Sep 9, 2006

A Walk in the Woods

Algae-covered poolLeft: Algae-covered pool in the woods

(West Bloomfield, MI) I took a detour through the West Bloomfield Nature Preserve today on my way home from a trip to Michigan. The 162-acre parcel is in the middle of some of the priciest real estate in southeastern Michigan, and is home to a wide variety of plants, animals, and landforms.

The pictured cedar swamp is at the bottom of a deep ravine, and the croaking frogs provide a constant soundtrack to passersby.

Wild berriesLeft: Come on - just try one!

Although these bright red berries beckoned to me like cherry candy, I did not partake in them. They did provide a brilliant crimson contrast in the shadows of the forest.

It's a good thing that I didn't eat them, as they may have been poison ivy berries or perhaps the fruit of the deadly nightshade. I am open to suggestions from a more knowledgeable woodsperson about the exact nature of these berries, but they are certainly eye-appealing.

Goldenrod and wild astorLeft: Unexpected bursts of color appear throughout the preserve

Although goldenrod and wild astor are common wildflowers, their colors jumped out at me from the edges of the forest. The flash of my camera startled three black squirrels who chattered off deep into the forest.

Further up the trail I also disturbed a skunk, and I was lucky not to have gotten sprayed. The animal ran surprisingly fast, although I must admit my previous familiarity with observing a running skunk has been limited to viewings of Pepe Le Pew cartoons.

Great blue heron Left: A great blue heron stalks its prey

The Preserve is a noted great blue heron rookery, and visitors do not have to wait long to see one of these magnificent birds. I was not able to get a good photograph of this bird in flight as it soared overhead with a squirming object in its beak. The 7-foot wingspan of the great blue heron is indeed impressive as one of these aquatic raptors circles overhead.

Visitors to this unique preserve should be prepared to walk several miles, and should also be forewarned that there are steep inclines as one enters or leaves a ravine. The substantial biodiversity here - which also includes deer, red fox, coyote, muskrat, and mink - make this particular wildlife area memorable.


McCaskey said...

As much as I enjoy your political/current events commentary (and with the fifth anniversary of 9/11 almost upon us, I fully expect an anniversary essay from you, HM), I believe I enjoy your nature postings almost as much.

Kathleen Marie said...

Fabulous photos and what a gorgeous area. I saw my first pair of Blue Herons this past spring in the creek by our house. It left about a month later. I was amazed at how pretty they were but it was very hard to take a decent photo. Thanks for sharing. This was a nice treat!

microdot said...

I love Michigan. I spent much time in the UP when I was growing up. When ever I am in Toledo, I end up with my buddy and his dogs at Oak Openings.
The red berries you were salivating after, were a variety of wild verbinum which while not poisonous , aren't very interesting. I am a muushroom enthusiast myself!

microdot said...

oops, sorry, that's virbinum. not poisonous, birds love 'em, sans interet culinaire!

historymike said...

Thanks, McCaskey, for the kudos, and yes - I have a 9/11 piece in the making.

historymike said...

Thanks, Kathleen. Yes, herons are amazing to watch. I saw a Great White Egret in Toledo alomg the Ottawa River last year, and I could have kicked myself for not having a camera. The bird was so absorbed in stalking a crayfish that it was oblivious to my presence (or just didn't care, since I was above it on a bridge).

historymike said...

Good call on the viburnum berries, Microdot. The leaves were the key in identifying the berries.

They are related to cranberries, and, like cranberries, require a dash of sugar to be palatable.

Rose said...

I enjoyed reading your post. What beautiful pictures.


Hooda Thunkit said...

Very tranquil and relaxing Mike.