March 24, 2013
More spring bird sightings! A Turkey Vulture was seen flying over the Windfall Bay area of Kent Lake. It must really be spring at last!
March 11, 2013
Just a reminder....when hand feeding the songbirds on the nature trails, please remember to only feed small songbirds (chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, woodpeckers) that will fly in and land on your hand. Do not hand feed the sandhill cranes or wild turkeys, and please do not drop the seeds on the ground for the squirrels and chipmunks. Some of these animals, if you've visited recently you may have noticed, are becoming accustomed to people feeding them. It is imperative to their survival to be afraid of people and run AWAY from us, not towards us. In addition, these animals can do some serious damage if they wanted to (bite, peck, kick, etc.). So for your own safety, and for the animals safety, please do not drop the seeds on the ground.
March 9, 2013
Red-winged Blackbirds are back! Song Sparrows were also heard singing enthusiastically along with the Black-capped Chickadees, who have begun chasing each other in preparation for setting up territories. Also, Great-Blue Herons have begun to show up at the rookery again. So spring is here! At least according to the birds...
February 25, 2013
Did you know? The first wildflower of the year is just about to bloom! It doesn't look like much, but the flower of Skunk Cabbage blooms in late February/early March, usually when there is still snow on the ground. Back in... the day, the native americans used skunk cabbage as a deoderant! Before they would go out hunting, they would rub the plant on themselves to mask their human scent, and smell like a skunk. Look for this stinky flower in the swampy areas around the Nature Center.
February 7, 2013
Last Chance for Ice Fishing!
This Saturday, February 9th is our last ice fishing program of the season. With the ups and downs of the temperature, we've had ups and downs of the ice thickness. The ice thickness is back up! Give the Nature Center a call if you're interested in giving ice fishing a try. We provide instruction, poles, bait and hot chocolate.
February 2, 2013
Happy Groundhog Day!
None of the groundhogs that make their home at Kensington Metropark saw their shadow this morning. According to groundhog lore this means an early spring. Of course it could also mean that all of the groundhogs are still hibernating.
January 27, 2013
Thanks to last week's deep freeze, we had enough ice to hold our "Basics of Ice Fishing" program yesterday. After some basic instruction indoors, we hiked out onto the ice for some fishing. Participants enjoyed some of the nicest weather this winter and even caught a few fish.
January 6, 2013
The results are in! Forty-four species of birds were counted yesterday during the 37th annual New Year's Bird Count. Fifty volunteers along with the Kensington Metropark Nature Center staff participated in the annual bone chilling event.
January 1, 2013
Kensington Metropark Nature Center's 37th annual New Year's Bird Count will be held on Saturday, January 5, 2013, at 8am. Spend the morning birding, then join us for a bowl of chili at the Nature Center. For more information or to register call the nature center at 810-227-8917.
Decmber 28, 2012
The Sandhill Cranes are still hanging around the nature center. Even with the recent snowfall a group of cranes have been seen patroling the trails around the nature center building. When will they figure out that it's time to migrate? We hope that visitors aren't feeding them, because this will slow their decision to leave for the winter.
December 18, 2012
With the warm (for December) weather, the ice has yet to form on Kent Lake. As a result, many, MANY ducks are using the lake as a stopping ground on their journey south. More than a dozen Tundra Swan were spotted, as well as at least a dozen Trumpeter Swan. Also in the mix are Common Mergansers (dozens), Hooded Mergansers (100+), Ring-neck Ducks (on the west side of Wildwing Lake), Coots, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, and three Bonaparte's Gulls. A scope is necessary as most of the birds are far from the shoreline. Stop in at the Nature Center and see a naturalist for directions or to answer any questions.
November 30, 2013
Last Saturday, “Spike” Kensington Nature Center's, large stegosaurs model, was featured in the Milford Holiday parade. Spike rode down Main Street, along with the Kensington paleontologist, on one of the Farm Center wagons. The parade entry was a group effort of the Farm Center, Mobile Learning Center and the Nature Center.
