Maple Syrup Time
When the daily temperatures are consistently above freezing and the night time dips below 32 degrees, Mother Nature turns on her sap producing machine. The maple trees are than tapped and 40 gallons of sap are collected to make one gallon of syrup. It is a special sound to hear, the drip,drip, drip of the sap dropping into the bucket mounted to the tree. Depending on the size of the evaporator, it may take several hours of boiling to get that one gallon of "liquid gold"! The season can be short, but when the trees start to bud out, it is time to pull the taps, clean the equipment and look forward to next year.
There are many maple syrup producers in the Elk Rapids area. For a list, go to www.mi-maplesyrup.com. Michigan Maple Syrup Association's "Michigan Maple Weekend" for our area is March 25-26. Get out to visit our local producers. See the the process in action and sample their special gifts from Mother Nature!
March 1-Early in this rainy foggy morning I heard and glimpsed the first returning red-winged blackbird above my feeder station in the village east side.Their song is a rolling “conk-a-reee” and the patch of bright red on their upper wing is a welcome spot of color as well. (Trisha Perlman)
March 7-Our weather and bird migration is ahead of schedule by 2-3 weeks this year. Our raptors (hawks and eagles) migration usually begins mid-March.
However, a number of sharp-shinned hawks have been hunting close to my feeder for two weeks. The blue jays call out a screeching warning call and all (birds and squirrels) run for cover and/or remain motionless. Sometimes I run out and chase the intruder away! (Trisha Perlman)
March 8-In the early morning I heard a ruckus outside when the blackbirds started squawking. I looked out the windows and saw a beautiful snowy owl sitting on the edge of the alley. It took off in flight---soaring above the treetops followed by the small flock of blackbirds. (Terri Reisig)
March 10-Several early robins have been spotted on River Street and Ottawa Street. (Anonymous bird watcher)
March 11--Twenty-two red-winged blackbirds invaded the yard and chased away the nuthatches, chickadees, and finches from the feeders. This early harbinger of spring occurred on a day when it was 18 degrees outside, snowing, and the windchill pushed temperatures close to zero. (Terri Reisig)
March 13-Having heard that a snowy owl was spotted in my neighborhood, I pulled out my binoculars at daybreak and began my watch. I didn’t see the owl, but I did see a female cardinal in a nearby cedar tree. (Royce Ragland)
I watched a beautiful mature Bald Eagle fly over the harbor and shoreline. Mergansers and
gulls have been busy eating the available fish and crayfish. I have been watching a flock of
Redheads that have been using the harbor as a refuge all winter. These are handsome ducks,
fit for a postcard. If you get a chance, walk our water and see for yourself. (Eric Crissman, Harbor Master)