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County Parks Tour (Manchester area)

Another installment on our county parks tour. When we printed out our map of the county with the parks marked for easy locating, Calvin and I decided that we would cluster some of the parks together to cut down on the amount of driving. Some of those cluster spots are in the southwest corner of the county, and today we visited two parks that make up one of them: Clark and Avis Spike Preserve and Sharon Shorthills Preserve. The Sharon Shorthills are a geologic phenomenon left behind by glacial activity in our area. They are characterised by long, rolling hills interspersed with broad valleys. The area is in stark contrast to the rest of southeast Michigan, which is fairly flat.

The two parks we visited today illustrate the best of the area for sure. Clark and Avis Spark Preserve is situated in one of the areas valleys. It is a fairly open and flat wetland between farm fields. Vague paths are mowed, marking out less than a mile of trail between the tall grasses. It was a peaceful visit for us. Early in the morning the sun was warming and the dew and mist clung to everything, creating a rather sureal look. We saw several interesting insects, beautiful wildflowers, and two bird species that were completely new to us, and we heard the Boblink again, although we were not able to spot the singer.

After CASP, we drove around the corner to our next stop at Sharon Shorthills Preserve. This park is situated atop and between rises in the hills, giving it the greatest elevation variation of all our county parks. It has only about a one mile trail, but the habit changes from field to wetland and pine forest to deciduous forest throughout. Our order of visits just happened that way, but in hindsight it would have been a great plan anyhow, since it was nice to be in the mostly wooded and shady perserve as the morning warmed up. This second stop also provided great wildflower and insect viewing, and we saw one bird species entirely new to us here as well. We also got to hear and see another wood thrush, and our first American Toad of the season.

Clark and Avis Spike Preserve

Pied-billed Grebe (seen not in the park, but in a pond by the side of the road on the way)

Cedar Waxwing

Willow Flycatcher (a first sighting for us)

Willow Flycatcher

Getting a good shot of some Common Valerian

Common Valerian, Photo by Calvin

Baltimore Checkerspot Caterpillar

Photo by Calvin

Eastern Meadowlarks (Identifiable by the yellow with black necklace: a first ever sighting for us, so worth the poor picture)

Golden-backed Snipe Flies, photo by Calvin

Yellow Coreopsis

Photo by Calvin

Pearl Crescent Butterflies

Spotted Lady Beetle

ID uncertain. Looks like a Little Glassywing Butterfly, but seemed larger and has a white spot under the wing.

Red Admiral Butterfly

Yellow Salsify

Unidentified. This was a flowering bush, not a wildflower.

Eastern Wood-pewee (identified mostly by his call)

Acadian Flycatcher (Identified using markings and call)

American Toad


Horsetail with its fertile cone

Hoary Alyssum

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