Things I Learned On My Hike Today

I love being outdoors; wandering around in the wooded areas has always been one of my favorite activities. So, here are some things I learned on my hike today.

1. In the back area, the Maple River breaks off into smaller creeks. One of these creeks are located on the back property. I love going down there to photograph wildlife.  Jumping over the small opening that leads to the creek was a lot easier when I was sixteen. I made the jump for the most part; I just got stuck in the mud. Oh well, my boots can handle it. I wouldn’t expect anything less for springtime in Michigan.

The Creek

  1. The smallest little creatures can cause me to jump if I am not paying attention to the trail. Yes, this tiny frog about gave me heart failure.

Frog in the Trail

  1. The flowers popping up all over on the dull, muddy grounds are a welcome sight. The small beauties stand tall against the last remnants of winter.

Wild Flowers

  1. The most unusual places can provide the biggest inspiration. I admit there are days where I could just spend hours sitting in the middle of the woods. (I need to remember to carry a note pad with me.) Being outdoors is good for my creative soul.

A Place in the  Woods

  1. The snakes are out. I am not really afraid of snakes especially this harmless Garter snake. But I am concerned I will accidently come across one that is just “not nice”. Growing I was always told about poisonous snakes, I think the stories are always in the back of mind. The only snake in Michigan that is poisonous is the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake. Or commonly known as the Michigan rattler is known to be a rare sight. But they do like the wetlands and the wooded areas which is where I frequent. I have never come across one in the wild.

Garter Snake Garter Snake

  1. I came across this wonderful pair of Canadian Geese who were not happy with my presence. They were both very vocal. I am assuming she had a nest nearby; I didn’t want to disturb her too much.

b2

  1. Even in the muddiest water, there are signs of life.

Snail

I hope everyone had a chance to get out and enjoy the sun today. Now, the sky is beginning to cloud over; there’s a 90% chance of rain for the overnight. So, I am glad I was able to get out for a couple of hours. I can fill the rainy days with writing.

Until next time….peace

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What’s the Sparrow Watching?

I was out taking photos early this evening. Being a cool Michigan day, I did not see a lot of wildlife moving around. So, I decided to spend time photographing the various birds that come to my feeder on a daily basis.

The Sparrows this evening drew my attention immediately. The little birds were all lined up on top of my feeder bar which holds various feeders, suet, etc. I could not see what the Sparrows were watching.  Yet, they would move their heads from one side to another. Of course, I just began snapping photos while I watched them.  I was instantly intrigued.

Once I was able to view the photos on my computer screen, I realized the Sparrows were actually watching little bugs. From where I was standing, there was no way for me to see the little bugs flying around them. I cannot tell you the type of bugs.  I barely can see them in the photo.  I just found the situation interesting.

I guess, you need a long lens and a computer scree to get a “bird’s eye view”.

Until next time…peace…

Save the Frog Day

I was just informed that today, April 25, 2015 is also “Save the Frog Day”. I absolutely love frogs. During the warm months, I have all the windows open and the frogs “sing” me to sleep at night. There’s just something about listening to frogs (and crickets) on a warm summer night to remind me why I live in the country.

Why Have a Save the Frog Day?

Amphibians are considered to be one of the most endangered little creatures on the planet. In fact, over “1/3 of the world’s species are on the brink of extinction” (SavetheFrog, 2015). I cannot imagine a world without frogs. Their “voice” would be gone forever.

The Threats

Of course, the main threat to frogs comes from humans. Humans have caused reduced habitants, pollutions from various pesticides and over harvesting for food consumption. Climate change and infectious diseases also play a part in the reduction of the amphibian population. Often there is a combination of two different factors to cause a decrease in the frog population. A reduced immune system due to a pesticide can leave a frog susceptible to infectious diseases.

How to Help

One of the best ways to help is by being aware of the situation. Participate in local recycling programs; less pollutants and debris in the environment is a major step in the right direction. Properly dispose of household chemicals, unused paint, and other hazardous materials at proper collection station. When pollutants and pesticides get into the water; all wildlife is at risk.

If everything goes as planned, I am actually going to have a pond dug in my yard. There’s already a two ponds on the back property and the main creek runs through it as well. But I want a pond in my yard. Don’t get me wrong I love walking down to see all the wildlife. However, there are days were my schedule is tight; I still would live to be able to go out to view different creatures. Yes, I do plan to use the area for photography reasons.

