Saturday, December 19, 2009

Merry Christmas

A nice but wet snowfall today, and it is surprisingly warm, 26 degrees F. The water continues to run over the Boys Dam, but there is ice all around.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Cold water, warm air

Fog hung over the dam in the morning, but the day was sunny and warm, mid 60s at least. I took a trip up the Portage River in my kayak - and on the way back was caught against a log and flipped - not once, but twice! The water was cold! What I learned: Don't wear a cotton shirt while paddling the river - it holds that cold water like a sponge.

Twice I saw big fish leap and hit something on branches sticking out of the water. I couldn't get a clear look at either of them, moving too fast. Catching bugs?

Friday, August 28, 2009


Great Blue Lobelia, Lobelia siphilitica, growing in the marsh below the dam. There are quite a few of them in bloom. Around it are jewel balsam and the little white aster. It was getting dark, I'll try for another photo later.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odoratus)

This forward little critter was found toiling up the steep banks, heading for the street. I thought it might be a female looking for a place to lay eggs, but it was so small (3.5 - 4 inches, less than 10cm). She had a very pointy nose, with that and the color I ID-ed her as Sternotherus odoratus. I didn't get "musked" but the common name is "Stinkpot"! Her back was covered with green algae, not dried out so she must have come up the bank pretty speedily.

From Michigan DNR: "Rarely bask, are generally seen foraging along the bottom in shallow water. May be nocturnal in summer. They eat snails, crayfish, insects, tadpoles, etc. If disturbed, glands along lower edge of shell secrete a foul-smelling musk, hence the common name "stinkpot."...mostly inhabits clear lakes with sand or marl bottoms."

The Portage is a pretty clean river.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Nodding Dragon

Last year a little, now there is a lot! The marsh below the dam now is covered with the bobbing, nodding flower plumes of Saururus cernuus (nodding dragon or lizard tail.) Another mysteriously named plant. The flower spikes are fluffy and dance on the wind, and "give nothing" of lizards.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Big Fish

A man pulled this fish out of the Portage River below the dam. I asked if he was going to eat it and he said maybe, but first he was going to enter it in a big fish contest!

He also said he had caught a walleye in the same place a few days ago, one of the biggest caught in the county this year.

Friday, June 19, 2009


On Tuesday there were a whole school of pike - or muskie? Swimming around below Boys Dam. Impressive! They are beautiful and strange looking (and not easily fooled by fishermen.) I didn't get a picture but did get (a blurry) one of a large fish - a carp or sucker - jumping up on the face of the dam. They do that a lot, but my camera is too slow to catch them. A fisherman told me they were eating the algae off the face of the dam.

Besides the human fishermen, there is the heron.

Monday, June 15, 2009

June 14

Nice sunny day. I pulled my kayak into the water below the dam and paddled down to Scidmore Park. A very fast current and some downed trees made the trip more exciting, but all of the sunken hazards were well under water. Upstream is more fun!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

April Flowers

Marsh marigolds by the Portage River below the Boys' Dam.


Trillium on the banks above the river.

Mayapples unfurl with an odd little knob on top. The flat brown lentil like seeds are from the redbud.

New redbud blooms, Portage River in the background.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

April 2009

Skunk-cabbages in bloom on April 8, and the marsh marigold buds are opening on the 18th in the marsh by the Portage River. Some are blooming in front of the old horse-drawn piece of farm equipment that is stuck in the mud.

April began with snow; this picture of the river and Boys Dam through the trees taken on April 6.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Dawn, Jan. 1 2009

Jan 1 morning; ice cantilevered over the Boys' Dam and, at the base of Boys Dam, round ice floes scattered across the surface of the Portage River like white water-lily leaves. All melted away when the sun hit, but ice remains at the top of the dam.

Goldeneye! The first of the year, courting on Hoffman Pond. The male dipped his beak in the water, stretched his neck and beak up to the sky. The female held herself low in the water, even dipping her head under a few times, and then stretched her neck and beak up to the sky as well.

Addition -- on the 5th I saw a brown creeper (Certhia familiaris) walking up the trunk of a maple by the river. Only the second one I have seen in two years.