Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Grand River Park

April 2, 2012  Part one.  First Grand River Park, Ottawa County Michigan, we wandered freely for almost 7 hours today both here and at Aman Park.   We dressed warmly to start our day, it was 40 degrees at 8 a.m.  I'm splitting this day in two because I want to savor each part and because it takes time to put posts together...  so let's just enjoy.
Entering the park, we are greeted by sun, blue sky, and a sycamore tree, this is Grand River Park.

We gear up, and hit the ground... strolling, never running.  Up the lookout platform. This is what we see.

The marsh from the lookout platform, just north of the parking lot.  As we walk along taking everything in, partly because we are fresh, just starting out on our walk for the week, and partly because we just like to look at everything, we are curious, we see spring wildflowers.  Trout Lily, both yellow and white, Spring Beauty, violets, buttercups, they just go on and on and we admire each one.  Even though it was a mild winter, the plants (and animals) are amazing, out here surviving on their own.

We amble down a main trail then duck onto a deer path to our right.  We have been all over this park in the last few years but never right here in this particular place.  It's wet now with a creek, and marshy spots, but that's okay we have our boots. It's still cool outside in the low 40's, that's good too, no bugs, and it is more comfortable to keep warm with a jacket than try to keep cool in the humid heat of summer.  It is so nice here, quiet, pleasant, with a wide variety of things to take in...

Just somewhere at Grand River Park...

As we lingered there in that wet woods I saw something big fly to a tree branch quite a distance away.  I tried to point it out to Marie but I knew until the large bird moved it would be impossible for her to find it.  I didn't have much hope of getting a picture, but took a somewhat random shot up into the trees where I was pretty sure the bird had landed in.  As it turned its head, we both saw now that it was an owl, probably a Barred Owl.  Below is the random picture I took, see if you can find the owl.

There is an owl in this picture, center then a little to the left.  It is so hard to see, that I didn't even know it was captured on the picture until I got home and put it on the computer screen.  Here is the same shot trimmed.  I don't have a photo shop program but I can trim pictures.  Take a look...

It's really surprising that my little Canon PowerShot SD 1300 could capture the owl, for how far away it was, maybe 70 to 80 feet or farther.  And it is so well camouflaged.

Are we having fun yet?  Oh yeah.  Well, the Barred Owl flew off and we moseyed on...

Eventually making our way to the Grand River.  We reminisced about the lovely Green Dragon we found here last year.  

As the soothing blue of the sky reflected on the river, we also commented on how this area was flooded the last time we were here.

The water is down today so we easily make our way over the creek.  The ground has been scoured by flood water.  
On we go to an official trail now, then we decide to take a break on one of the bridges.

Happy boots, splendid day.

After some nuts, berries, and a homemade chocolate chip cookie, we got back on our feet, easily agreeing on where to go next. Sometimes we do have a plan.  Today our plan is to go find our unique Paw Paw patch, where nearby we found Harbinger-of-Spring last year.  So off we go oblivious to time or much of any else, Harbinger-of-Spring was on our minds.

Down the trail we go again, just treasuring it all, wow, this is wonderful. Forget the time, just enjoy.
After a turn here and a twist there we went on a super secret deer trail to the "our" Paw Paw patch.  Today we find the Paw Paw already have buds!  I'm not sure we have seen them at this stage before.

Very furry, soft, nice colors - these are the flower buds of the Paw Paw tree.  We were still finding wildflowers,

Wild Ginger with flower bud,

Wild Ginger flower,

Wild Geranium, first of the year for us.

Golden Ragwort, just buds, remember this blooms yellow.

Marsh Marigold working to fully open  in the early morning sunlight.

And the stream again, or is this a different stream than earlier?  It must be since we are on the opposite side of the park than before. We happily keep finding places to cross the creek, we are explorers, ha ha.
We sit again this time on a log in the middle of nowhere, this is perfect, with the sun warming things up, the very blue sky, woods, water, wildflowers... But oh wait - What's that?  Oh no, we hear the drone of a lawnmower, but tune that noise out and, ah, yes we are in the middle of nowhere again...

As we were sitting there on the log, checking out everything around us, I spied this tall tree with spring green leaves.  It was across the creek from us, maybe a willow.  It was much taller than the trees around it, with new little green leaves against the blue sky.

We left the log to explore and the next thing I knew I was right under that same tree.  What a great tree.