Until next time….peace.

Source:

www.SavetheFrog.com  (they have free newsletter)

 

Go Birding Day

Today, April 25, 2015 is “Go Birding Day”. Other wards, the entire day is dedicated to watching our fine feathered friends. I am an avid bird watcher. I never started out as one; bird watching is form of recreation. Recreation is all about finding an activity to while not at work or meeting any other responsibility that seems to full our daily lives.

Over the last two years, I really have begun to enjoy all aspects of  bird watching. I never thought I would be the person who would actually go searching for a particular bird to view and photograph. My area in Michigan had a wet start with lots of standing water which brought a lot of new birds to my area. I have always enjoyed being outdoors and photographing wildlife; bird watching was just a new component of this activity.   Bird watching is also an activity that my mother can join.

Equipment Needed for Bird Watching

The great thing about bird watching is that the type of equipment you invest in is up to you.  You can simply take a walk through your local park or hiking trail and try to figure out which little featured creature is making chirping noises in your direction.  Or if you really want to get into the activity you can buy expensive spotting scopes.

These are the items that I take with me:

  • A pair of binoculars
  • My camera which actually travels everywhere with me.
  • a field guide (I know a lot of people use apps which is great, but mom and I like looking at the book to see what species we are viewing.)
  • Pencil and notepad (I take this along to jot notes; I use a lot of my experiences for writing and I want to remember everything that I view).
  • Water (I have recyclable container that hooks to my camera bag. It is important to stay hydrated while out walking around especially if you are in a wooded area).
  • Cell phone (I turn mine on silent while I am out walking. Accidents can happen; a slip and fall can ruin your hike. A cell phone is just extra precaution in case of emergency).

Know the Area

I am fortunate.  I live in a rural area which is surrounded by wetlands along side the Maple River; the common Michigan river flats are all around me.  I spend a lot of time on the back property where I can view numerous birds and other wildlife.  But I do like to venture out into other trails and preserves.  When I am getting ready to go to a new trail, I download the map either to paper form to have with me or to my phone.  I know a lot of the trails are marked, but I like the extra precaution.

Safety

Remember to wear appropriate clothing and footwear.  The trails can be long; you want to make certain that you are comfortably dressed.  Also, obey the signs; the signs are there for your safety.

These are only a few aspects of bird watching. Have fun and be safe as you look for that rare species which only turns up doing summer months when the birds migrate back to the area.

 

96th Birthday!

Today, I was able to take my great Aunt out for her 96th birthday. We were joined by my mother, sister, and niece. We went to a local restaurant in town; the food and service was wonderful.

My great Aunt has never been married. She worked hard all of her life.I asked her if she regrets not getting married. Her answer was quick “no”. Then, she smiled and said, “you remind me of me” which of course made me smile. She said life should not be about regrets. Just live each day as it comes.

I cannot think of any greater advice! So, I hope everyone who reads this lives a life without regrets….

Until next time…..peace….

 

Arbor Day

Today, April 24, 2015 is Arbor Day. So, what exactly is Arbor Day? In the simplest terms, Arbor Day is the celebration of trees; the overall importance the trees bring to the environment, planet and our very existence. I love being able to photograph birds and other wildlife as they play among the trees.

History of Arbor Day

Why the name Arbor? In Latin, the name arbor actually means tree which is perfect fit. Arbor Day is celebrated around the world. The dates may vary but the celebration is the same. The very first Arbor Day can actually be traced back to 1805 to a small Spanish village, the Villanueva de la Sierra. In the United States, the first Arbor Day was organized in Nebraska City, Nebraska. Approximately 1 million trees were in planted in Nebraska on April 10, 1872. The early beginnings sparked a worldwide observance for the importance of trees.

Arbor Day Foundation

To help aid in the observing the celebration of trees, the Arbor Day Foundation was created in 1972 by John Rosenow. The foundation helps in the efforts of selling trees and merchandise as a way to promote Arbor Day. The mission of the Arbor Day Foundation is “”to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees”.

