2016-11-20

Nordhouse Dunes ecology

Here's a panoramic photo of some of the dunes (click through to really see it)
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We spent a week near Nordhouse Dunes in northern Michigan, on the edge of lack Michigan. We went on a number of dayhikes, just enjoying the interesting ecology. It was actually highly varied. A lot of it was wooded, some was hardwood forest like below

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But there was also white pine forests and red pine forests. In the more open areas ferns grew everywhere and probably the most wintergreen I've ever seen. 

The bare dunes are out by the water where supposedly there are plovers that run up and down the beach... though they are very hard to spot (we never saw any).

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We saw several plants we only recognized due to picking seeds on Adam's farm. It's amazing how once you've worked with a plant a little you start seeing it everywhere

I *think* this is a liatris, I'm more sure about the one next to it. I suspect they are the same, but I'm not certain.
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And this looks like an interesting goldenrod
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Both plants we helped gather at Adam's

We also saw aster, and either dolls-eye or a close relative, out on the open dunes. Sadly I didn't get pictures of those.

We ended up bushwhacking out to a dry lake bed IMG_20161107_111407

The mud was just covered in tracks. below are a bunch of what I think are coon prints. We stared at some other prints for a long time and I kept thinking they must be mustilid of some kind (I believe it had 5 toes on both sets of feet, and the hind foot seemed to be in the rear), but I'm still not sure. Sadly I didn't get a photo of those.

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The bare dunes were good for prints too. I think are just a squirrel that didn't put down it's heal on it's hind feet.
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I guess I didn't mention the beech trees, which were just amazing colors.

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We camped in the site above for the whole week, a nice hiking distance from the water before moving to another part of michigan for the next week. The nordhouse dunes were pretty gorgeous at this time of year and we were lucky to get there just before the leaves finished the show.

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