November 25, 2012
To help with your holiday shopping, Riverbank Book Service will be selling books at the Kensington Nature Center every weekend until December 23rd. Proceeds from the book sale go schools and libraries in south east Michigan.
November 9, 2012
Last weekend, some 30 brave souls practiced their new found wilderness survival skills at the Kensington Nature Center. Participants learned about new ways of direction finding, basic survival kits, and shelter building. Some of the participants photos are shown below.
October 20, 2012
Rosco and the Raptors this weekend
Noon to 4pm Saturday and Sunday
- Rosco the Clown magic shows at noon, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm
- Craig Perdue of Shadow Speak will present Birds of Prey at 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm and 3:30pm
- Book sale noon to 4pm
- Art sale noon to 4pm
October 18, 2012
Bob Hotaling is Retiring
Bob Hotaling will be retiring from the Kensington Metropark Nature Center later this month, after 40 years of service. During his career at Kensington, Bob has presented programs to thousands of visitors. An avid birder, he has traveled all over the world pursuing his favorite pastime. Bob 's last day at Kensington will be October 31st, please stop in for a visit between now and then.
October 10, 2012
It's sure starting to feel like Fall outside and the fall leaf color is nearing peak at Kensington Metropark. There's still alot of green on the trees, but the reds, yellows and oranges are appearing fast. The next couple of weekends should be some of the best for fall color viewing. So get out and play in some of the colorful leaves at the Kensington Nature Center, before the wind blows them all away.
September 13, 2012
Kensington Nature Center's 27th Fall Bird Count was held on Saturday, September 8th. It rained the entire night before but stopped in time for the event. We had a large number of participants, which normally does not occur for this particular count. Seven groups explored Kensington Metropark, producing 101 species, a new record for us. We had recorded 100 species on three previous occasions.
Highlights included Broad-winged Hawk, Red-headed Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Acadian Flycatcher, Philadelphia Vireo, Winter Wren, Marsh Wren, and Savannah Sparrow. Among the 20 Warblers were Parula, Cape May, Pine, Hooded, Wilson's and Canada. It could have been better, as several leaders scouted the day before, locating a Gray-cheeked Thrush and a Yellow-breasted Chat, neither of which we had seen or heard in years. There were six other count period species.
ASTRONOMY AT THE BEACH
Friday, September 21st & Saturday, September 22nd 6pm - midnight
Hubble, Space Station and Beyond
Special guest, NASA Astronaut Andrew J. Feustel, will speak about the Space Shuttle Endeavour's final mission, the Hubble Telescope, the International Space Station, the new Orion and Dragon Spacecraft, and the future of manned space flight. Telescopes will be set up for observations, and several astronomy clubs will present a variety of fun and informative programs. Hosted by the Great Lakes Association of Astronomy Clubs (GLAAC) and the Kensington Metropark Nature Center. This event is FREE with your $5 vehicle entry fee and takes place at Maple Beach, rain or shine. For more information call the Kensington Nature Center at 810-227-8917, or visit the GLAAC web site at: www.glaac.org/kensington.
August 21, 2012
The Sandhill Crane that was limping and taken to the Howell Nature Center to rehab has been reunited with it's family. The bird is now following the others with no difficulty.
Saturday, August 11 9am - 6pm and Sunday, August 12 9am - 4pm
Colonial, British and French re-enactors bring Michigan's history to life. Colonial era camp, military drills and a battle each day. This event takes place in the picnic area at the north end of Martindale Beach.
June 16 and 17, 2012
Kensington Nature Center staff and several volunteers just completed the 11th annual Butterfly and Dragonfly Counts. The Butterfly Count results included 35 species all within the park. The Dragonfly Count was hampered by rain part of the day, but still yielded 15 species. Our thanks go out to everyone who helped.
June 5, 2012 Transit of Venus
Over one thousand people witnessed this once in a lifetime event at Kensington Metropark as the planet Venus crossed the face of the sun. The all day cloud cover opened up just at 6pm, minutes before the this rare astronomical event began. Members of the Great Lakes Association of Astronomy Clubs (GLAAC) were on hand with their telescopes, along with Kensington staff to help with viewing and to answer questions. The next transit of Venus will occur in 2117.
