Welcome to Matt’s Field Report! This will be a new segment on my blog where I can post the happenings of Michigan’s wildlife throughout different times of the year. I’m outside photographing wildlife year round, but I’ve only been posting the very best photos of each trip on my social media accounts. The Field Report is an opportunity to show more of what I see on each of these trips, even if the photos aren’t always my best work. I’ll be doing my best to give the overall feel for the trip, and mention some of the more interesting things I’ve seen.

Today’s Field Report comes from Maple River State Game area, just north of St. John’s Michigan during spring migration for birds.

Two drake (male) Wood Ducks

In April, the birds are migrating back north now that the ice has melted on the lakes and rivers, and they can begin building their nests and laying eggs. There’s a wide variety of things to see, including a few visitors that you can only see during migration, since they nest north of Michigan.

A muskrat

The mammals were busy as well! Groundhogs, beavers and muskrats can all be seen during the day.

Great Blue Herons are coming back as well.

A few Swans flying by.

It’s not often that I see swans, so this was pretty cool to see.

A male and female Wood Duck
A Juvenile Bald Eagle

Maple River has Bald Eagles that live there year-round. The ducks aren’t fans of them, but they manage to coexist.

I ended up sitting down in cover near the water’s edge for the rest of the day. Birds have excellent vision, and generally avoid humans, so my best chance at seeing them up close to to take the stealth approach. After sitting still for long enough, I was able to see a few Pied-billed Grebes swim by. These aquatic birds mostly dive and eat fish, and aren’t a common sight.

One of about 5 Pied-billed Grebes that swam by.

As I was leaving, I saw the most exciting thing of the day by far:

This Osprey decided to make its nest on top of a tower.

The Ospreys are back!

If you’ve been following along with my work, you know Osprey are my favorite bird to photograph. They pretty much exclusively eat fish, so they migrate south when the lakes start to freeze over, and migrate back north around early April. This was the first Osprey I saw that year, and was a pretty big deal for me. In the next few weeks, I’d get some of my best Osprey Photos yet. Expect to see them in the following Field reports!