Kensington Park and Indian Springs Park, Michigan, USA

Close enough yet, Tom?

Kensington Park and Indian Springs Park, Michigan, USA

I was following the Fall bird migration along the north shore of Lake Erie in Ontario and then crossed over into Michigan, to visit fellow photographer,Tom Helfrich. Once I found his house in West Bloomfield, Michigan, we planned out a photographic outing to Kensington Park and Indian Springs Park, two of Tom’s favourite stomping grounds. Tom and I spent the day in Kensington Park and Indian Springs Park in Michigan State, two parks which are part of the Huron-Clinton Metroparks system a few miles north of Detroit, Michigan. Although it was a bit late in the season to find Massasauga Rattlesnakes, which we had hoped to find in Indian Springs Park, we found just about everything else.

While Tom and I were wandering along the trails of Kensington Park, Michigan, he mentioned that we might see Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) there. I was doubtful since I had never seen Sandhill Cranes walking around in the interior of a forested area. Not the steadiest or best focused shot that I have ever taken but definitely one of those memory moments. As we walked along the Deer Run Trail or Aspen Trail area of Kensington Park, Michigan, I was certainly surprised to look over and see a Sandhill Crane strolling along through the woods almost oblivious to our presence. As we walked around some more and kept a good watch out for them, we were able to find more. By the time the day was over, we had encountered three or four family groups.

Sandhill Crane on a stroll through the woods - Kensington Park, Michigan

Juvenile Sandhill Crane

One of a family group of four Sandhill Cranes (2 adults, 2 juvenile) foraging in the soft mud along the Deer Run Trail in Kensington Park, Michigan
Juvenile Sandhill Crane - Kensington Park, Michigan

As we were leaving Kensington Park, Michigan, I had to stop to take some more Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) photos. This was one of the adults of a family group of two adults and one juvenile pecking away at the lawn area around one of the parking lots. You can tell that it is in migration mode because it is practicing its flamingo stance already.
Adult Sandhill Crane - Kensington Park, Michigan Juvenile Sandhill Crane - Kensington Park, Michigan

The family of three Sandhill Cranes left the parking lot grass for a walk on the parkway. Maybe the bug hunting was better on the hot pavement.
Taking the young crane out for a walk on a human trail.

While Tom walked along the trail, this doe watched him carefully and I was able to get into a slightly better position to photograph this White-Tailed Deer that was sporting its new winter camouflage colours. I get lots of opportunities to photograph deer along the trails near my home but still nice to see one somewhere else.
White-Tailed Deer - Kensington Park, Michigan

Gray Squirrel - Kensington Park, Michigan Eastern Chipmunk - Kensington Park, Michigan

As if on cue, this very large snapping turtle poked its head above the sea of green duckweed as Tom told me about the existence of this large snapping turtle in this small pond by the Visitor Center.
Snapping Turtle - Kensington Park, Michigan

Another creature that was around in large numbers was young of the Large Milkweed Bug. Milkweed bugs of all sizes were in abundance at Kensington Park and also at other locations during my trip along the Lake Erie shores. Tom hadn’t noticed them before so they had only recently hatched in some locations.

Large Milkweed Bug - Kensington Park, Michigan

Some youngsters of the Large Milkweed Bug - Kensington Park, Michigan

I enjoy photographing mushrooms from low angles with a wide-angle lens. Tom got to his knees for a similar shot. Passersby always look a bit strangely at me when I am lying down on the ground to get this kind of shot so it was nice to have someone else there with me doing the same thing. Caught Tom sneaking up on a mushroom! Easier to get down than to get up – that’s my experience anyway.
Caught Tom sneaking up on a mushroom!
Tom’s shot here:
Here’s the same mushroom from a different angle.
Tom's mushroom looking for a good tree to hide behind LOL

This Great Spangled Fritillary, regardless of how many different angles I tried, always seemed to open its wings best when it was pointing downward so why fight it.
Great Spangled Fritillary - Kensington Park, Michigan

Female Monarch Buttefly - Kensington Park, Michigan

The main migration of Monarch Butterflies had already gone through but there were still a few freshly minted ones around to supply a bit of colour along the trail. The stripes are a bit thicker and darker on the females and the males have black scent glans on each hind wing. The similar Viceroy butterfly has a dark line paralleling the outer edge of the wing.

See a male here:…

See a Viceroy here:…

Once the sun came out a bit, the carp in the pond by the boardwalk in Kensington Park began to come closer to the surface. I had my polarizing filter with me on this trip but, of course, didn’t have it with me for this shot. Therefore, had to get the angle just right so that I could photograph the fish without a lot of reflections from the water surface. I was happy with the result but tough to know until viewed on screen at home.
Carp - Kensington Park, Michigan

A bit surprised to see this wonderful bird still hanging around. I would have it to have considered heading south already.

Great Egret (Ardea alba)
Egret - Kensington Park, Michigan

After trudging through the trails of Kensington Park, Michigan photographing all sorts of flora and fauna, you might be able to imagine Tom’s surprise when we passed this building and I shouted (quietly) “Stop the car. It’s a FlatIron Building!” So named because of their unique shape to fit on a triangular lot, Canada’s oldest FlatIron building is the Gooderham Building in Toronto. Probably the most famous is the Fuller Building of New York City. I’ve always found their design to be interesting. This one in Milford, Michigan is likely the newest one around since not too often triangular business lots around that would fit the purpose.

FlatIron Building

Having got some excitement from seeing a FlatIron Building, I quietly returned to our vehicle and headed to Indian Springs Park. This Park (at least the part that I saw) appears to be a bit drier and a bit sandier and a bit higher elevation. Tom tells there are Massasauga Rattlesnakes living there but we saw none.

An Unknown - Indian Springs Park, Michigan
I have no idea what this is or was. I’m assuming some sort of fruiting body of a plant but really have no idea. Found a couple of them along a trail in Indian Springs Park.

This was something that I hadn’t seen before and therefore was surprised to see not just one but many of these large mounds along the trail. The largest was about 6-8 feet long and about 3 feet high.
Ant Hill - Indian Springs Park, Michigan

After visiting these two parks, we stopped for a bite to eat and I headed back to Leamington, Ontario so that I could get an early start the next day at Point Pelee National Park.

About Ron

Ron has long had an interest in photography and traveling and, in recent years, has had more time to devote to both activities. Long a Pentax user, Ron switched to Nikon gear when he went digital. The advent of the digital SLR camera, and the ease of the internet blogging process, has provided a venue for sharing his photography and travel experience at the local, national and international level. More about Ron
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