Celebrate International Astronomy Day
Saturday, April 28, 2012
The Great Lakes Association of Astronomy Clubs (GLAAC) will be sharing the wonders and excitement of astronomy from 9am to 4pm. Solar scopes will be set up for safe viewing of the sun. Telescope displays and sky charts will be available for those wanting to get started in this fascinating hobby. Check out the GLAAC website at www.glaac.org for more information on upcoming astonomy events.
New Offerings at the Kensington Metropark Nature Center
Homeschool programs for 2012. Check the education page or contact the nature center for more information.
Adventure Packs are now available at the nature center. Explore the park more closely by checking out an Adventure Pack. Each pack contains binoculars, magnifying glasses, guidebooks, gadgets and activities to help you explore the nature area. Activity cards in each pack explain how to use the materials and equipment. Borrowing a pack is free, but you must leave a driver's license as a security deposit. Adventure Packs are made possible by a generous contribution in memory of David O. Laidlaw, former director of the Huron-Clinton Metroparks.
The nature center now offers nature-themed birthday parties. Contact the nature center for more information.
January 19, 2012
We have a (male) Red-headed Woodpecker that has started coming to our suet feeder today! Hopefully he will become a regular, and many more people will get a chance to see him up-close.
January 9, 2012
A pair of mature Bald Eagles were seen sitting on the Heron Rookery near the Nature Center this morning. The picture below was taken by one of our local photographers along the river near the Farm Center about 10 days ago.
January 3, 2012
A Northern Shrike came by our feeders this morning! While we felt for the Tufted Titmouse that the Shrike flew away with, we couldn't help but get excited to see this uncommon bird just 3 or 4 feet away from the window!
December 28, 2011
Jezebel, the great horned owl, visits the Kensington Metopark Nature Center. Nature Center volunteer, Craig Perdue, presented a bird behavior program and brought his owl to help with the demonstration. Craig works with birds of prey such as hawks and owls. To learn more about Craig's work visit his webite at www.shadowspeak.org.
December 8, 2011
Kensington Metropark Nature Center's 36th annual New Year's Bird Count will be held on Saturday, January 7, 2012, at 8am. For more information or to register call the nature center at 248-685-0603.
November 4, 2011
The red-necked grebe, that was first sighted on Monday, can still be found on Kent Lake. For the specific location contact the nature center.
October 8, 2011
The juncos are back! There's no denying it, winter is on the way. Southeast Michigan is the winter home of this arctic nester, the dark-eyed junco. So if you're feeling sorry for yourself this winter, just remember we're the tropics for some arctic birds.
ASTONOMY AT THE BEACH
Friday, September 9th & Saturday, September 10th 6pm - midnight
See the moon and stars as you've never seen them before! Telescopes will be set up for observations, ans several astronomy clubs will present a variety of starry programs. Hosted by the Great Lakes Association of Astronomy Clubs. This event is FREE with your $5 vehicle entry fee and takes place at Maple Beach, rain or shine.
Tuesday, July 19 and Wednesday, July 20 for ages 8 to 13 $75/child
What do fish eat and where do they like to "hang out?" Make a fish print T-shirt and learn how to make your own tackle. Acquire the fishing skills you need to make your fishing stories come true.
July 3, 2011
The young herons and sandhill cranes have been testing out their wings. They'll be flying soon.
April 11, 2011
Great horned owls are nesting in the heron rookery on Wildwing Lake! At least one owlet has been seen in the nest. Bring your binoculars or spotting scopes. The nest is best veiwed from the bench along the boardwalk, closest to the iron bridge.
March 18, 2011
More signs of spring! Skunk cabbage, the first flower of spring, can be seen along several of the nature trails. The first garter snake of the year was seen on Aspen Trail today.
