A Week Full of Surprises

May 19, 2019

It’s been a week since I last wrote. In the intervening days, I’ve visited a wide variety of preserves or nature trails in our little corner of the state.  

Yellow Warbler singing its little heart out!

On Tuesday, I went to the Ott Biological Preserve in Battle Creek. I had spent the day not far from the preserve babysitting my grandson and decided it would be fun to explore Ott at the end of the day and see what it had to offer. The last time I had been there was over a year ago and, even though I hadn’t found much back then, I thought it was worth taking a second look and was pleasantly surprised at what I found– Black-throated Blue Warblers, Yellow Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks! The Black-throated Blue Warbler is a very new bird for me. I’d never even heard of it before!

Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak

The following day, I decided to take a bit of a road trip north and revisit the trail along the Thornapple River in Middleville where  Mel and I had attended our first Woodpecker Fest  a few weeks ago. I decided to go late in the day hoping I might see more birds than I would in the middle of the day. I actually have no way of knowing whether I saw more birds later in the day than I would have earlier in the day, but I was not disappointed!  There were Baltimore Orioles, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Grackles, Wood Ducks, Sandhill Cranes, Great Blue Herons, Palm Warblers, Mallards, Tree Swallows, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Red-headed Woodpecker, and my very first Yellow-throated Vireo. In addition, I also ‘caught’ a Blandings Turtle and a Spiny Soft Shell Turtle! Given all of the things I saw, I’m thinking this trail would probably be great no matter what time of day you go! There’s just so much here to attract birds and other wildlife!

Male Tree Swallow
Female Mallard
Sandhill Crane
Nine on a log
Canada Goose

On Friday, Mel and I both decided to go for a picture walk at nearby Chipman Preserve. Once we arrived, Mel and his camera went one way and I went another. He was looking mostly for plants and I was looking mostly for birds. Ironically, he found the most interesting bird (an Indigo Bunting) and I found the most interesting plant-related thing (juniper-apple rust).

Indigo Bunting
Juniper-apple rust/Cedar-apple rust
“In virtually any location where apples or crabapples and Eastern red-cedar coexist, cedar apple rust can be a destructive or disfiguring disease on both the apples and the cedars.
Mel’s beautiful Lupine
Male Tree Swallow
Gray Catbird

At the end of our day together yesterday, Mel was yearning for a hot cup of coffee and a quiet read at his favorite coffee shop and I was yearning for a quiet walk among the birds with my camera. So, he went his way and I went mine and we were both happy. My walk didn’t yield a lot, but it did produce a few surprises—my first American Lady butterfly, my first bullfrogs of the season, and a snake sleeping in a tree!

Northern Water Snake
I almost missed this! As I was walking down the path, I thought something was not quite right about the tree I’d just passed, so I went back for a closer look.
I was surprised to find this snake!
Goose Family out for a bit of a swim
Goose Daddy keeping the kids in line!

All in all, it was a full week of fun surprises!

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