A Week in Pictures

Sunday June 30, 2019

Today Mel and I went in search of somewhere different to take pictures so we drove north of Kalamazoo for about an hour and looked for a preserve that I had found online. The description I had read sounded great and the reviews were good, but when we arrived, the trail didn’t look very promising. We were deposited at the end of a cul-de-sac by our GPS and were facing a very narrow path through a heavily wooded forest. We were actually looking for more open spaces– and water if possible. Both features would be better for finding birds and bugs and flowers. So, we drove 10 or 15 miles east looking for another park I’d found online and ended up at the East Paris Park Nature Loop in Kentwood.  This park has an .8-mile paved trail that passes through wetlands, ponds and a small forest. Perfect!

Swamp Rose
Turtle bones at the edge of the pond (Mel’s shot)

Monday July 1, 2019

I only had a small window of opportunity to go for a picture walk today so I grabbed my camera late in the day and walked over to Western Michigan University’s Business Technology and Research Park, which is right next door to where we live. Aside from the shortcut I had to take through a patch of tall grass, the business park is paved. Usually I prefer a dirt path to a paved one, but these days, with all the rain we’ve had, I’ve been gravitating towards un-muddy, paved trails. I have also been gravitating towards paved trails because the dirt paths, if they are narrow, usually have tall grass skirting the edges and are prone to have ticks. I do not want to be bitten by a tick.  They carry Lyme’s disease. Mind you, I’d walk through a whole field of tall, wet, sticky weeds if it meant getting a good picture, but I’m not a fan of a pointless stroll.

Barn Swallow

Tuesday July 2, 2019

Because we’ve had so much rain lately, I decided, once again, to find a paved rather than a dirt trail for my picture walk and I ended up in Portage  on my favorite section of the bike trail. No sooner had I started down the trail when I was caught off-guard by a brief but unexpected rainfall. Not knowing how long the rain would last, I started frantically searching for a way to keep my camera dry and spotted a nearby trashcan that had a lid! Fortunately, I never had to resort to placing my well-loved traveling companion in a bin full of banana peels, sticky pop cans and ants, but I was close!

The Portage bike trail wanders through wooded areas and ponds and is usually a really good place to find birds and other critters. Besides the ubiquitous ducks and geese, I’ve sometimes spotted Great Blue Herons, Green Herons, Cedar Waxwings, and an occasional mink!

Little bunny munching leaves in the grass

Today’s bonanza, however, was of the amphibious kind— lots and lots of frogs! Grumpy frogs, sad frogs, croakers and jumpers! Did you know that a jumping frog often lets out a loud squawk before catapulting itself into the air?? On more than one occasion, when I have been walking in quiet contemplation, I have been jolted back to reality by the unexpected “SQUAWK” of a frog leaping into the water! It always takes me by surprise!

Contemplative Bullfrog
Bloated Frog

Wednesday July 3, 2019

Today, against our better senses, Mel and I decided to go for a late afternoon walk through one of our nearby preserves, the Wolf Tree Nature Trail. It was so, so unbearably hot that we didn’t last long at all. I was about to say here that I’ve never ever felt that hot, sticky and miserable in my life, but I had. It was 4 years ago in the deep, south, when Mel and I were backpacking on the Appalachian Trail.  It was 90 hot degrees and very humid, just like today– only we had the added discomfort of carrying 30 pound backpacks and walking uphill. Today was almost that miserable, but not quite! At least today I could go home to air conditioning and a refreshing shower! Back then we were five days stinky with no shower in sight!

Juvenile Robin
Field Sparrow
Bee on Coneflower (Mel)

Thursday July 4, 2019

I walked back to WMU’s campus again today for a late afternoon walk and it was still hot– but not as hot as yesterday. Thank goodness! If I had gone home early, there’s so much I would have missed—flowers, dragonflies, birds, butterflies, and a sweet young deer less than 10 feet from me! What a treat!

A sweet young deer who was unconcerned about my proximity
Monarch Butterflies in the throes of passion!
Noisy Red-winged Blackbird!

Juvenile Robin
Red-winged Blackbird, female

Friday July 5, 2019

Mel and I both headed out late in the day to the nearby Al Sabo Preserve bike trail. Once again we chose a paved trail in order to avoid the tall grasses and muddy patches on the non-paved trails. It was still hot, but not unbearably so and we lasted more than an hour and a half. The fields along both sides of the bike trail were covered in tall grass and wildflowers and were exploding with dragonflies– Halloween Pennants, Calico Pennants, Widow Skimmers, Twelve-spotted Skimmers, Pondhawks, and a totally new one for me, a beautiful Spangled Skimmer! I couldn’t believe how many dragonflies there were! I’ve really never seen so many in one place at one time! It was great fun trying to ‘capture’ them in all of their artistic poses!

Twelve-spotted Skimmer, male
Spangled Skimmer, female
Spangled Skimmer, male
Widow Skimmer, male
Widow Skimmer, female
Halloween Pennant taking the microphone
Virginia Ctenucha Moth on Lance-leafed Coreopsis (Try to say THAT fast five times!)

Hopefully, better weather is in our future—but, to live in Michigan is to always hope for better weather!

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