March 6, 2011
Spring is here, even if the weather doesn't feel like it. Red-winged blackbirds and sandhill cranes have been seen in the nature area and great blue herons are back in the rookery along Wildwing trail.
January 20, 2011
Kensington's 35th New Year's Bird Count was conducted under frigid skies on Saturday, January 8 (we never actually hold the count on New Year's Day, as that would limit the participants). Seven teams of birders accounted for 47 species, about average. We only census Kensington Metropark, so it's limited in scope. Highlights include a Wood Duck, a Northern Pintail, a Common Merganser, one Bald Eagle, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, several Pileated Woodpeckers, one Northern Shrike, a Winter Wren, a few Golden-crowned Kinglets, many American Robins, a Swamp Sparrow, one immature White-crowned Sparrow and a flock of 30 Snow Buntings in flight.
There were also about a thousand Canada Geese and over one hundred Mute Swans - we're not bragging! There was limited open water so ducks were a challenge. We managed to miss Trumpeter Swan, Gadwall, the usual Great Blue Heron, Ring-billed Gull and Pine Siskin.
The owl team tallied five Screech Owls and a Great Horned Owl. No Barred Owl was found.
The Kensington Bird list for 2010 was 183 species, one of our best. One curiosity was a visiting professional ornithologist from Arizona, originally from this area, who added a King Rail to our park list in 1964! So far no one has reported a Passenger Pigeon.
Decmber 9, 2010
There were several sightings of Bald Eagles at Wildwing Lake in the Kensington Nature Area recently.
November 4, 2010
A Virgina Rail was seen today in the cattails near the north end of the boardwalk on Wildwing Trail.
November 3, 2010
Wild turkeys have once again returned to the Nature Center's bird feeders. A new member has been added to the group of toms bringing the number in their rafter (gang) to 10. The toms rarely visit our feeders until well into the fall, usually about this time.
Turkeys visit the Nature Center bird feeders last winter
Family Fun Days
Sat, Oct 16 and Sun, Oct 17 Noon – 4pm
Book sale; insect exhibit; climb the rock wall ($2);
Rosco the Clown and magic shows!
Rosco the Clown and Balloonman Climbing Wall
June 28, 2010
The results are in! Kensington Nature Center just completed our annual butterfly and dragonfly counts this past weekend. With the help of volunteers, a total of 31 species of butterflies were found on Saturday. On Sunday, a total of 18 species of dragonflies were counted. The most common butterfly was the Great Spangled Frittilary (top). The most common dragonfly was the Blue Dasher (bottom).
Get Out and Play at
New to the area? Looking for new opportunities to explore the outdoors? Do you want to find out ways to help the environment? Be sure to join us for Heron Days, May 22-23 at Kensington Metropark Nature Center. Local outdoor and environmental groups will be on hand to answer your questions. Gardeners will enjoy the selection of low-priced, hard to find native plants at our annual plant sale. If you’re new to gardening, you’ll be sure to find the answers you need in one of the wide variety of nature-themed books for sale. Rosco the Clown will keep you laughing with free magic shows on the hour and balloon animals for kids. Live birds of prey and live insects are sure to be a hit with people of all ages.
Heron Days will take place from noon-4pm both Saturday and Sunday. FREE
April 2, 2010
The osprey are back at Kensington! Several osprey sightings been reported throughout the park. While walking the Wildwing trail you may see a pair that have taken up residence on one of the nesting platforms at the west end of Wildwing Lake.
March 19, 2010
The first flowering marsh marigolds were spotted in the nature area today. Look for them in wet places along the nature trails.
March 17, 2010
The Spring Chorus has begun! The first of the singing frogs have been heard at Kensington. Spring peepers (below left) and chorus frogs (below right) have been heard calling in some of the ponds in the park. The sounds are made by males, singing to attract "girlfriends."
A painted turtle has emerged at the nature center pond. After months of hibernation under the ice, the most common turtle in Michigan is once again basking in the sunlight.
