Posts Tagged ‘Michigan outdoors’

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1st Spring Flowers for S.E.Michigan

May 14, 2014

Finally we have some Spring flowers blooming, and many more on the verge of taking over the forests and meadows in S.E.Michigan. It has been a very odd Springtime this year. The “Blood-Root” flowers have already bloomed and gone away. Time for the masses to bloom, and fill in everything.

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Blood Root group blooming in late April

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Natives used the roots for Red & Orange dye

 

The “Trout-Lilies” are blooming at this moment (middle of May), along with the May-Apples and “Skunk-Cabbage” in all the wet areas.

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Skunk Cabbage stretching it’s leaves

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One May Apple plant that will blossom a single white flower

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In late May, a single green Fruit will form under the broad leaves

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Trout Lily. They grow in patches along wet areas.

 

You can “Download” our early Spring Flowers, ID sheets here at the Link. We are working on an updated version at this moment. Download the ID Sheets Here.

 

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While you are out searching the Forests in S.E.Michigan, for sprouting wild Flowers, take care in watching out for fresh blooming Poison Ivy. It is at it’s strongest in the Springtime, when all the poisons are concentrated in the stems and tips of the new sprouts. At this stage, it may only take a slight brush up against the plant, to contract a severe case of Poison Ivy.

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What Happened to the Sick Birdie?

March 13, 2014

In my last Posting, I had found that one of the many Pine Siskins that hang-out around the Bird Feeders had very swollen eyes,

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A very Ill Siskin Bird

He stayed mostly on the ground, near the warm rocks water bath. I could hand feed him, but didn’t want to start that bad routine. So you wonderful HM people fixed the, problem. I received so much wonderful info, help and NET Links, that I was able to figure the problem.

Healthy-Siskin

A Healthy Pine Siskin Bird

It was “House Finch Decease:.This decease can cause such swelling of the eyes, that the Birds become almost blind and cannot find food and a sleeping place. After learning this. Next to the warm water area, I set up some evergreen and Pine needle beds. This is where the sick Pine Siskin started spend the nights, I would also spreed the are with feed, on the ground, that was easy for him to find.

After about 4 weeks, the sick Siskin was now flying around the Feeding Pine trees. Still sticking close to his new secure area. As of yesterday………he left to join his old Gang. 🙂

Now…….was this providing steady food sources and a warm nest that helped heal this Bird……..I just do not know. I received many helpful hints, with the best coming from Gary, and his direct Link:    http://www.birds.cornell.edu/hofi/hofifaqs.html

THANK YOU……..All you helpful and knowledgeable HM people. You saved my Buddy. 🙂

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Friend……Foe……Strong, Respected Fellow

January 5, 2014

My recent efforts at creating a small Bird Sanctuary on my property has brought back all types of memories and internal debates within myself. How far do I get involved with the “Wildlife”? There is definitely a line.

Many years ago when I was writing up the first Hiking Michigan Park Trails MAPBOOK I had a very tuff decision to make. For one Spring and Summer, I headed out to the same Pine tree stand, overlooking a Meadow in a private area of Stony Creek Nature Study. I would go to this spot almost every day to write and edit. So did a Mama Doe and her two new Fawns.

They quickly became used to my presence there, and MaMa would let the youngsters frolic pretty close to me. She even grazed pretty close to me, almost saying……”It’s OK, just don’t hurt my youngsters”. This went on for the entire season. It got so normal, that the youngsters would kinda run in my direction as I would approach my normal sitting spot under the Pines, on the hilltop.

Winter came and I left to publish the MAPBOOK. The follow Spring, I selected a spot, deep in the Forest nearby, and started a second Book. As I sat there one day, I suddenly heard the snap of a twig near me. It was a young Deer approaching directly to me. I actually recognized this deer. It was one of the youngsters I had spent the previous summer with. He had distinctive markings that made his identification easy to be sure of.

As he approached, I could see he was not afraid of me, his tail was wagging vigorously, and I swear he was smiling. 🙂 There was no question in my mind, that he recognized me, and that was the reason he was coming in.

I had to think quickly. Do I make a friend of a wild critter, thus putting his life in jeopardy, should he approach another human that was not his friend? Do I teach him that hanging out with humans is OK? I threw my arms in the air and yelled. The deer stopped for a moment and then continued toward me. I yelled further and started to walk towards him. He turned a slowly trotted away.

