Pickerel Lake Park – Fred Meijer Nature Preserve
On Sunday, July 21st, I visited Pickerel Lake Park – Fred Meijer Nature Preserve, which is in northeast Kent County, Michigan. Here’s a link to the county’s website for more information, including how to get there and trail maps.
Here’s another link, from the Michigan DNR that provides an even better description and more information.
One note of warning I should throw in here, Pickerel Lake Park is one of the most popular parks in the area, it can be quite busy. I got there just after 8 AM this morning, and my Subaru was the third vehicle in the parking lot. When I left just after 2 PM, the parking lot was almost full.
I’ll start with a photo of the plaque dedicating the park.
I won’t go into the controversy over the name of the park, because that doesn’t matter to most of you.
It was a fine mid-summer day, I should have had a very good day, but for some reason, I found that most of the photos I shot there didn’t turn out well. I got just over halfway along the trails, and the feeling came over me that the photos I was shooting were all going to be lacking. Part of that was because I just wasn’t on my game today, and I have no idea why. Part of it was because I had to use the wrong lens for so many subjects.
There’s a very nice boardwalk across several parts of Pickerel Lake, it allows you to see many water plants that you wouldn’t be able to get close to otherwise without a watercraft of some type. But, the boardwalk has a handrail to keep people from falling off into the water, and from the walking surface up to the handrail, there’s fencing to prevent small children falling off. So, the only way to photograph the flowers is shooting almost straight down from the level of the handrail down to the flowers. That was too far for any of my lenses other than the Sigma 150-500 mm lens, and that lens does not work well as a macro lens. Here’s a few examples of what I mean.
If it hadn’t been for the fencing, I’d have been laying on my belly on the boardwalk to get closer, and better angles on the flowers.
One other thing, the boardwalk isn’t solid, it bounces around when people are walking on it, you can feel it even when the other people are still some distance away from you. That makes it harder to hold the camera steady.
If this sounds too negative, I don’t mean it to be, the entire park is great, except for the boardwalk for photography purposes, at least that’s what I found.
Now then, with my excuses out of the way, there are about five miles of trails in the park, one main trail around Pickerel Lake, including the sections over the lake, and also several short loops off that main trail. I hit most of them today. There are restrooms and drinking water available, after crossing the first section of boardwalk across the lake.
Two of the loops take you uphill into wooded areas, one takes you along the edge of a larch swamp.
I’ll bet that this park is a birding paradise in the spring before the foliage is fully developed as I saw many different species of birds, but only managed a few photos.
I think that you’ll get a better idea how thick the foliage is from these two wide shots looking across the lake.
Here it’s the middle of July, and everything is as green as the middle of May! You can also see that except for the lake, nearly the entire park is heavily wooded.
I could list all the species of birds that I saw, but that would take up too much room, suffice it to say that most species of songbirds common to southern Michigan were present, and in quantities.
There were also many insects of various types.
I also saw a few interesting fungi along the way.
And although they aren’t fungi, I guess this is a fitting spot for the Indian pipes I spotted.
And that leaves me with the flowers, most of which I can not identify.
It really surprised me how many different wildflowers I saw there from what I’m used to. This park is about halfway between the home where I grew up, and the home I owned to the north.
Oops, almost forgot the turtles.
I will definitely being going back, and soon. I went this time expecting to concentrate on birding, so I left the Sigma on the camera far too much of the time. As thick as the foliage is, that was a poor choice. I’d have been better off using the L series lens most of the time, and finding ways to get better photos of the flowers.
I’ll also go back in the spring, as I’m sure that I’ll get bird photos then.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!