Monday, March 18, 2019


Spring may be two days away on the calendar, but according to the birds it's already here!  The surest sign of spring to me is the return of the Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus).  I saw my first blackbird of the year about ten days ago; now they are everywhere in Mid-Michigan. 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Chippewa River Floods (March 2019 Edition)

Over the past few days warm temperatures and rain have caused most of the snow around Mt. Pleasant to melt.  Unfortunately the ground remained largely frozen so none of the water could filter into the ground.  The water had to go somewhere - it pooled on the surface and where it could flow downhill entered the local waterways.  Enough water entered the streams that flood warnings were issued for the Chippewa River and several other local streams.  Today I stopped at several parks in the Mt. Pleasant to check on the state of the flooding - here are some photos.

My first stop was Chipp-A-Waters Park.  The river here is well over its banks and flowing over the Riverwalk Trail.  I waded in to the top of my boots but could not get down the trail without getting my feet wet.

Looking upriver near the canoe landing - the Riverwalk Trail is on the right.

Water over the trail

Great Blue Heron resting on a stump in the woods.

Pedestrian bridge across the Chippewa River - the bridge abutment to the left normally sits several feet above the river level.

Mallard ducks swimming over what is normally dry land.

Those ducks should have been on a leash!

This tree is in what would normally be the main channel of the river.

My second stop was at Mill Pond Park.  The Riverwalk trail continues through Mill Pond Park, but several sections are flooded over.

Looking upstream from an island at the Leaton St. parking lot.

The flow under a pedestrian bridge at Leaton St.

Water flows over weirs creating standing waves.

Looking downstream from the pedestrian bridge - the glide in the center is the spillway of the first of five weirs with tree trunks hung up on the second weir in the background.

A small footbridge is mostly underwater on the far side of the river.

My final stop was at Pickens Field.  From there I crossed a pedestrian bridge to the north end of Island Park.  Pickens Field is the northern terminus of the Riverwalk Trail

Flooded ballfield at Pickens Field

The Michigan Vietnam Memorial is surrounded by floodwaters

A kayaker paddles down the road at Island Park

Water levels were up to the bottom of the bridge connecting Pickens Field and Island Park

This is not the worst spring flooding Mt. pleasant has experienced in the past decade.  2014 saw approximately the same water levels and the spring floods of 2013 were higher.  If you type "flood" in the search box to the right you can find pictures from several more years.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Pi Day 2019

Happy "Pi Day"!  Not pie the pastry, but pi the number.  

The number pi is symbolized by the Greek letter π . We use pi to figure the circumference and area of circles and the volume of spheres and cylinders. The circumference of any circle is its diameter times pi.  The area of any circle is its radius squared time pi.  So what does that have to do with today?

Today is the 14th of March.  Otherwise expressed as 3/14 or 3.14.   Just like the number pi
But, pi doesn't end at 3.14.  The number is thought to be infinite and non-repeating - no one has found the last digit of pi (currently at over one trillion digits and counting) and there is no sequence of numbers that repeats itself within pi!  Written to 100 decimal points pi is...



In celebration of Pi Day, I bought two pies (the pastry) to share at work.  One blueberry pie
and one apple pie.
We are eating pie for mathematics!  This is not just because pi(e) is delicious!
Look at all that math!
Now for a little Pie (pi) related math.  The diameter (the distance across a circle from one side to the opposite side, passing through the center of the circle) of each of these pies is 8.5 inches.  To calculate the circumference (the distance around the perimeter of a circle) we just need to multiply 8.5 inches by pi (3.14).

                  Circumference  = π x diameter

                  Circumference = 3.14 x 8.5 inches

                  Circumference =  26.69 inches

I eat this pie in the name of mathematics!

To calculate the area of the pie we need to know the radius.  Radius is the distance from the center of a circle to the edge of the circle.  This number is one half of the diameter - so if the diameter of these pies is 8.5 inches, the radius would be 8.5 inches divided by 2, which equals 4.25 inches.  The formula for calculating the area of a circle is Area = pi times the radius squared (the radius times the radius). Expressed as a mathematical formula this is A= πr2.

                 Area = πr2
                 Area = π x (radius x radius)

                 Area = 3.14 x (4.25 inches x 4.25 inches)

                 Area = 3.14 x (18.0625 inches2)

                 Area = 56.71625 inches2

That's 56.71625 square inches of delicious per pie!

If I eat 1/6th of the blueberry pie I am eating 9.4527 square inches of pie (56.71625 x 1/6 = 9.4527 inches2)!  

Math can be delicious!

Remember!  This is for the cause of furthering mathematical knowledge!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Crescent Moon (11 March 2019) and an upcoming event

Tonight's waxing crescent moon as seen from my driveway...

Our next full moon will be on the Spring Equinox (20 March) - I am leading a hike that night at the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy's Sylvan Solace Preserve.  For more information, check their website.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

A long reach...

Deep snow can make winter survival difficult for white-tailed deer.  Getting around is difficult and requires more energy.  Most of the food sources are inaccessible, especially if the snow is combined with a layer of ice that prevents deer from digging down to the ground.

Because foods such as grasses, forbs, and nuts are often unavailable, deer survive mostly on a diet of browse (buds, leaves, branch tips) during the winter months.  Where deer populations are heavy, all the food that is easy to reach is already gone by this time of winter.  Sometimes the only food left available in area is high overhead.  It is not unusual to see where deer have browsed as high as eight feet off the ground by standing on their hind legs.

I retrieved my trail cameras this afternoon and was lucky enough that one of the cameras had recorded this behavior.  The deer in this series of images is reaching up to eat needles from an Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis).

Normally I just change out the memory cards in my trail cameras and leave the cameras in the woods, but I decided to remove the cameras completely for now.  Even though its in a public park, the area that I place the cameras is quite secluded when the ground is not frozen - it's in the middle of a swamp.  However, right now its easy to access because everything is frozen over.  I also left a trail of footprints directly to the camera sites.  I also recorded a person on one of the cameras.  This is not the first time I have ever seen a person on one of the cameras, but it was the first time I could tell that they knew the camera was there.  Fortunately, they only smiled at the camera and left it in place.

If this you - Thank you for being an honest person!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Random photos with the same name

Here is a seemingly random collection of thirteen photos from the past five years.  The only thing these pictures have in common is their name IMG_0225.  Why?  Because its February 25th or if you prefer 02/25.  To see a similar random collection of photos here is a post celebrating IMG_0115 from January 15th of 2018.

The best thing about these photos is that they were all taken in locations open to the public - public gardens, nature preserves, local parks, state parks, national lakeshores, national monuments, and national parks.

Dow Gardens, Midland, Michigan (August 2018)

North Higgins Lake State Park, Michigan (July 2018)

Bundy Hill Preserve, near Remus, Michigan (June 2018)

Chipp-A-Waters Park, Mt. Pleasant, MI (November 2017)

Teddy Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota (July 2017)

Devil's Tower National Monument, Wyoming (July 2017)

Hall's Lake Natural Area, near Remus, Michigan (October 2016)

Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Michigan (October 2015)

Lake Michigan seen from Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary, Manistee, Michigan (September 2015)

Peterson Natural Area, Stanwood, Michigan (August 2015)

The Garden Door, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin (July 2015)

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan (September 2014)

Ludington, Michigan (August 2018)