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!
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.
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.
I also found some of the little
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!
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