Pensive Groundhog is Pensive

Heritage Hill Groundhog

Though I am sure they have been around for a while, this is the first year I have seen groundhogs in my neighborhood. Add these to the raccoons, opossums, skunks, red squirrels, grey squirrels, ground squirrels and chipmunks. It’s like living out in the country.

Blandford Nature Center, 20 April, 2014

Middle of April. Warm enough in the morning to walk around in a sweater and Tilley hat. Hadn’t done that since, oh, sometime in October. What a relief to wander the woods relatively unencumbered! The animals felt it too; frogs, toads, snakes, turtles in abundance. And, of course, birds. Not much in the way of insects, though; not enough mass to store heat for more than a few moments. Anyway, here are a few photos. The rest are in an album here on Flickr.






The most boring chipmunk in West Michigan. Seriously. This little dude sat on that stump, mouth full of food, and didn’t move for at least a minute. Ain’t nobody got time for that!


Shy garter snake.


Painted turtle.

Seidman Park, March 30, 2014

By the end of March the thaw had begun. Temperatures were up and the vast piles of snow were diminishing rapidly. But we had SO much snow that the thaw was (and is) a long, ongoing process. Seidman Park, one of my favorite haunts, was more white than brown or green; but it was still a beautiful day, and a beautiful walk.

I get the sense that the animals in Michigan are a little stunned from the winter.

Some photos here, the rest in their own set over at Flickr.


Seidman Park, out in the woods.


Snow melt creates a temporary stream across the trail.


Deer trail. I imagine the extreme winter and deep snow caused deer to concentrate along more established trails; thus the large amount of deer pellet trails in the forest. I expect that, come summer, there will be long intersecting lines of particularly healthy plants.


One of several turkey feathers I found during my walk. Someone got lucky. Someone else didn’t.

Butterflies at the Frederick Meijer Gardens

On March 15 I visited the Frederik Meijer Gardens with my good friend Andrea, to take in the warmth and butterflies of the arboretum. If you have never been, I recommend the experience. After a winter like that of 2013-2014, any warmth is welcome, and a tropical rain forest is the perfect getaway. Only down side: more people than butterflies. If you can choose a time, go in the morning, preferrably on a weekday. No line to speak of, and fewer people in general. Afternoon on a Saturday is kind of crazy. Anyway: here are some photos. The full set is here on Flickr.


Red Passion Flower butterfly. Good name.


“Paper Kite” butterfly. And when you see them flying around…yeah, they kind of do look like they fit the name.


This one fluttered a little too low.


Emerald Swallowtail. I think this is my favorite of the butterflies on display.


Duck Lake State Park, February 16, 2014

On February 16, feeling like I just wasn’t cold enough, I drove out to Duck Lake State Park and wandered around the lakeshore for a couple of hours. It was a beautiful day, though very cold, and Muskegon County had at that point had a lot of snow. So the walk was also an adventure. Anyway; here are some of the photos. The entire set is posted here on Flickr.


Duck Creek at Duck Lake State Park


Lake Michigan at Duck Lake State Park


Red Breasted Merganser


Ice formation out on the water. This is caused by air pushing up through cracks in the ice. As water is warmer than the ice, it is continually added to the mound, like magma forming and shaping a volcano.

Lake Michigan, Mid-January 2014


Four weeks after my Christmas Eve walk around Kirk Park I returned to Lake Michigan to see what had changed, and to try out my new camera.


The extreme cold of the past few weeks increased the ice cover dramatically, and now the lake is covered out to near the horizon.


The large piles of ice roughly correspond to where the sand bars or shallow regions near the beach appear in the summer.


I walked out to the first large piles. I am certain the ice would have held me out much farther, but it was difficult walking; slick ice interspersed with patches of snow which might also be deep holes.


After an hour here I drove up to Grand Haven State Park, where many people (comparatively) were enjoying themselves on the ice.


The mouth of the channel was apparently the only open patch of water in this area, and therefore there were ducks in abundance.


You can see the entire set here on Flickr.