Happy Winter Solstice

Beautiful day here in mid-Michigan. Today is the first official day of winter. The day will be short and the night long.

Canadian Geese enjoying the sun on the Maple River

But for now, the sun is shining brightly. I cannot ask for a better day, especially for this time of year.

Happy Winter Solstice, my friends.

Until next time…peace

The Babies Are Getting Bigger

I love seeing the little babies all snuggled down by their parents. I cannot believe how big some of the little Canadian Geese are getting since the last time I spent photographing them.

Of course, the parents are still very protective of them. I always use my longer lens. I do not want to disturb them too much.

The little ones are getting bigger. I love watching them follow their parents around. It's so cute.
The little ones are getting bigger. I love watching them follow their parents around. It’s so cute.

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day! I hope your extended weekend was enjoyable. I did what I loved to do this weekend. I took nature photos and spent time with family and friends. I am truly blessed to have such amazing people in my life. Of course, I worked a little too. My mother and I went to the cemetery earlier in the week to put flowers on the grave sites. Remember those who are no longer with us, reminds me how short and precious life can be at times.

I joined a volunteer organization years ago, called Soldiers’ Angels. I have met some amazing people through this group. I took to social media to thank all the men and women who have served over the years. As well as a moment to remember those who are no longer with us. My father served in the Army. I have the utmost respect for all who have served or currently serving.

The weekend has been filled with little moments. I was standing at my kitchen sink when I viewed a Bald Eagle flying low over the field. Of course, he was too quick for me to grab a camera. But the view was spectacular.

I was out photographing a Barn Swallow. The bird sat on my weathervane; he was at the top right in the middle. When I went out to photograph him (or her), I realized the Barn Swallow was coaching the babies to fly out of the nearby bird houses. I know only a true nature nut would like the idea of standing in the yard while little birds fly around her head. I just loved how the adult Barn Swallow was so vocal to the little ones.

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Today, I was able to spend time photographing baby geese. There’s just something fun and heartwarming watching the little goslings swim around the river. The mother kept gathering them together. She would nudge them to the safety of the lily pads if she thought they were in danger. There are a lot of vehicles that travel on the road; louder ones would cause her to scurry them to safety.

And of course, I have no words to describe the the sunset this evening.

Memorial Day Sunset
Memorial Day Sunset

Until next time…peace.

 

 

 

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.

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  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

Another Spring Day?

Another Spring day here in Michigan.  I say this with a tone of sarcasm. Even though the weather is really typical for Michigan. I woke up this morning to snow.  Not much just enough to let me know the air would be cold and damp all day. In fact the snow has actually disappeared already.  According to the weather report, there is a promise of warmer weather coming in.

So, I took my own advice from yesterday’s blog and went for a walk. The walk was a bit “crispy” but I enjoyed seeing all the wildlife. I was able to view a magnificent Sand Hill Crane fly over the back property. She (no I don’t know if the crane was a female for certain, I don’t have that knowledge) was spectacular to watch. Her enormous wind span is such a sight. I could watch cranes all day especially when they use that low throttling call. I find their “song” beautiful.

The Canadian Geese were making their voice heard down on the river flats as I approached. I accidentally startled a small pair of wood ducks.  When I returned to my house, I noticed a small herd of Whitetail Deer (around 12) were making their way across the field. I am happy to see the wildlife returning to the area. As more and more wildlife becomes visible or heard, I know the warmer weather is fast approaching.

World Wetlands Day

Today is considered to be World Wetlands Day; I love these unofficial holidays especially the ones that directly relate to nature and wildlife. Even though today in Mid-Michigan; the entire area pretty much had a snow day.  Some areas actually received 18.7 inches of snow last night.  Mother Nature just wanted to remind us who really is in charge.

Wetlands provide habitat for various types of wildlife and plants. Here in Michigan, we have wetland areas.  I will often refer to them as river flats; the name everyone in the area calls them.

Wetlands have various benefits.  The areas reduce flooding by absorbing the rain or snow melt off.  At the same time, wetlands act as a filter getting rid of pollutants and other contaminants by breaking down the material. In Michigan, there are actually three different types of major wetlands: marsh, swamp, and bogs.

Marshes

The river flats are more like marshes.  Depending on the time of year, they can an inch of water to several feet deep or completely froze solid.  I like these areas; I can grab my camera and photograph all types of wildlife.  I have spent hours photographing herons, cranes, ducks, geese, and much more.

Swamps

Swamps are more wooded. They are usually home to various types of little creatures including frogs, owls, and raccoons.  The plant life in the swaps can also be beautiful.

Bogs

Bogs are a result of decaying vegetation.  Bogs have different type of animal species including turtles.

Watching the wildlife in the wetland areas is fascinating.  I can spend hours outdoors during the warmer months.  Not today, when the temp is about 3˚F right now. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the winter months too.  I just don’t get outdoors as much.

According to the Michigan DNR website, these are the plant and animals that frequent the wetland areas:

Arrowhead
Bald Eagle
Baltimore Butterfly
Black Spruce
Black Tern
Bowfin
Brook Stickleback
Bulrush
Cardinal-Flower
Common Cattail
Common Loon
Cotton Grass
Damselfly
Dragonflies
Dragon’s Mouth, Wild Pink
Dwarf Mistletoe
Eastern Newt
Great Blue Heron
Green Frog
Green-backed Heron
Iris
Kingfisher
Kirtland’s Snake
Lichen
Liverwort
Marsh Wren
Marsh-Marigold
Michigan Holly
Minnow
Northern Harrier
Osprey
Pitcher Plant
Poison Sumac
Red Maple
Red-bellied Dace
Red-winged Blackbird
Sandhill Crane
Smartweed, Knotweed
Snail
Sphagum Moss
Spotted Turtle
Sundew
Tamarack
Trumpeter Swan
Water Milfoil
Water Shrew
Water-lily
Waterweed, Elodea

So, the next time you see a wetland area on the side of the road while you are zooming down a freeway; take a moment to think about all the wildlife the area has to offer.

Reference:

Michigan DNR (2015). Wetlands. Retrieved from:

http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10370_22664-61132–,00.html