September 15, 2014
Even though the day dawned cool and rainy, we decided to proceed with Stephanie’s plans to drive to Lake Michigan and get our “lake fix.” We had been needing this for quite a while and just hadn’t been able to make it happen.
We drove first to Indiana Dunes State Park Nature Center, which is an excellent nature center that always deserves a stop.
Our next stop was the Pavilion and Beach house where we ate our meager lunch on one of the benches as we looked out over the gorgeous lake. Although the wind was a brisk and chilly 56 degrees, we observed probably three dozen or more monarch butterflies migrating east to west along the southern shore of Lake Michigan.
There were several gulls on the beach. The one closest to us was very territorial and put up a squawk as only a gull can do, whenever another gull came into its area. I am not good at gull id at all, but I am fairly sure they were ring-billed.
We then walked up to the fairly new Bird Observation Platform. On our way up, a flock of crows was mobbing either a sharp-shinned or a cooper’s hawk. We couldn’t get a good fix on it as it disappeared amongst the pines.
We next took Trail 3 through the Dunes Prairie Nature Preserve. Wow, what a neat area! I know monarch butterflies are in decline and even threatened, but one could not tell by the numbers present at Dunes this day! The Prairie Preserve was absolutely filled with them! We couldn’t hazard a guess as to the numbers. There were even plants – goldenrod? – that had 3 or 4 on them.
After hiking along the board walk on the trail to the campground, we left for the beach at New Buffalo, Michigan, where we were entertained by more gulls.
Unfortunately we had to hit the road. We were glad the rain held off until we were back on the road.
Monarchs on goldenrod