrel, too large to become a meal, chased the intruder away. Many people will see this species or Cooper’s Hawks their slightly larger cousin hanging around their bird-feeding stations this winter. If you only get a quick glance, it may be difficult to distinguish between the two Accipiter species (hawks that feed primarily on birds). Train yourself to look for these signs. The Sharp-shinned is smaller (about the size of that squirrel), has stick-like legs and its tail has a square tip with a narrow white band. The Cooper’s Hawk is larger, has stout legs, and its tail is longer and rounded with a wide white band.

The nature center building will be closed on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, but the trails will remain open. Participate in a scavenger hunt for the whole family during business hours until Jan. 5 on the nature center trails. Sign up for cross-country ski beginner lessons for adults on Saturday, Jan. 11, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Enjoy the winter with cross-country skiing. Adult fee is $10 for two-hour lesson and $5 for equipment rental. Please call 269-927-4832 to register.


Mother Nature cannot make up her mind if it is going to be winter or late fall, with constant changing weather patterns. Fishing action is light as most anglers are waiting for ice, have put up their boats for winter or the weather keeps them at bay.

Ellinee Bait & Tackle on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reported a few anglers doing some shore fishing and catching panfish for their efforts. There has been a little ice in the Van Auken channels that was fishable and Lake of the Woods had some fishable ice also local farm ponds. Just remember to be extra careful as the weather has been odd enough lately to make going on the first ice dangerous.

Catch-and-keep bass season closed on January 1, but the catch-and-release bass season is still open.

Eager for the chance to catch one of Michigan’s most unique fish? The wait will soon be over. The lake sturgeon season on Black Lake, in Cheboygan County, begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday, February 1, so make sure your license and registration are in order. Registration is required to participate in this season.

The total 2020 season allocation on Black Lake is seven lake sturgeons to be taken. However, to reduce the risk of exceeding this limit, officials will close the season when one of two scenarios occurs: the sixth fish is harvested or five fish have been harvested at the end of any fishing day.

Daily season fishing hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The season will either end at 2 p.m. Wednesday, February 5 or when one of the above scenarios is met, at which point the DNR personnel on the ice will immediately notify anglers to stop fishing for lake sturgeon.

Anglers are highly encouraged to take part in the early registration on Friday, Jan. 31 but those unable to do so may register the next day. Morning registration begins at 7 a.m. each day of the season. If you have questions, contact Tim Cwalinski at 989-732-3541, ext. 5072.

High water levels force continued dredging at Grand Traverse Harbor in Keweenaw County. Copper mine tailings, (stamp sands), over the past 100 years have been moved by wind and waves south down the shoreline for roughly five miles. The sand is inundating natural sand beach areas and threatening to cover spawning habitat and recruitment areas important to Lake Superior whitefish and lake trout in and around Buffalo Reef.

Over the summertime, workers cleared the harbor of the dark-colored stamp sands, but late season fall storms – coupled with high water levels on Lake Superior – have worked in concert to again choke the waterway.

The dredging efforts are part of a wider strategy to address the issue. In addition to the dredging, crews have worked to move the stamp sand pile at the original deposit site back from the shoreline at Gay. For more information, visit Michigan.gov/BuffaloReef.