As he got only a few yards away, he turned to look back at me…..tail still wagging, and then slowly walked off.It was one of the hardest moments I have had in the Outdoors. I would love to have made a permanent friend of this deer. BUT……I know for sure it would have jeopardized his length of life. I still can see this scene in my head, like it happened yesterday.

Recently, with all the effort I had put into the Home bird sanctuary, I have once again come to face the tuff question of……”Where does the Wildlife fit, into my understanding of the Natural world”. I have become very protective of all my new Bird friends. I get angry at the Hawks that swoop in and take them away. I cringe when I hear the scream of one of the small Song birds, as a Hawk dive-bombs them even while hidden in a bush.

I once again face a dilemma that I thought I had finished with, many years ago. I understand the Outdoors well. I know there is death for there to be life. I know this is the balance of Nature. The strong and clever survive, to give birth to the next generation. As it should be.

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The Best of the NEW YEARS

December 27, 2013

HMFACTSAs Hiking Michigan enters it’s 16th year in existence, I would like to Thank the now, over 7,200 members that make up the largest Hiking Organization in the state of Michigan. Not only is this Group the largest, but in my opinion, It is one of the nicest, friendliest and excepting Outdoor groups in the state. It takes ALL of you members to have produced this wonder place for everyone to come and be excepted and enjoy Nature together.

I would also like to personally Thank everyone who have been so patient, kind and reassuring towards all the delays in Hike schedules this past year. My health recovery has been very slow, and I have received some of the most beautiful emails and letters from you HM members.

We will definitely be back on track come this Spring of 2014, with regular Hikes and Outdoor activities. Your support and loyalty to, YOUR Group has made us even stronger, and shows just why Hiking Michigan has survived and prospered for going on 16 years now.

HMchristmasI would like to wish all of you the best of the Holidays and hopefully the very best upcoming NEW YEARS!!!!!  We will be sneaking in some random Campfires and maybe a Snowman build over the Winter months, before we get back solid with a regular Hiking schedule come Springtime.

Again……..Thank You all so very much for your personal support and kindness/understanding on all the schedule delays and the support for my personal healing. It has meant alot to me. But it shows why we have made 16 years and why YOU are all the best Trail partners anyone could ask for!

Michigan-Night-LightsOne side note here………I personally belong to many Outdoor Groups. There are also some great ones out there. But there is just something about the HM members that make you guys stick out from the rest. Your acceptance of everyone that joins in on a Hike. Your friendliness and sharing of Trail supplies and Outdoor knowledge. This has made it  easy for anyone to just stop in here, not know anyone else, and join in on the fun of exploring Nature and all the beauty our state of Michigan has to offer. No one can make any of you do those things. You all just have done it anyways. THANKS!

VISIT US ON-LINE:   HM YOU-TUBE…….HM FACEBOOK……HM WEB SITE……HM FLICKR

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Survival and Outdoor Saftey

December 1, 2013

A few years back many of the women Hikers started talking about feeling unsafe out on the Trails. This went for both Hiking and Biking. As a male, it was something I never much considered. So……after a few open Hike discussions, we sat down around a Campfire, and the women put together their thoughts on what they felt made them feel safer out on the Trails. What is good about these WOMEN SAFETY sheets, is that they where put together by women, for women. A women’s insight on feeling safer outdoors. We also exchanged ideas with one another on the simple things that did so much when it came to making anyone more safe out in the local Parks. You can Download the WOMENS SAFETY sheets here. The main intention for these Safety Sheets where for the comfort and safety of Women, out on the Trails. But the shared ideas here work well for EVERYONE out in the Parks, and also help out in a Survival situation.

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It has been a few years since we all talked of this concern together. I have come to realize that there is much connected between personal safety and survival, while out in the Forests. Many of the items we may carry along with us for Survival, do double duty when it comes to personal safety. Here is a picture of what I carry on every Hike I take. The Bag that goes around my shoulder is my Camera bag, and I use it as a base to carry other survival and safety items. There are two different Flashlights. One is small, and also contains a magnifying glass, Compass and high pitched whistle. The other Flashlight is a very bright beam, that doubles as a signal light and is fashioned to be used as a stabbing tool.

