Friday, April 10, 2015

A Walk in the Park (10 APR 2015)

My morning programs today were cancelled due to a power outage so I took the opportunity to go into Mt. Pleasant and take a walk around a couple of the parks.

My first stop was Chipp-A-Waters Park.

At the trailhead, there was a single Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) grazing on the grass along the river.  Canada Geese are essentially a tundra species, they evolved to graze on low growing grasses and forbs.  In recent years they have greatly increased their range.  Rather than migrating to the Arctic, many now spend their summers happily grazing on the artificial grasslands that we have created on golf courses, airports, athletic fields, and lawns where they are now considered a nuisance.

A short way down the trail, one of the many dead ash trees had been knocked over by the high winds of the last 24 hours.  This tree completely blocked the trail.  I had to scramble over the trunks to get around it.

The main reason for my walk was to check on the growth status of wildflowers.  So far there is not much to be found.  I did find the leaves of Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum) poking up in patches throughout the woods.

In one spot, I found the remains of the eggshells from a Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) nest that I photographed last May.  

There was not a lot of green growth to be found, but a patch of bright green moss caught my eye.  The structures sticking up above the moss are plants' fruiting bodies.  These structures release the spores from which new mosses grow.

Much of the forest at Chipp-A-Waters Park used to consist of Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) trees. The majority of these trees have been killed by Emeral Ash Borer larvae.  Once the ash trees die, they quickly become infested with  ants ans the larvae of other beetles.  Woodpeckers soon begin to tear apart the trees in search of these sources of food.

Many of the ash trees has already fallen over due to high winds.  Once the trees fall, the bark quickly sloughs of the tree exposing the galleries that were created by the burrowing Emerald Ash Borer larvae.  The D-shaped holes made my the emerging adult beetles is clearly visible on the bark.

Walking back toward my truck I was pleased to see that at least one of the American Black Ducks that I saw during the winter is still hanging around Mt. Pleasant.

After leaving Chipp-A-Waters Park, I drove to Mill Pond Park to see if the river had overflowed its banks .  Arriving at the Leaton St. parking lot I saw a female Wild Turkey sneaking out of the woods into a small patch of cover.  I took several pictures from my truck.  When I got out she flew out of the cover and across to the east/south bank of the river.

The Chippewa River is at its banks in Mt. Pleasant, but has not yet flowed out into the floodplain.  The current is running strong and is full of sediment.  The color of the river is very much like chocolate milk.

I expect that the river will rise above its banks sometime in the next 24 hours as water runs out of its tributaries into the main channel.

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