Seney National Wildlife Refuge and a Happy Ending

There’s a nice little wetland under Federal protection just 45 miles east of Bay Furnace, and we had to go there. Seney is home to a few nesting pairs of endangered loons and trumpeter swans, neither of which have yet made it to our life list of Observed Birds. We went.

Blackeyed Susan & a Seney Birch
Blackeyed Susan & a Seney Birch

Our campground is a Passport America participant in Germfask called Big Cedar. It might be better named Forbidden Campground for all the signs they’ve posted banning all kinds of things and activities. But it’s on the Mantistique River, is grassy and pleasant enough, with clean shower facilities.

Kat did get some good pictures of trumpeter swans in Seney. They were once common, but when fashion’s whim made their feathers en vogue, the swans soon became scarce. That was in the late 1800’s. The decades after that brought lead poisoning. Many waterbirds ingest gravel to help digest grain (that’s a gizzard’s function). Ducks, geese, and swans all do this. After a hundred years or so of waterfowl hunting a lot of lead shot has accumulated on the bottoms of most lakes and ponds. While its softness makes it useless for grinding grain, lead is easy meat for the grist in a bird’s gizzard, and microscopic flakes of it eventually poison the bird. Now, and for maybe forty years, everybody has had to duck hunt with steel shot, which does rust out and is less toxic when ingested. Trumpeters have made a comeback from perhaps a thousand pairs to 25,000 today.

Trumpeter Swan
Trumpeter Swan
CCC Going to Work at Seney
CCC Going to Work at Seney

bug eyed duck

Germfask Firehouse
Germfask Firehouse

Seney Refuge was built by the CCC back in the late 1930’s. The Germfask CCC unit did the work, and their semi-permanent campsite was located right here on what is now the Big Cedar Campground. Germfask, like so many small towns we’ve seen is shrinking. We had to drive ten miles east to find lunchmeat and a bottle of wine. But it was worth it. Now we have an ending to my favorite TV series, Northern Exposure: Joel and his Alaskan wife compromised on a move to the UP. There are hospitals, lots of golf courses, along with wilderness and plenty of cold weather here. Maggie O’Connell is from Grosse Pointe, MI, far enough away to keep the ‘rents out of their hair. Unless, just unless, Dr. Fleischman married his quirky and semi-clairvoyant assistant, Marilyn Whirlwind.

Full on a Monday?  Business Is Good!
Full on a Monday? Business Is Good!

That question remains unanswered. We did not disturb their privacy.

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