Monday, April 29, 2013

What's in the woods? - 29 April 2013

The weather has improved considerably here in Mid-Michigan over the last week.  Spring has finally started to arrive in force.  Many of the spring ephemeral wildflowers are growing quickly and will be in bloom by the end of the week - this puts them about 10 days behind a normal spring. 

I took a walk at Chipp-A-Waters Park in Mt. Pleasant yesterday morning to check on the status of the wildflowers there.  Much of the floodplain forest is still flooded from the rains of the past few weeks, but the river is back within its banks now.  Here are some of the species that I found.

A Blanding's Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii or Emys blandingii) was sitting in the grass along the side of the trail.  Easily identified by its bright yellow chin and throat, the Blanding's Turtle is listed as a Species of Special Concern in Michigan.

Blanding's Turtle
The woods at Chipp-A-Waters Park is home to several old river channels and the natural levees that bordered thos channel.  The presence of these features means that there are a number of different habitats within the forest.  The old channels are filled with floodplain forest and the levees are covered with American Beech - Sugar Maple Forest.  One of the levees provides the best spring wildflower show in Mt. Pleasant's park system.  These wildflowers should probably be at peak by this weekend.

Large-Flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) and Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) - note the blue stems

One of a pair of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) in the oxbow pond near the end of the trail

A Canada Goose pair

Boxelder (Acer negundo) flowers

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