The knife on the Camera bag strap has many, many uses. It works with my flint and magnesium strip to start a fire. It has a small wood cutter on one side of the blade. I keep this knife, sharp enough to shave with. In a defensive mode, it would easily cut directly through the thickest coat and reach the skin of any assailant. The Walking Stick I use is one of the older style types. It weighs a bit more, but it is indestructible, with a sharpened poker-like end to it. I certainly would not want to be “impaled” by this. There is a Cool web site that still make these older, self-defense style sticks, called “Bear Sticks”. You can check them out at the link here: BEAR STICKS  BearStick

Also dangling from my Camera bag is a small container of “Pepper Spray”. It was purchased at a local Police supply store. It contains the maximum legal strength of Pepper spray the public can use legally. With all the funny laws out there, the last thing anyone needs is to be sued for protecting ones self by spraying an individual attempting to attack you. Empty this small canister on an Attacker, and he or she, will definately be going to the ground. I also carry some “Pepper Wash” in one of the pockets of my Camera bag.

Because I use this Camera Bag as my base for Hiking, it allows me to carry quite a bit easily, over my shoulder with ease. This includes some goodies, and other personal needs like Insect repellent and Water. One of the very best SURVIVAL KITS I have ever seen, was put together by a friend-Jim, at M4040 web site. The items in his Survival Kit are store bought individually, or put together by what he had in his own home. It is OUTSTANDING! Download the M4040 Survival Kit here.

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Just as an extra thought here. There should be things we all should have packed in our Cars at all times, through every season, whether we are heading out to the Trails at that moment or not. These items make a great base for safety, and have many, many uses for Survival as well. Download the CAR OUTDOOR KIT here. It is amazing how many things we all use for outdoor survival, works for outdoor safety and self defense. I hope this article and Download sheets helps out everyone in feeling safe and calm while outdoors. Because isn’t one of the reasons we head outdoors is to feel good about things and calm about the world?

CARKit

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What Happened to the BIRDS????

November 3, 2013

A few weeks ago a made a Post requesting advice from all the HM members, on how to best attract Birds on my property. I received so many wonderful suggestions and ideas. So I went out to my nearest “BIRDS UNLIMITED” store and purchased all types of Bird feed and Feeders, and placed them all around my yard.

I have Suet blocks, Nut Feeders, general seed Feeders, you name it. I will make a separate Post on all the suggestions I received and all the research I did afterwards, in search of quality Bird Feed and Feeders. For now, I wanted to focus on something odd that has happened.

Well……I set up all these various Feeders around the Yard. The property has White Pine Trees and Apple Trees and many other species of Trees and shrubs. An all-round habitat for almost any kind of Bird. YET…….after more then two weeks, I have almost no visitors. No Birds at all.

I started to talking with neighbors and friends in the Rochester area, and they too have noticed that there has been very few Birds visiting their Feeders as well. Puzzling indeed? Many locals have told me they have not had a single Bird of any type, come and Feed. I realize we are just past the Migration time for Birds heading to their Winter grounds, or even shifting to their Winter food sources, but…….No Birds at all? Very odd?

I went and visited some of the local Parks and finally found some Birds. But very few and only in very selected areas. High food and water source areas. But these backyard Feeders,complete with Bird Baths and Water Feeders too, are attracting almost no Birds. And this seems to be something that just started happening this year, from August onward. So what is happening here?

Is this taking place all over the state? Up North as well? Please let me know and give some feed-back on what might be happening with our Birds. Like I mentioned. This is not held to any one species. It is across the board. All Birds seem to be hiding or have gone somewhere. What Happened Here??????

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The Simple Things

September 10, 2013

I have been reading the postings of a Nature friend, Kim Clair Smith, who writes a Blog called, NATURE IS MY THERAPY. She has been talking about the simple things in Nature. Those things that in many cases, just pass us by. The Frog in a pond. Parenting birds, taking care of their youngsters. All the things going on around us almost every day, if we only look for them.

With this in mind, I sat in my backyard and observed a very intricate Spiders web in a nearby tree. I examined it in great detail. It was beautiful! The detail and intricacies were wonderful. I kinda became mesmerized by this web, and just sat there for quite some time, just staring at it.

Dew-Covered-Spiderweb

All of a sudden, a small Fly hit the web and became entangled in it. Out of a hidden corner of the web, darted a Spider, at lightening speed. It grabbed the Fly, wrapped it up and quickly carried it off into his hidden corner of the web.

The whole thing took only about 2 minutes, but it was amazing. Then it all returned to what it was, once again. A beautiful web perched in a tree, just waiting. Just sitting there in all it’s detail and beauty.

I realized that most of the many Nature experiences I have witnessed in my life, have been simple ones. Yes, I have stood on the edge of Canyons, rafted whitewater and Hiked thousands of miles over the years. But the most wonderful and beautiful experiences have been those which have been the simplest of Mother Natures gifts. It has been the patience and time taken to wait, just watch and listen, and then be rewarded with something wonderful. To be a part of what takes place behind our backs, most of the time.