We wound up in some more woods, still somewhere in Grand River Park, then we found ourselves in one of the fields.  We checked out a Tulip Tree near a bench at the edge of the field.  Then oozed our way over  the wet muddy trail. 

I was remembering one spring here in this field that we saw several snakes.  It wasn't long before I came across this one. Yikes! It was huge and hissed, and flatten its head.  Eastern Hognose (Puff Adder)??

I didn't get close to this snake, but it was something, to see it just laying there in the grass, in the sun, and it was so big.  Too bad I couldn't measure it some how.

We went across a field to look at some large trees, this is an American Beech, and we stumbled on to a geocache.     
Marie found another first for the year, a lady bug...

 This pine is covered with cones, why? We didn't see any other pines with this many cones.

Walking down the now freshly mowed path we take the long route to the parking lot not ready to leave but we have been here almost 5 hours.  We do want to stop at Aman Park today too. 
So good bye Grand River Park, until next time.                                                 

P.S. We did find a few Harbinger-of-Spring blooming, most were already done.
          Harbinger-of-Spring, (Erigenia bulbosa)   Carrot Family


New Hampshire Gardener said...

You're so lucky to have so many parks available. We have parks, but nothing like yours. Beautiful!

Plants Amaze Me said...

New Hampshire Gardener, Thanks, yes we do have many parks to choose from, especially right here in Ottawa County. We, my sister Marie and I, are lucky, too, that it works out so we get a day a week together. Thanks for visiting my blog. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm glad we're taking a break before Aman Park, there was a lot to see and absorb in during the first part of the day. Thanks for bringing us along!

Plants Amaze Me said...

You are welcome. We did spend most of the day at Grand River Park, but it was just a fun five hours. We get so caught up in everything, especially in the beginning of our walk, Marie takes notes and I take pictures. Thanks for coming along. :)

kayak1 said...

Just the most perfect way to start a day, checking your Blog and enjoying the pictures, commentary... Thanks!!!

Plants Amaze Me said...

kayak1, Thanks so much. Mike and I walked at Riverside Park last night, someone was out kayaking, it was beautiful, calm and not too cold. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow is the word. Were we really there five hours? Tempus fugit - time flees. I wonder how you say - when you're having fun - in Latin?
The Sycamore, the owl, your boots, the Pawpaw flowers - who knew the flowers start out green then turn maroon? Your Ginger blossom reminds me of a kaleidoscope!
Even the Dandelions, common as they are, had such an impact. You are an excellent photographer.
The photo of the Willow tree proves that again. Such grace and color. The snake in the grass, the Beech tree, the Ladybug!
Thank you for all your time and trouble. I appreciate it so much.
M :)

Plants Amaze Me said...

M :), (Marie) Actually it might have been 13 minutes short of 5 hours, but that's all in your notes. I am glad you enjoyed the post. I did especially like the day, but, hm, almost didn't realize it 'til later. That doesn't make sense. Thanks for pointing out that I left out the Harbinger-of-Spring, one of the reasons we went to Grand River Park! I have revised the post, just did a PS., thanks again for taking me places. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow IS the word, these adventures are becoming mini stories each time you guys go out. I really enjoy them. I check for a new post daily! How do you keep it fun? You must get along with each other pretty well, to spend so much time together?
Thank you so much.

stratovolcano said...

Wow! Great blog! The owl was kinda creepy looking, all white like an albino owl. I like the snake! And the big tree. So many flowers, I don't know much about flowers but I'm impressed how many you and M can find.

Plants Amaze Me said...

stratovolcano, thanks, it was fun to do that post, I still have to finish the other half! So you thought the owl was scary not the snake? We do find so many things, me and Aunt M. We were out for 12 hours yesterday, that is amazing. Have fun piloting, but be really careful, OK? :)

pb1phil said...

Is the bog still therein the park?

pb1phil said...

Is the bog still therein the park?

Plants Amaze Me said...

pb1phil, I am not familiar with a bog at Grand River County Park. It is usually a wet place. Do you know where there is a bog at that park? If you do, let me know where it is and I can check it out the next time I'm there.
Thanks, :-)

Plants Amaze Me said...

Again to pb 1 Phil, so this bog did you mean the bog at Aman park not Grand River Park?
I just had that thought, I remember talk of a bog at Aman Park.