Michigan Arbor Day Alliance

The Michigan Arbor Day Alliance wants to promote the celebration of Arbor Day throughout the year. I agree with this concept, I like the idea of day of observance to bring everyone’s attention to the importance of trees on our daily lives. However, I think the promoting of planting and caring for trees should be done every day.

Personally, I cannot plant trees today. The weather is just not cooperating. Even though I do see the sun finally peeking through the clouds; the weather forecast is looking better for next week. I do plan to plant more trees this spring. I want more fruit trees planted (if funds permit). I am trying to create my own fruit orchard in my yard. I have a good start so far, but I want to add to my collection. By planting fruit trees, I am observing Arbor Day (just a little later in the spring).

Sources:

www.miarbordayalliance.org

www.arborday.org

 

National Picnic Day

According to Giftypedia, today is National Picnic Day. I like unofficial holidays that promote being outdoors. Of course, here in Michigan a picnic would be a very cold venture. The last couple days have brought wind and even a little snow.  But the weather is normal for springtime in Michigan. The forecast shows warmer weather on the horizon.

I love the idea of spending a lazy afternoon outdoors on a warm summer day with a picnic basket (and a camera). As an adult, I think the concept of having a picnic is almost a romantic notion.

When I was a child, we would always have picnics when we went traveling up north. The day before our travels, my mother would buy a bucket of chicken.  The chicken would be our main treat on the picnic.  My mom would make potato salad or macaroni salad as a side dish.  She would allow for chips and pop as a special treat.

We would leave early in the morning, My siblings and I packed in the back of the car, the first main stop would be Mackinaw. After reaching the Mighty Mac, we wold unpack for a picnic which was always at the park right by the bridge. We would eat and wander down to the water where seeing the Mackinaw Bridge up close was an awesome sight. I even took pictures back then.

So, where is your favorite place to have a picnic? Do you have memory to share?

Until next time….peace….

Earth Day Facts

Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22.  Earth Day has become an event on how to connect and celebrate nature as well as get educated about pressing environmental issues. We must all take a moment to see how we impact the environment and what actions can be taken to help lessen the effect.  Here are some facts about Earth Day.

Who Came Up with Earth Day?

Earth Day was thought up by Senator Gaylord Nelson who was a Democrat from Wisconsin. Nelson was inspired by the various types of protests and teach-ins that took place throughout college campus everywhere.  Nelson decided that he wanted to apply that concept to a larger scale that would bring focus to the environment

When Was the First Earth Day?

The first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970 with approximately 20 million people in attendance at various rallies across the United States.  Earth Day is now recognized in over 180 countries with over 1 billion people taking part in the day. Social media has helped spread the news of Earth Day and the environmental issues which the day represents.

Earth Day has even become a part of various teaching curriculums in schools around the globe. By introducing Earth Day activities in the curriculum teachers and environmentalists are hoping the events will have a lasting effect on the children.

Other cities around the globe have turned Earth Day into a weeklong celebration.  The concept is to have a lasting effect on those who participate in the activities.  The activities act as way to remind people the value of going green in their local communities.

How Many Jobs Does Recycling Produce?

Many people believe that recycling is a waste of time and effort.  However the effort does pay off.  Approximately, 3.1 million jobs in the United States are from recycling and remanufacturing.  The impact of simple recycling can have long reaching results.

Plastic Bottles

The convenience of plastic bottles takes up space in landfills.  Most of us are guilty of grabbing that bottle of water at the local gas station as we head out for the day.  In fact in the United States there is over 200 billion beverage containers sold in any given year.  The number is staggering.  So is the fact that almost two-thirds of these containers will end up in a landfill or on the side of the road.  This is one of the reasons why recycling plastic containers is so important.

Air Pollution

Air pollution is becoming a growing problem in many areas around the globe.  The fact is that polluted air can cause lasting damage on the human body.  Over 2 million people will die each year due to air pollutants.

There are many more facts about Earth Day and the environment.  Take a moment; look up ways to participate in a local event.

Sources:

http://www.henslernurseryindiana.com/

www.mnn.com

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!!

    Why celebrate Earth Day? I think for me, the question would be, “why wouldn’t I celebrate Earth Day?” As a lover of the great outdoors, I think we should all be aware of out impact on our local environment and the planet as a whole. If everyone would just take the time to participate in some small way; the overall impact would be great. I have seen firsthand how trash, pollutants and debris can litter up the local landscape, river and wooded areas. Begin in small ways by recycling plastic bags or magazines; there are drop off points throughout all communities.