Take the time to see, watch and listen outdoors. It can be in your own backyard. It is just a matter of taking that time and having the patience to observe and wait.

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New Michigan RAPTORS ID sheets

August 4, 2013

BirdSilloettesMost of the time, when we spot a Raptor in Michigan, it ends up being a silhouette of the bird flying overhead or soaring. Sometimes we get lucky and get a close enough view of the bird, to observe colors and distinct markings. So we put together an updated silhouette ID sheet for Michigan Raptors.

It is a great way to start to become familiar with what Raptors are in the area, allowing us to get closer and actually see the details of these magnificent birds. Michigan has seen an big increase in Raptors these last few years. At Stony Creek Metro Park HIKING Trails, there was an Eagles nest and a Osprey nest withing a 1/2 mile of one another.

Birds of prey are birds that hunt for food primarily on the wing, using their keen senses, especially vision. They are defined as any bird that kills its prey with its talons. Their talons and beaks tend to be relatively large, powerful and adapted for tearing and/or piercing flesh. In most cases, the females are considerably larger than the males. The term “raptor” is derived from the Latin word “rapere” (meaning to seize or take by force) and may refer informally to all birds of prey, or specifically to the diurnal group.

The diurnal birds of prey are formally classified into five families:

  • Accipitridae: hawks, eagles, buzzards, harriers, kites and Old World vultures
  • Pandionidae: the Osprey (sometimes classified as subfamily Pandioninae of the previous family)
  • Sagittariidae: the Secretary Bird
  • Falconidae: falcons and caracaras
  • Cathartidae: New world vultures including condors.

The nocturnal birds of prey – the owls – are classified separately as members of two extant families of the order Strigiformes:

  • Strigidae: (typical owls)
  • Tytonidae: (barn and bay owls).

Types of Birds of Prey

* Eagles tend to be large birds with long, broad wings and massive feet. Booted eagles have legs and feet feathered to the toes and build very large stick nests.
* Ospreys, a single species found worldwide that specializes in catching fish, and builds large stick nests.
* Kites have long wings and relatively weak legs. They spend much of their time soaring. They will take live vertebrate prey but mostly feed on insects or even carrion.
* The true Hawks are medium-sized birds of prey that usually belong to the genus Accipiter (see below). They are mainly woodland birds that hunt by sudden dashes from a concealed perch. They usually have long tails for tight steering.
* Buzzards are medium-large raptors with robust bodies and broad wings, or, alternatively, any bird of the genus Buteo (also commonly known as “hawks” in North America).
* Harriers are large, slender hawk-like birds with long tails and long thin legs. Most use a combination of keen eyesight and hearing to hunt small vertebrates, gliding on their long broad wings and circling low over grasslands and marshes.
* Vultures are carrion-eating raptors of two distinct biological families, each occurring in only the Eastern Hemisphere (Accipitridae) or the Western (Cathartidae). Members of both groups have heads either partly or fully devoid of feathers.
* Falcons are small to medium-size birds of prey with long pointed wings. Unlike most other raptors, they belong to the Falconidae, rather than the Accipitridae. Many are particularly swift flyers. Instead of building their own nests, falcons appropriate old nests of other birds, but sometimes they lay their eggs on cliff ledges or in tree hollows. Caracaras are a distinct subgroup of the Falconidae unique to the New World, and most common in the Neotropics – their broad wings, naked faces and appetites of a generalist suggest some level of convergence with either the Buteos or the vulturine birds, or both.
* Owls are variable-sized, typically night-specialized hunting birds. They fly with extremely little audible turbulence due to special feather structure and have particularly acute hearing.

Download our recently updated Michigan Raptors silhouette sheets here:

MICHIGAN RAPTORS

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New & Updated ID sheets Coming

July 25, 2013

Starting this weekend Hiking Michigan will be releasing both updated Nature ID sheets and brand new INFO sheets for everyone. We will be starting with a very updated and detailed MI. RAPTORS ID sheets. New Raptors listed and much more info to ID these Birds in the wild and just soaring overhead.

Our next updated ID sheets will be our favorite, the ANIMAL Tracks ID sheets. We have added and third ID sheet to this PDF file, as well as more Tracks, including some common Bird tracks we see along many creek shorelines.

The next sheet will be one we have been working on since Springtime. Our MI. Spring Wild Flowers ID sheets. These have completely revamped and detailed, with the help of our goof friend Kim and her excellent Spring Flower pictures.

