Since DDT and like pesticides were banned in 1972, the American Bald Eagles may be seen around the Great Lakes.

Read About how this happened in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes. 

Find the book at bn.com, Amazon.com and many other brick and mortar bookstores such as the Bookman in Grand Haven, MI.


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Living Waters

The north woods ring—the waters gather dripping from the tops of pines, running, running, running over ancient rocks.  The veerys trill up and down the scales, the warblers chime their notes through still bare twigs and the water runs, it runs down to Lake Superior swirling downstream, plunging over waterfalls just freed from ice curtains.  Curious deer come to drink from the pool below lifting their heads, standing motionless to sense the air.  Is it bear?  Wolf? Lynx?

Sun dapples down through bare forest trees—sun streams, the ground steams, wet leaves tilt insisting on light, thrust new spikes.  Water flows through mobile root hairs, roots, stems, vaporizes into air.

Wild geese weave the wind, skid along black marsh water among tangles of cat tail.  Further downstream waves curl onto a rock shore polishing stones to oval and the small stones roll chinking and chunking.  They assume their flat round shapes over years of grinding, finding their ease in the wave rhythms, rolling rolling, rolling.  White caps bubble foam and the jade water is a dancing goddess in the middle distance between shore and horizon.

Children arrive to pick up fossils of ancient coral and to find stones to skip on a quiet day.  They chase sea gulls and try to become airborne by leaping and spreading their arms.  Cormorants and sooty terns rise and cleave the air.  The red cheeked kids leap in the early spring breezes, their knuckles chapped.  What do they care?

The bones of whales and sailors roll in the currents—some finding their way out to sea, some becoming, becoming, becoming a diatom’s shining, becoming the bones of an emerald shiner, becoming limestone shale in the loving exchange between the living and the living.  The islands of Lake Superior bear greenstones and jewel like snakes.  Sturgeon and trout spawn leaving pearls and coral in the crevices of rocks.  A moose stands chin deep in and island lake.  The islands of Lake Superior are quiet, remote and cold,  littered with bones.

Curled underground, water drawn up through squeaky pumps splashes into enamel buckets—water clear and cold and tasting of iron.  The iron flows through the veins of the moose and in the red cheeked children.

Loons quiver their greetings and as twilight falls, bullfrogs groan their love songs—they bellow all night long.  I lay awake listening to the water lapping the night and its creatures.

 

–Barbara Spring


Piping Plovers: Rare Bird Alert  click the link for photos and information about an endangered species.  Read more about these piping plovers in The Dynamic Great Lakes.

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WASAGA BEACH — The piping plovers have returned to Wasaga Beach with a record of five nesting pairs.

“We’ve never had five nests at Beach Area One before. It’s usually two or three nests,” said Patricia Davidson, a biologist and piping plover co-ordinator for Wasaga Beach Provincial Park and Friends of Nancy Island.

Piping plovers were locally extinct (extirpated), so every egg laid is important.

“Prior to 2007 there hadn’t been a nest in Ontario in 70 years,” said Davidson.

The entire Great Lakes region only had 60 breeding pairs of birds in the 1980s. That number has improved to 75 breeding pairs, but the species is still endangered.

“There are more elephants in the wild than there are piping plovers,” she said.

Efforts to bring back the species started at Wasaga Beach Provincial Park in 2008 with a single pair.

Last year 13 chicks hatched and nine survived. Nine chicks also survived in 2014.

There are two primary protected nesting sites; Wasaga Beach and Sauble Beach.

And to the delight of Davidson, there is now a single pair nesting at Darlington Provincial Park with one of the adults coming from Wasaga Beach.

“I think it’s really neat that the chicks hatch, fledge and fly off and they are establishing new nest sites,” said Davidson, who is in her fifth year on the project.

The fencing off of the east section of Beach Area One makes all the difference to the survival of the birds because the habitat they require is a long beach (between the water line and dunes) which happens to be Beach Area One.

Additionally, they lay their eggs out in the open.

“Their nests are smack dab where you would lay your beach towel. With a busy beach like Wasaga where they lay their eggs would be stepped on by everybody, which is why we have to close off the section.

“If we didn’t have the program and the volunteer coverage and help from staff, piping plovers would not be able to nest at this beach through the sheer numbers of people at Wasaga Beach.”

“It’s our duty to step in and share the beach with them,” said Davidson.

Human encroachment extends beyond pedestrian traffic to the raking of the beach and destruction of dunes. Beyond that eggs and chicks are food for predators including weasels, foxes and gulls and they are vulnerable to storms and high water washing away the nests.

Fencing was erected May 10 and will remain up until the end of August. Birds have paired up and are now laying clutches of eggs, typically four. Hatching takes place in mid June and birds fledge and leave the area in August.

About 40 people are volunteering to watch the bird’s behaviour and educate the public, but more volunteers are welcome.

Anyone interested including high school students needing volunteer hours, should contact Davidson through email wasagaplover@gmail.com or at 705-429-2516.

giselewintonsarvis@yahoo.com

Read more about piping plovers in The Dynamic Great Lakes