By Howard Meyerson
Peggy Ridgway is no laggard when it comes to organizing bird-watching events. The 73-year-old retired Oscoda school teacher founded the Tawas Point Birding Festival that celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. The popular Lake Huron shoreline event, May 14-17, draws hundreds of bird-watchers from as far away as California.
They arrive annually in East Tawas with their binoculars and field guides, hoping to view spring migrant birds as they wing their way up Michigan’s northeast shoreline, headed for summer nesting grounds. Festival goers spotted and recorded 188 bird species in 2014.
“We’ve had people from 17 states and five countries over nine years,” said Ridgway, past president of Michigan Audubon Society and a member of the AuSable Valley Audubon chapter.
Ridgway’s Audubon chapter is one of three, including Thunder Bay Audubon Society and Straits Area Audubon Society, that have been working for 15 months to develop the Sunrise Coast Birding Trail, a 28-stop, 145-mile, bird-watching trail stretching from Oscoda north to Mackinac City.
The route incorporates the best birding spots on the Sunrise Coast and makes them readily accessible to those traveling by vehicle and bicycle.
Formal dedications for the new trail will be held at 10 a.m. May 2 at Duck Park in Alpena and at 1 p.m. May 2 at Shoreline Park in Oscoda and Mill Creek Historical Park in Mackinac City.
The Audubon chapters received financial help from Consumers Energy and the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments. The funding paid for site signs and the development of a four-color map showing the route and birding locations. A copy can be downloaded from the trail website.
Maps also will be available at area Chamber of Commerce offices and visitor bureaus.
The Sunrise Coast and Saginaw Bay birding trails are two of five that can be found in Michigan. Others include the Beaver Island Birding Trail and Sleeping Bear Birding Trail which opened last year — and the 150-mile Superior Birding Trail in the Upper Peninsula. Details on each can be found on Michigan Audubon’s “Go Birding” page and on the Michigan DNR’s website. Continue reading