These are  just a few of what will be posted and available to be downloaded starting this weekend from the Blog, Facebook Page and Web site. We hope you enjoy the new sheets and find them helpful while enjoying the Outdoors.

Visit our web site DOWNLOADS Page and get many PDF files for Free. Many useful ID and Outdoor INFO sheets there for your knowledge and enjoyment.  HM DOWNLOADS PAGE

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Observe Closely & Ask Yourself a Question

July 18, 2013

What is more important to you? A healthy Environment, or a new Water Slide at one of OUR State Parks? Diverse Habitats through out OUR State Parks, or still even more Interconnected, Linear BIKE Pathways? (now being called Trails) A wide range of various Natural Resources interacting with one another to keep all of OUR State Parks, healthy and working naturally the way it should work on it’s own? Or OUR money being spent on resurfacing Tennis courts in small, obscure Towns along the new BIKE Pathway system?

MichNo matter how you may feel about these things, there is only one answer for all of it. The focus needs to return to having a Healthy Natural Resources base, through out OUR State. WHY? Because everything else will fail without this base foundation of a healthy ecosystem, everywhere in OUR State Parks.

You cannot build another Linear BIKE Pathway, if the environment it passes through is a Monoculture (plants & Trees that are primarily Invasive species, and almost NO natural interacting plants & Trees) A new Water Slide installed into a Lake that is full of more Invasive Species, with the only fish being those that are dumped into that Lake annually by OUR Department of Natural Resources. That is just about as Plastic and surreal as it gets.

Really now……ask yourself those questions. It all boils down to a solid and healthy foundation. Just like almost everything else in the world. Just like a Structure of any sort. You MUST have a solid foundation to build on, or else at some point in time it will all come crumbling down.

MI.Born2Do we have our Invasive Species under control in our beautiful Michigan? Do we have the various diseases and ill health problems that plague our Trees, Waterways and diverse Habitats, under control? Or are we just cutting sick Trees down, selling the Timber and calling the problems fixed? That is how OUR DNR now deals with Tree problems and Tree deseases. Pitiful Natural resources management. One of the biggest CONS being perpetrated on us Michiganders is the Volunteer Game.  Organizing Michigan’s best Volunteers to remove Invasive Species, without telling any of them that what they are accomplishing is next to NOTHING. because the Invasive Species problem is so enormous, that just having Volunteers doing the work and not having an entire department at OUR DNR dedicated to constant Invasive Species removal and control, has very little effect on the problem as a whole. Yet most of the work is being performed for Free, by the wonderful Volunteers….Michigan residents, and not OUR DNR.

These are not MY personal opinions. Nor are they exactly what I would like to see done. But they are what MUST BE DONE, and NOW…..in a very BIG WAY. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter what you or I may want. It is up to what is NEEDED. OUR Michigan Environments NEED our dedicated HELP, RIGHT NOW. Noy just the ghreat Volunteers that maontain most of thye Foot Trails, or the Volunteers and Scoputs who remove the majority of Invasive Species, all while OUR DNR is off trying to control our Recreational Experiences. Like we are all stupid and cannot figure it out on our own. All this money going at Pathways, Recreational control, financing Non profit groups, all need to come to a dead stop, before we have nothing left to enjoy. I am not exaggerating at all here. It is that bad and needs immediate help and to be changed, right away. Tell this to Ron Olson the head of the Recreation Division at the DNR. Or Jim Radabaugh, the head of all Trails in our state. These two are most responsible for what is taking place..Get rid o0f them, and the blood sucking Non Profit groups, feeding off of the DNR and our money, will fail and go away, because they cannot survive without the help from Parks & Recreation at OUR DNR.

Isn’t the bottom line, a beautiful and healthy environment we all want? If You HIKE…..doNL-Sanctuary-Trail you not want to see Critters and flourishing habitats? If You BIKE…….do you not want to see healthy environments and flourishing habitats? If you Hunt, Bird, geocache, etc…..do you not want to have a healthy eco system and habitats to travel through and enjoy?

If we need such control of our personal Outdoor Recreational experiences, lets create a separate State Agency dedicated to the Recreational FUN of the people of Michigan. This way the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) can get back to doing what they used to do and be responsible for what they used to nurture and take care in OUR State. A Healthy Natural Resources based ecosystem and beautiful Habitats through out the entire State of Michigan.

Please make the choice. demand the proper actions, and not just ignore the bad behaviour of the Agency we have entrusted with our Lands & Waterways in OUR State of Michigan. Our DNR and local Parks & Recreation.

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