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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Still Too Early for Flowers

Tank Creek wetland

Maggie and I took a little walk today from a trailhead on the North Country Trail called Timber Creek. The name makes no sense, because the creek that runs through the area is Tank Creek. Anyway...

I went there because I'm leading two wildflower hikes there for the West Michigan Birding Festival in mid-May. Since I leave on Sunday to go to NY, I'll be home with just one day before I have to lead the first hike. I wanted to go see what kinds of things might be up, so that I might be able to predict some flowers that will be in bloom in a couple of weeks.

I also wanted to check out a very old woods road that I plan to use to make a loop hike. It will need a little bit of clearing with a hand saw, but it's usable.

So what I found was... not much. Despite all our warm weather, we've had so little rain that the flowers are not progressing very quickly in the woods. Several years ago, our trail club used this same loop for a nature trail, so I have a master list of all the plants I found there. But that was in June. I sure hope that a lot happens in the next two weeks! We can do a botany hike in any season or condition, but it might be disappointing in terms of the flowers!

Anyway... that loop is very short. Maggie and I walked it in both directions, and it took less than an hour, even with hunting for sprouting plants. So I decided to explore another direction along a forest road that is a snowmobile trail in winter. In the pictures above and below, you can see what we found!

Tank Creek wetland

This is a wetland area of Tank Creek. I'm thinking that the water area will shrink considerably in the summer, but I sure plan to go back and look again. We followed the edge on a deer trail until reaching the north end, which I think is the headwaters of the very short Tank Creek. (It's only about 2 miles long and then flows into the Pere Marquette River.) I scared up some ducks, but they didn't come back to have their picture taken. I think they might have been mergansers.

So what DID we find? Well, the ferns are starting to unfurl. This is cinnamon fern, Osmunda cinnamomea. It's very handsome in any stage.

cinnamon fern fiddleheads

This one is just bracken, Pteridium aquilinum. We have so much of it, and it grows in so many places, that I don't find it very interesting. But, it can be attractive.

bracken fern fiddleheads

I also found some of the little Woodsia Fragile Fern that grows in my cemetery.

Tomorrow, Ellen and I are going to check out another trail because I'm leading a wildflower hike for the Audubon Society on Saturday. I think that one is doomed to be a "botany" hike, but I'll let you know tomorrow!

See Rusty Woodsia?


rainfield61 said...

Have a macro shot on the fiddlehead, and you will find how amazing it is.

Lin said...

It looks like everything is still sleeping there. Funny--everything here is in full bloom with the rain we had last weekend. It's nice to see color.

Ann said...

we've gotten quite a lot of flowers coming up around here. You sound like you have a very busy schedule coming up

Ratty said...

I haven't seen many flowers either. I keep telling myself to go back and check my photo archives from last year so I can see when I should expect anything. Even without the flowers there are some other interesting plants out there though.

RNSANE said...

Even without flowers, though, it is still beautiful.

betchai said...

i think the flowers will really be in time when you lead the hike, wow, so many good things going on for you Sharkbytes.

Sharkbytes said...

I keep trying, rainfield- the macro doesn't focus on what I want it to.

Lin- we just had rain tonight. I'm thinking things in the woods will really pop this weekend.

Ratty- all plants are interesting, tee hee!

Carmen- for sure! I want to explore that wetland some more.

Betchai- I know! There are more things every day than I can possibly share.

Duxbury Ramblers said...

It's a nightmare leading a flower walk, somes you find lots, especially when the others are looking, still it's the pleasure of being out and sharing a common interest.
Hope you get plenty to look at.

Ann Flower said...

I just recently discovered your blog and am so glad I did. What a sweet post!

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