March 14, 2010
Spring took awhile to arrive, but the first week of March brought a significant thaw. Sandhill cranes arrived on March 6. Migrating ducks totaled 15 species by March 9, as the open water expanded rapidly. In addition, there were three species of uncommon geese reported - snow, greater white-fronted and cackling, the last being new to Kensington. It's a mallard-sized version of a Canada goose. The unusual geese didn't stay long, but were reported by excellent birders who frequent the park.
Male red-winged blackbirds (above) were late this year, appearing on March 9, followed shortly by grackles, cowbirds, meadowlarks, turkey vultures and killdeer. We had many overwintering robins that are now being joined by a mass of migrants.
Bird species arrive in about the same sequence every year, a combination of weather factors and length of daylight. Spring migrants tend to move in along with warm fronts.
By now, the early spring migrants are here in force, filling the lakes, rivers, marshes, woods and fields. Courtship songs are heard constantly. And, it's only the beginning!
February 21, 2010
The first flower of spring is up at Kensington! Even though snow still covers the ground, skunk cabbage can be seen poking up in some of the wet areas along the nature trails.
February 20, 2010
As you walk the Wildwing trail, keep a look-out along the boardwalk for returning great blue herons. Since 1992, herons have been nesting in the tall trees on the island in Wildwing lake.
Signs of spring at Kensington Metropark 2/3/10
As February progresses, we’ll begin to observe the gradual emergence of spring. Every species of plant or animal is on its own schedule, usually in the same sequence each year. As the days lengthen and the temperatures begin to moderate, changes occur.
One of first signs is the arrival of sandhill cranes. Listen for their loud bugling! Numerous pairs will choose to nest in Kensington, selecting ground sites near water, often in cattail marshes. They normally produce one or two young each year. Once they’re born, the young cranes follow their parents as they wander through wetlands and woodlands.
Other early arrivals are the great blue herons. Since 1992, they’ve been nesting in tall trees on the island in Wildwing Lake. Being social birds, they nest in groups, occupying rookeries. They tend to be noisy by mid spring – listen for their loud squawking.
Cranes and herons are about the same size and shape but are not related. Both are great subjects for photography.
Other birds begin to return by late February or early March. One of the most obvious signs of spring is the appearance of male red-winged blackbirds. Some will remain to stake out nesting territories in the marshes and swamps. Look and listen for the arrival of grackles and killdeer. Robins will invade in large numbers. However, robins often remain in our area in winter, sometimes in large flocks. They feed on berries during the colder months before switching to their normal diet of insects and earthworms.
As the ice melts on the lakes and rivers, migrating waterfowl stop to feed and rest. Most will move further north to their nesting grounds. During the peak, a dozen or more species of ducks may be seen at once. Besides finding ducks, look for geese, swans, grebes, coots and loons.
Among the mammals, chipmunks are once more above ground. They don’t hibernate but tend to sleep during the colder months in their underground dens. Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, do hibernate. Expect them to emerge sometime in March, whenever the ground thaws.
As soon as the ice melts, wetlands become active with the mating calls of frogs and toads. Chorus frogs and spring peepers are usually the first to begin singing. Garter snakes come out of hibernation from their winter dens. Snakes don’t dig their own dens but find holes made by other animals.
The first wildflower of the year is the skunk cabbage, protected by a purplish-green hood. It grows where it’s wet. By late March, expect to see marsh marigold and hepatica. April brings many more species, mostly in the woodlands.
Meanwhile, hand-feeding of winter songbirds brings a lot of pleasure to our visitors. Chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and even downy woodpeckers will take sunflower seeds from your hands. Remember to keep your hands still! Bring your own seed or buy small bags in the Nature Center.
We also have a bird-feeding station by the Nature Center. Many species of seed-eating birds may be observed. While there’s snow on the ground, there’s usually a daily invasion of wild turkeys, sometimes as many as nine birds. They prefer to walk or run, not fly!
You’ll see a lot more if you walk quietly and slowly. To most animals, we’re scary because we’re so big. If you have questions, stop in the Nature Center and talk to the staff. We also welcome calls. Our direct line is 248-685-0603.