Consider these other ideas that can be done as well; get the kids to help. Getting children involved with a variety of activities can help bring awareness to the environment and nature while having fun.

  • Pinecones and Peanut butter feeders.

I love to feed the birds. I think feeding the birds is both beneficial to them and myself. One way to feed the birds is by making little pinecone feeders. We use to do this when I was a child. We would take pinecones and coat them with a thick layer of peanut butter then add seeds. I actually still do this sometimes; I even add raisins to the mix as well. Then, I hang them in the trees around my house.

  • Go outside and explore.

I loved being outdoors as a child, I would spend hours exploring, imagining and having fun with friends and family. I still enjoy being outdoors today. Spending a day in nature is relaxing. I just grab my camera and go.

But I also enjoy just sitting on my porch and listening to the different sounds that nature makes. So, if you get a moment take a walk to celebrate Earth Day. I understand the weather may not be ideal. Here in Mid-Michigan, I actually saw snowflakes this morning. But if you are able, get outdoors. Even if your time is spent in the backyard, walking around the block or to a local park, there’s always something to see.

  • Collect nature items (but be cautious).

When you are out exploring collect little nature items such as small rocks, fallen leaves and acorns but at the same time be careful. Some items in nature are better left alone especially the poison ivy leaves. Also, leave flowers and growing plants alone. The joy is to watch these natural items grow. Go home and look up your new finds on the computer or in a book. Have the children make a scrapbook or design a keepsake shoe box to store items in.  The small keepsakes could spark a lifetime of interest in environmental sciences.

  • Take photos.

You don’t need a fancy camera to take photos of nature. You can give kids cheap throw away cameras or use inexpensive digital cameras. Let your children take pictures of whatever interests them. You can always print the pictures off and store in scrap book. Have the children explain why they took this picture. A simple trip outside becomes a keepsake.

  • Plant a flower or plant a tree.

If weather permits plant a flower outside or a tree, make the planting a yearly event. Here in Michigan especially with sign of snow, I cannot get outdoors to plant anything new. In the past, I have planted flower seeds in organic cups and let the seeds start to grow. Once the weather is agreeable; I have taken the little cups and plant them directly into the ground.

These are only a few ideas; there are many others that can be done. Start a tradition to celebrate Earth Day with a small activity. But get outdoors as much as possible; the benefits go way beyond viewing nature.

Happy National Bat Appreciation Day!

Happy National Bat Appreciation Day!

I like bats when they are outside. It’s when they are flying around in my house that I have a problem. But I always safely catch them and release them back outside.

I was surprise to find out that Michigan has nine different bat species.

The different bats include:

  • Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus)
  • Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus)
  • Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis)
  • The Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus)
  • Tri-Colored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus)
  • Silvered Haired Bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans)
  • Indiana Bat (Myotis solidalis)
  • Evening Bat (Nycticeius humeralis)
  • Northern Long-Eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis)

Here in Michigan, the Little Brown Bat or Myotis lucifugus is the most common.  The Little Brown Bat is a relatively small mammal with an olive-brownish to dark yellowish brown colored coat.   In Latin, the word Myotis means mouse ear which is great for these Little Brown Bats since they do look like they have little mouse ears. I have photographed a few in my time. Even though I know they are only insect eating creatures; I am still cautious when approaching them.  I guess I have heard too many urban legends in my time.

According to the Michigan DNR website, “Little brown bats use echolocation to find and capture prey. They emit pulses of high frequency sound (20-130 kHz) that bounce off nearby objects. The bats then use the echoes to determine the object’s distance, size, and shape. They feed primarily on aquatic insects, including mayflies, caddis flies, and stoneflies. They will also feed on other flies, wasps, moths, and beetles to supplement their diet. Typical summer foraging areas include forest edges, along streams and lakes, and sometimes in small cultivated fields. Young little brown bats can eat up to 1.8 grams of insects/night; lactating females can eat up to 3.7 grams of insects/hour due to increased energy demands” (2014).  Of course, I wish they would eat more mosquitoes in my area.

Source:

http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10370_12145_12205-70016–,00.html