April 30 2012 We started out in the rain towards Barry County Michigan. First stop, our favorite fen.
Purple or Water Avens (Geum rivale, Rose Family)
We found a plant we couldn't identify without our guide books and since it was raining we had left the books in the car.
Swamp Valerian (Valeriana uliginosa)
Later, we discovered it was Swamp Valerian which we had seen here at the fen last June. I also found something flowering, with paired leaves, maybe a honeysuckle?
Glaucous Honeysuckle (Lonicera dioica)
Like I said it was raining so we moved on but later we ID'ed it as Glaucous Honeysuckle.
Over the bridges and down the boardwalk, past so many Larch.
Near Hastings our next stop is at Zhigaawin (She Gotta Win) owned by the Boy Scouts of America. A little confusing here, there is a parking area but then there is a Stay Out sign at one of the trails (it may have been the wrong way on the disc golf course), so we followed the disc golf course. This took us down a very steep hill, hang-on-to-the-trees steep, on the north side of the parking area.
Someone, probably Boy Scouts, had carved very good replicas of giant size Morels out of tree stumps. At the bottom we climbed back up to a ridge of large trees with Flowering Dogwood blooming profusely below them. What a sight!
Eventually, we looked out over Carter Lake from the high forested bluff. We saw another path marked "Trail" where there are some footbridges but we decided to move on to the next park. Before we left, Marie stopped to look at something orange in a tree that she glimpsed on the way into the park.
Remember awhile ago I gave Marie the book "Naturally Curious" by Mary Holland, it is a cool book with all sorts of info about nature. Marie remembered seeing something called Orange Cedar Rust Gall in this book, and sure enough she found it in a cedar here at Zhigaawin! Good eye Marie! We stopped to check it out, I took a picture of it but it was quite high in the tree, so no close-ups.
Then on our way to a preserve that we haven't been to before - Carter Lake Preserve owned by Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy.
At the bottom you are in the marsh, there are boards and cement blocks in the muddiest spots. There is a bridge over a creek.
We were seeing Marsh Marigolds, violets, sedges, Golden Ragwort, trillium, and Miterwort. We heard the Common Yellowthroat calling witchity-witchity-witchity.
We made our way across the marsh when I saw something big and brown moving ahead!
It was a Sandhill Crane, and it wasn't far away. Then another Sandhill Crane, wow they are big! They were distressed and stalked back and forth across the trail ahead of us. We looked close and saw two little fuzz balls, baby Sandhill Crane. We couldn't go back a different way so as they moved off the trail we calmly and quickly moved away.
We checked out the preserve, the trails aren't very obvious. We were back in the woods, then along a wet area. Very nice.
We found a Mayapple blooming!
Met a friendly Chickadee,
saw a turtle shell, a chipmunk,
saw lots of different ferns, also Alder-Buckthorn.
Marie ID'ed the same plant we had seen at the fen this morning, the paired leaved one. We kept thinking it was a shrub but after closer examination we found it was a vine,
A spent Marsh Marigold
We helped a Phantom Cranefly out of a spider web, it flew right back into the web!
So I helped it out of the web again this time it landed safely on a tree. Now there is a hungry spider at Carter Lake.
Raindrop in Larch
We followed a trail into a beautiful, sunny, no it wasn't sunny - it was sprinkling and cloudy.
Oh it's not sunshine but a beautiful group of Golden Ragwort!
We head back to the car passing the Sandhill Crane without much disturbance. Back across the marsh.
Up the steps and back to the car. We decided to check out a Hastings city park named Tyden Park. There was construction going on in Hastings.
It's a nice city park, as city parks go, it has a bridge over the Thornapple River, and a trail.
It was raining hard by this time, so we geared up and followed the trail through some uninteresting "citified" woods.
We did a see a toad along the way.
I had read online about a trestle bridge here in Hastings so we went off in the car to find that. We parked at the library and walked across the street to the bridge.
Bridges and history are interesting, but we are still in town with cars, people, and noise.
We drove north out of Hastings on to greener places and we found them on the Dolan Trail.
This trail is in the southeast corner of Kent County Michigan and the property is owned by Trout Unlimited. We drove just north of the Coldwater River to a parking area. The trail was marked with yellow signs and a new walkway had been put in to cross the very muddy places.
Virginia Bluebell Patch
We walked east on the trail, seeing lots of spring wildflowers, many sycamore trees, and the Coldwater River. I would definitely come here again, it's beautiful.