Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Wildlife’

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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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I am a Birder Too…wait…I am a Mushroom Hunter Too…wait…I am a Geocacher Too…wait…I am a Flower Hunter Too…wait…I am an OUTDOORSMAN Too

March 30, 2013

Frog-AboveI went over this subject with good friend, Dr. Bob – Birding a few months ago. But I keep finding these same theme reoccurring over and over. I think it is fanaticism or something. You must BE something completely or nothing at all. NO YOU DON’T.

You can be it all. You can enjoy all of the Natural world without having to be designated any one thing. I love being all the things in the title of this Posting, plus more. I may not be the best Birder around, but I love watching, listening and CloseMr.Spiderenjoying the interactions out on the Trails.

I can hardly ID most Mushrooms I come across. Well….maybe a few. Enough so that I do not poison myself. Especially since I like to put everything in my mouth. 🙂 But there is not a Mushroom along the Trails that I spot, that I do not stop to examine.

Enjoying the Outdoors and Nature does not mean that one must be an expert in anything. The shear respect and love for Mother Earth is enough. My most private moments come deep into the forests by a remote Pond. Some of the answers to the questions in my own life have come while Hiking or just sitting along a quite stream.

Jack-o-Latern-mushroomToday I went and visited my Heron friends at Holland Ponds. Counted occupied nests and mating pairs of Herons. Got some excellent pictures and video. Yet I can hardly have a very deep conversation with some of my regular Birding friends. SO WHAT. They understand. We share what knowledge we both have on what subjects or specifics in Nature we have. And isn’t that good enough.

I guess I am relaying this information because I have come to see that it does not matter if you are a Fanatic or a Pro Birder, Pro Mushroom Hunter, Pro Geocacher. It just matters if it all gives you understanding and joy. And that you share that with others.

As a punk, I was a fanatic at everything I did. fanatic back Packer, fanatic Canoer, fanatic survivalist/Orienteerer. I could pull out ID numbers to equipment and gear and quote survival needs I cannot even remember now. 🙂 I would get lost in the fanaticism, and not as much in the forest as I should have. Maybe those where my test years. My Rainbow-Tallmeans at acquiring the knowledge base to do what i wanted in the outdoors and not be concerned about my safety and or not knowing what was happening.

These days…..I have become a minimalist. Not always the best way, but less to think about. Water, my Camera and some small survival equipment stashed in my case, and I am all set to BE anything. Or Everything. Or Nothing at all. Just Being in the Outdoors is good enough. Enjoying the times there and absorbing the positive energy that flows in Nature.

Although we can be entertained and enjoy some recreation in our Parks, we should NEVER forget they are delicate places that we need for much more then just recreational purposes. They are our connections to everything. Everything that makes the world exist. Respect these places. Understand these things, and protect what they are for the future.

I left out one very important thing in the title to this posting. I am NATURE Too.

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Be Michigan OUTDOORS

March 17, 2013

BOOTSmainPATCHWe have been looking for a way to make it easier to continue our quarterly Newsletter, Share outdoor Links, and have a place where you all can come and find all types of Outdoor connections. Connections to other Blogs with useful Nature knowledge. Blogs & Websites for Birding, Geocaching, Camping and Hiking almost anywhere.

YES…..we have this Blog here, the official Hiking Michigan Blog. But it is focused on the Group, it’s Hikes, what we experience more specifically on those Hikes. Individual Parks and trails we visit and mostly HM Group related stuff.

The new BE MICHIGAN Blog, covers a little bit of everything. And not just HM related. The Blog is also open to many other Outdoor experts and friends who will be writing articles and making Blog postings on a variety of outdoor subjects. All with keeping YOU informed, Sharing the knowledge and helping everyone be just a little bit better prepared before they head out into the Parks and Trails of Michigan and Canada.

MI.Born2So……if you have your own Blog, or you want to write about your Outdoor experiences and Share your knowledge with all of us, then drop me an email, and we will open up a place for you to be able to make posts here on the site. Contact Rob Golda.

