Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fall Color Show just starting in Lower Peninsula

Wednesday, September 23

Throughout the Northwest and Northeast Lower Peninsula, prime viewing is still approximately 2 – 3 weeks away. Color development in the region ranges between 5 and 10 percent.

In Petoskey, which is bordered by Little Traverse Bay, temperatures typically hold more constant this time of year, making tree colors appear slower. Some of the softer trees, such as Poplar, are moving ahead of the hard woods with brilliant yellows starting to mix in with the greens.

Traveling to Leelanau County, color watchers can expect to see Maples just starting to turn into their brilliant hues of red, oranges and yellows.
Wildlife observations to note include a few Red-tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures kettling; the last of the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Gray Catbirds feeding on ripened native black cherries can also be seen. Scores of sparrows will be noticed throughout the grasslands with the occasional meadowlark being spotted.

In Gaylord, and northern Otsego County color has appeared about 2% in forested zones, the solitary mast trees, as well as those that are semi-solitary and dominant along country roads are "peaking" in a piecemeal fashion against their verdant backdrop. Some of these "loner trees” are vibrant in hues of amber-tinged radiant orange, with a few regally purple in the lower elevations. Currently it seems to be primarily the maples being touched by autumn's brush, but some of the oaks with "wet feet" are getting in on the act. Some yellow is showing in the poplars.

Near Pigeon River Forest, many more deer are being seen-- no doubt scrounging the remaining succulents, as well as the tops of white cedars. The elk will be slowly making their way to their winter grounds soon enough.

In the central and southwest part of the Lower Peninsula color is developed about 3 – 5%, with prime color approximately 4 weeks away. Trees just starting to show color include elms, a few young maples, and poplar trees. Wildlife observations to take note of include Sandhill cranes which have lost their brown breeding color and have turned mostly gray in time for migration.

Fall color watchers looking for the best viewing opportunities can call the West Michigan Tourist Association at 800-442-2084 x 304 for color updates provided by Apple Tree Inn of Petoskey and the Michigan Audubon Society each Wednesday through October. Check before heading to your fall color destination.

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