Juvie Bald Eagle

We’re getting into the single digits here on Long Lake. And I headed into last summer’s photos to bump up the lake and tone down the knitting for this post.

This summer we saw this juvenile bald eagle a number of times and Steve got some great shots.

We are confident it’s a young bald eagle, but please let me know if you think our ID is off. Here’s another view of his (or her) not-so-national-symbol-looking self.

Bald Eagles take a long time to put their majestic on full display. Between the ages of one and four years they look so little like their parents that they’re sometimes mistaken for Golden Eagles. Their flight feathers and tail feathers are longer than their parents’ and that can make them look even larger than mom or pop.

Juveniles, also called subadults, typically have dark feathers, a dark to dirty yellow bill, with gray to slightly yellow eyes. When a bird is sexually mature, its distinctive bright yellow bill, white head, and yellow eyes appear.

We hope that this young one will make a permanent home on Long Lake.

Finally, the first ice forms

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Here’s Long Lake earlier this first week of December. A bit of snow and not one bit of ice. Not one bit. We could have been out kayaking to Ghost Bay if we wanted to take cold-weather precautions. The latest in the year we’ve been on the water was one Thanksgiving.

But this morning, December 9th, the ice is finally starting to form on the lake’s edges. It’s good to see.

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Long Lake in late fall

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It was just after dawn. A light mist of rain was falling. A very rare sunrise rainbow appeared. Instead of the familiar red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, this rainbow was just red. Just red. I had no idea rainbows could be just red.

Wikipedia says that the light at sunrise or sunset can scatter the shorter blue and green wavelengths. If it is also raining, the rain can scatter the shorter wavelengths also. The result is this stunning monochrome red rainbow. If you look very closely on the upper left, you will even see a faint secondary rainbow. Here’s a more scientific explanation.

This beauty was on my bucket list and I didn’t even know it.

There has been some very mild weather this fall. Here’s a Ghost Bay paddle, likely my last of the season, on November 5th.

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Life here is good.

It’s fall now

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Pulling in the docks. Pulling out the boats. Getting the house ready for winter. Laying in a supply of wood for the fireplace. Steve caught this water fowl in a pose that all the Long Lakers can relate to. Where did this summer go anyway? Wasn’t it just the 4th of July?

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But there’s no mistaking it. It’s late fall and pretty soon we’ll be seeing Long Lake iced over. For now, we enjoy the morning mist over the lake and the spicy colors of our hardwoods.

We found this tiny snapper in our lawn a few weeks ago.

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Steve picked him up from the lawn and set him near the water’s edge. He watched him slip into the lake. A baby ancient.

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We hope he makes it.

And the fishing continues. At least for the diehards, like Jeff.

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Wild edges and flowers

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Our place is in one of bays on the east side of the upper part of the lake. We’ve been there for ten years now. This is the first year we’ve noticed some erosion at the water’s edge. At first we thought it might be a muskrat. Actually it might be. But it also seems to be that speedboats and jet skis come into the bay and create wakes a lot more than they used to.

We decided to try a natural border at the water’s edge to see if maybe some hardy grasses and whatever popped up might help. The alternative, a rocky divide or a breakwall requires permits. A true natural shoreline is a wonderful goal and we might try it in the future. Check out the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership. But there’s a neatnik in our family and she might have a hard time leaving everything all natural and messy. We are very careful, though, that we don’t end up putting chemicals in the lake. We don’t use weed killer on the lawn. Actually, if we did we’d mostly not have any lawn. Especially this dry summer the weeds were about the only green stuff in the lawn. And we even powerwash the house and docks without using any soap in the powerwasher. Even the biodegradeable kind takes more trust in chemistry than we have.

Here’s another view.

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I’ll be darned. Look at all those wildflowers.If there were a wildflower that put fear into Canada Geese it might almost be perfect.

Steve picked a bouquet of wildflowers and a number of them came from our little slice of natural.

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So, it looks like Queen Anne’s Lace. I’m no gardener, but I don’t think it it is. I think it’s actually Water Hemlock, with its plant clusters squashed some to fit into the vase. Water Hemlock is a perennial native plant. Common in wet pastures and along roads and ditches. It’s a member of the carrot family and has a long taproot that smells like a carrot and tastes like a carrot. Except, if this really is Water Hemlock, don’t be tempted. It’s described by Stan Tekiela in his book on Michigan wildflowers as “by far the most poisonous plant in Michigan.” Something quite like this did in Socrates and you don’t want to go that route. A more benign identification is that it might be Water a/k/a Cow Parsnip. Nah. I like the Water Hemlock ID better.

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This big yellow guy, with some of its glory faded, is a Black-Eyed Susan. I think. Some call her Brown-eyed Susan, which would be more appropriate. Susan is in the Aster family. Nobody seems to know who Susan was. Or why this sunny plant bears her name.

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This purple delicate flower is another tentative identification: Spotted Knapweed. If so, it’s a non-native nasty. It aggressively crowds out other plants and may even change the chemical nature of the soil to keep away the natives and favor its own seeds. That would make it an allelopathic, a plant that releases toxins to inhibit the grown of plant competitors. Steve managed to find one of the prettier views for photographing this one. The bract under the flower, that sort of holds the flower in place, is a primitive looking ugly thing.

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This one, I believe, is Sweet or Spotted Joe-Pye Weed.There are a number of Joe Pyes in Michigan. They are a native plant. As the flower buds open, these small, fuzzy-looking delicate blooms appear. They are are hardy plants and the bloom lasts a long time. So, who was Joe Pye? All of my flower books say Joe Pye was a Native American “medicine man” in the 1700’s who travelled around New England teaching the settlers about the medicinal use of native plants. Joe Pye said his weed was a cure for typhoid fever, kidney stones, burns, and inflamed joints.

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The one flower Steve and I know for sure is Dandelions. We are experts on Dandelions. So, I don’t think he was picking Dandelions for his bouquet. I’m not sure about this one, but I think it’s a Common Sow Thistle. Sonchus Oleraceus. They are common along roadsides. Their stems flow with a milky juice. But Steve doesn’t remember if the thing slimed him or not.

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Next up is the lovely named Yellow Goat’s Beard, another member of the Aster family. They also go by the name of the Western Salsify. Who the heck makes up these names? We caught this one at just the right time. The flowers soon turn into fluffy big globe-shaped seed heads, like dandelions, and that’s how this plant spreads.

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Those little clusters of yellow flat button flowers are Common Tansy, Tanacetum Vulgare. It’s another member of the Aster family. I like their nickname: Bitter Buttons. Apparently its leaves have a strong bitter smell. I have quite a few allergies and decided not to do too much sniffing around the bouquet, so I can’t personally verify that. It’s a non-native. One of its folk uses is for, ahem, ridding folks of intestinal worms. It’s worm-fighting prowess is maybe why it was packed in funeral winding sheets and why people would get buried with tansy wreaths. My goodness. After this research we may leave the Common Tansy out of future bouquets. Also the Water Hemlock. Definitely the Water Hemlock.