Spring Rambles

Finally, after a long and somewhat chilly spring, it finally became warm enough to get out my hiking gear and take some spring rambles on area trails – hopefully in preparation for a long hikes or backpacking adventures this next autumn.

My main interest during the spring months are always the native wildflowers, or ephemera that bloom in the woods and wetlands in the area.

The Kal-Haven Trail between F and G Ave:

I like to start slow, especially since I tend to be sedentary during Michigan’s winter months. Though I enjoy the snowy days, going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark, leaves little time for outdoor pleasures. Winter is a good time for reading and online art classes, not necessarily for hiking.

However, beginning in April, when the weather starts getting nice, its time to get together with other Friends of the Kal-Haven Trail and start in on our garlic mustard pulls. We concentrate on the trail between F and G Ave, which has the designation of being a wildflower restoration area. I think that I’ve been pulling garlic mustard there for about 10 years. I always take my camera and phone in order to capture images of the short-lived spring flowers.

From the top: False Solomon’s Seal; Solomon’s Seal; Mayapple

Jack in the Pulpit; Columbine; Ragwort

Paw Paw; Wild Phlox; Large-flowered Bellwort

Celandine Poppy; Scarlet cup fungus; Trillium

Spring Beauty; Dutchman’s Breeches; Bloodroot

Trout Lily

After pulling the invasive plant for so many years, the spring natives have made a phenomenal comeback in the area.

Schrier Park – Bishop’s Bog Preserve

Bishop’s Bog is a favorite trail of mine. This 152-acre preserve is the largest relict bog in Southern Michigan. A relict bog is an ancient wetlands that dates back to the end of the last ice age when the climate was cooler. The trees and plants are here reminiscent of a more northern climate. Tamaracks and birch trees grow in the bog, and in the late spring you can spot pink ladyslipper orchids, pitcher plants and sundews. My favorite part of the hike is the floating trail that lays on top of the bog. As you walk the wetter portions, water squirts up thru the holes in the plastic docking and wets your feet and legs. It’s really a lot of fun and refreshing on a warm day.

The canal at the entry of the bog; following the trail past tameracks and birches; the floating trail

pink lady slippers; carnivorous pitcher and sundew plants.

I’ll be back again in the summer to check out the fringed orange orchids, button bush blooms, and blueberries.

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Looking for Spring

Last night I heard the spring peepers and the wood frogs croaking out their mating calls. Even though the days are slowly getting warmer here in Michigan, the nights are still cold enough to frost the tips of fallen leaves.

Spring is coming….

A few weeks earlier I saw my first red-winged blackbird . The males always arrive before the females and hang out with the grackle clan around our birdfeeders. They are mostly seen at the top of the tallest trees keeping sentry duty. It’s easy to spot their red and yellow epaulets. Don’t use Robins as the first sign of spring – the Red Winged blackbird is the bird to watch for.

Spring is coming…

The male goldfinches have begun changing their feathers from an olive greenish color towards their bright yellow hue.

Spring is coming…

It’s time to clip pussy willow branches from down by the lake and force forsythia blossoms in the time-honored tradition to celebrate the coming of spring.

Spring is definitely coming….

First the snowdrops arrived, then daffodils!

I don’t want to jinx it, but I think Spring has arrived!

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