With lakes, steep hills, and unique oak barrens plants, Lost Lake Nature Park has some of our highest quality natural areas. We conducted a prescribed burn Lost Lake this spring, so come check out the park to see how the fire affected the plant growth!
We’ll work to remove glossy buckthorn and other non-native invasive plants along the shore of Lost Lake. We’ll bring some knee boots and waders if you want to go after buckthorn in the wet areas along the shore!
- Where: Lost Lake Nature Park. Meet in the parking lot by the sledding hill.
- When: Saturday, June 20; Tuesday, June 23; and Tuesday, June 30. All workdays are 9 am to noon. In the event of inclement weather, the events will be cancelled.
- Who: Anyone! This event is free, with no experience necessary. We’ll train you to do the work. You’ll get to work with our stewardship field crew so that you can learn how to manage invasive plants on your own land!
- Why: Why not? We will be remove non-native invasive shrubs to help the native plants thrive. Come out to enjoy beautiful areas and hang out with great people!
- What: Bring water and gloves, and wear closed-toed shoes and long pants. Knee boots or waders will be useful for working in wet areas. We’ll have extra gloves if you can’t bring your own.
We’ll provide water and light snacks. You will need to sign a release form before we begin working. Families are encouraged to attend! All minors will need permission from a parent or guardian to participate, and minors under 14 will need to have a parent or guardian present. We will have lots of fun, so plan to come and share this opportunity with others! The schedule of upcoming workdays can be found at the Volunteer Calendar.
When clear, deep blue stretches across the sky in Michigan in January, it is time to get outside. Fortunately, our weekly Wednesday bird walks offered a great excuse to do just that. We started out at Bear Creek Nature Park on January 7 on a chilly morning. The walk began quietly, but as the sun rose birds began to move and call until we were busy hunting down the sources of loud hammering, persistent chip notes, and musical calls. Fresh snow on the ground captured the path of a small mammal forging through the snow.
Paths in the winter snow at Bear Creek Nature Park.
On January 14 at Cranberry Lake Park we were treated to a thick frost covering the surface of every twig. Ice crystals hanging suspended in the frigid air sparkled as the sun filled them with light. In addition to many of the usual birds we were treated to the calls of a Great Horned Owl in the distance.
Sun shines through sparkling ice crystals long the shore of Cranberry Lake at Cranberry Lake Park
The third Wednesday of January we birded in a snow squall at Lost Lake Nature Park, so I didn’t get any pictures. But this past Wednesday, January 28 at Draper Twin Lake Park was another morning with beautiful blue skies. I snapped this picture as we tried to locate some pesky birds hiding in the underbrush along the eastern wetland.
Animal tracks mark the snow and vapor trails from jets cross the sun. People and animals still need to get places when it is cold!
We’ll be out birding again in February. Remember that I do have a few pairs of extra binoculars that you can borrow for the bird walks. If the weather is nice I usually stick around after the bird walk to remove invasive shrubs for a few hours. You’re welcome to join me. Check out the January Bird Report if you’re interested in the complete list of birds we were able to identify this month. Hope to see you out there next week!
Fall continues to spread here in Oakland Township. The colorful blossoms of wildflowers wink out one at at time, like the lights in downtown storefronts after closing time. We see more fluffy seeds taking to the wind, spreading hope for new seedlings next year. But just as we think the flowers are gone, a new one pops onto the scene! Witch-hazel is blooming!
Witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is a common medium sized shrub in the understory of our oak woodlands. Plants usually have many smooth-barked stems, some of which grow up to 20 feet tall. Unlike most shrubs, including the closely related Ozark witch-hazel (Hamamelis vernalis), it blooms in the fall.
Witch-hazel has weird flowers, with petals often resembling crinkly twisted ribbons.
Several clusters of witch-hazel flowers on a branch.
The leaves and bark of this shrub were used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes, and we still find witch-hazel products offered as an astringent in the health and beauty section at the store.
On many shrubs, the leaves have dropped completely, leaving only the delicate yellow flowers on the stems.
As I looked up information about this cool native shrub, I found that it has explosive fruits, just like jewelweed that I wrote about in an earlier blog post. Apparently the fruits can throw the seeds 10 to 20 feet when they explode in the fall, making a noise. What fun it would be to experience seed dispersal in a stand of healthy patch of witch hazel! If I find some witch-hazel fruits soon, I’ll post pictures here.
If you’d like to find some witch-hazel this fall, hike the trails in the northern part of Bear Creek Nature Park or the trail through Lost Lake Nature Park.
Our resident caretakers at Lost Lake Nature Park, the Fox family, get a front-row seat to all of the cool things happening at that park. Thanks to Angela Fox for sending me these pictures. With its lakes, wildlife, oak barrens, and glacial features, Lost Lake Nature Park is a hidden gem. Make a point to check out Lost Lake Nature Park this summer!
Curiosity and excitement describes the Fox children as they watch this turtle make its way through the park.
As part of the re-design of the sledding hill and waterfront at Lost Lake Nature Park in 2013, the fresh soil was seeded with a mix of native plant species. Fast-growing species, like black-eyed susans, put on a great show this summer.
Sunlight glinting off the lake, sandhill cranes in the grass, and the senrenity of a quiet day. Lost Lake Nature Park is a peaceful place.
Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora) isn’t a fungus, it is a parasitic plant! It forms associations with fungi in the soil and gets nutrients from them. As a result, it doesn’t need chlorophyll (the pigment that makes plants green) to capture light energy and make carbohydrates.
A nest of turkey eggs at Lost Lake Nature Park. A few days after she took this picture, Angela saw the mother turkey sitting on this nest.
Sandhill cranes on the shores of Lost Lake Nature Park.
Sweet-scented waterlily (Nymphaea odorata) is one of the unique aquatic plants you can see from the dock at Lost Lake Nature Park.
Last Saturday morning I headed out to Lost Lake Nature Park to get set up for our volunteer workday. After a glance at the hot weather forecast, I wanted to soak up as much cool morning as I could. I walked out onto the dock with my wife Debbie, we were startled by the loud squawk of two green herons, interrupted during their morning meal.
As I watched the herons fly away, two large shapes on the far edge of the lake caught my eye – deer, probably. No, wait! They were sandhill cranes!
I took this blurry picture of the sandhill cranes at Lost Lake Nature Park through my binoculars.
If you look closely, you’ll see the sandhill cranes in this picture.
At first both cranes stood at attention, wary of the load visitors on the dock. After a while, one crane continued feeding, while the other kept an eye on us. They switched on and off, always with one looking out over the lake. Soon, the cranes spread their wide wings, ascended of the lake, and turned to fly out of view past the trees.
The morning continued with a fun volunteer workday. We knocked out quite a bit of buckthorn around the edge of the lake. If you missed us this time, plan to head out to Bear Creek Nature Park from 9 am to noon on July 12 for the next volunteer workday.
Join us for lots of fun at the next volunteer workday!