Left: 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.
Left: 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.
Left: 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.
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.