01 February 2015

A Bog Just Off the Interstate

During a trip west this past summer, I reviewed maps for possible dragonfly spots near I-94 in Michigan.  I found a park named Bishop's Bog Preserve in Portage, just south of Kalamazoo. Bogs aren't generally easily accessible and I thought this might be a good break in the multi-hour drive.

sign showing the adjacent parks in Portage, MI

This preserve is part of a multi-park complex connected by hiking and bike paths.  During my visits (beginning and end of my trip), I spent more time than originally intended since the parks offer access to a variety of habitats: bogs, forest, fields, marsh, and lakes.

On my first visit I started from Schrier Park at the south end of the complex.  This area includes open grassy areas and trails through mature forests and connects to the Bishop's Bog boardwalk.
On my second visit I found that access to the bog was faster from the north at South Westnedge Park.  I actually parked at West Lake Nature Preserve which also has a nice loop boardwalk in the bog adjacent to West Lake and also a marsh trail.

West Lake bog loop boardwalk.  This gives the feeling of being "up north".
On August 14th, 2014, this area provided a new species for Kalamazoo County with Mottled Darner (Aeshna clepsydra). 

male Mottled Darner (A. clepsydra)

Marsh Trail sign.  There is more than a "potential" for wet shoes.
 The Bishop's Bog and Marsh Trail boardwalks are actually floating by utilizing connected plastic planks.  The walk can be refreshing on a hot summer's day as you will get wet (feet and lower legs) from the water squirting up with almost every step.  The southern portion of the Bishop's Bog boardwalk is encroached on both sides by non-native buckthorns with scattered openings, while the northern portion is open along the entire length.

Northern end of the floating boardwalk at Bishop's Bog

During a visit on August 18th, 2014, I was searching this northern end and spied a Painted Skimmer (Libelulla semifasciata) working an area with open water.  Fortunately, there were similar areas on either side of the boardwalk and the dragonfly would periodically fly from one to the other.

With patience, I was able to time my position on the boardwalk with one of its crossings and snag this male for a new late date in Michigan.

male Painted Skimmer (L. semifasciata)

I'll definitely plan to check this location out in future trips since there must be so much to see given the habitat, flora, and fauna during varying times of the year.