Head over to the new Blog and see what it is all about. We are building as we go, so make suggestions or even write for the Blog itself. Just like Hiking Michigan the hiking group, this new Blog IS YOURS. It should represent YOU and your ideas. GO TO BE MICHIGAN OUTDOORS.

 

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Raptors at the Backyard Bird Feeders

December 2, 2012

Recently, Janet Hug our HM Newsletter Birding expert, posted a Cool picture of a Hawk waiting on a backyard fence, near a group of Bird feeders. I have just started to notice this kind of behaviour over the last few years, but apparently, from all the input I have received on the HM Facebook page on this subject, this has always been pretty common behaviour from predator Birds.

Janet Hug backyard Bird Feeders with waiting Hawk

Janet Hug backyard Bird Feeders with waiting Hawk

I find this very interesting, that these Birds of Prey have figured out that there are regularly available meals, coming and going in a backyard that contains bird feeders that are filled and maintained consistently. Just sit on a fence or tree limb nearby, and wait for the meal of your choice. Brilliant!

Just last summer, near a very used backyard feeder, I seen a nature scene unfold before my eyes. There where Sparrows, Chickadees and Finches, coming and going to these couple of overfilled bird feeders in my neighbors yard. As one group went in for food, others would wait in the surrounding bushes for their turns.

All of a sudden, there was all these shrieks of alarm and excitement. The Feeder cleared out and all the birds that where on the tops of the bushes nearby, either quickly flew off, or worked their way deeper into the cover of the bushes. Something was going on here.

Then……like a bomb from the sky, a red-tailed Hawk came almost straight down from above, with his wings tucked close to his body. He dive-bombed directly into the nearby bush containing many sparrows and Finches, and disappeared inside completely. I never seen this before. In about a minute his head poked up from within the bush as he worked himself the rest of the way out of the bush. When he emerged and started to fly off, I could see he had a sparrow in his talons. Lunch.

A minute or so later, the feeder and surrounding area was back to it’s normal busy/buzzing self. Birds feeding on the feeders and others waiting on top the surrounding bushes, like nothing had happened.

Apparently this was something commonplace for these Birds and after the alert, there was no reason to continue to be on high alert, and everyone went back to the task at hand……feeding at the Feeders. Just another common activity in the day to day Natural world cycles. Pretty amazing to me. Common place for all the Birds involved.

DOWNLOAD A RAPTORS ID SHEET HERE.

MichiganRaptors

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So What do you Do?

November 15, 2012

Summer is gone……Fall has faded…….and the best we get for the moment is the 40 degree, sunny afternoon. The big snows are next. Bummer? NO. If you where born here in Michigan, you understand that we are the lucky people who experience all four seasons.

OH…….Big deal you say. YES……it is a big deal. I know it takes some adjustment every year, to let all the green and beautiful temperatures go away, and then be expected to embrace sub-zero weather, mounds of snow, and digging out your car after you wake to an 8 inch night-time snow fall.

But……if you bundle yourself up and head out into the forest, after one of those evening 8 inch snow falls, wonder and beauty awaits. Those blankets of clean fresh snow covering everything. Fresh animal tracks. The echoes of Birds in what is now caverns of snow cover. THE QUIET! Nothing is more peaceful and quite then the deep forest after a fresh snow fall.

YES Again…..it all can be a big pain in the butt, and each year, as I get older, I find a new excuse on why I want Spring to return quicker. But those fade immediately after the first real snow fall. Then it’s Snowman building, Snow shoeing, Snow Hiking, Sledding, and of course those long stops of contemplating solitude, deep in the woods, where there is nothing but the sounds of the Birds and wandering critters.

Try to embrace this years Winter. If you where born here in Michigan, you have to be tired of whining about it by now. 🙂 It is part of our unique state. It is just another reason I remain here in Michigan and will die here in Michigan. I have been to most of the states in the USA and many places in Canada. I have travels to many remote places around the world. But it is Michigan, with it’s four seasons, endless lakes and streams, rolling forested hills and meadows, that keep me satisfied.

There is an old saying that goes…….The views can be had from the Hilltops, but the fruit grows in the Valleys. What this means is……here in Michigan, we have the diversity of many different habitats, natural environments and unique places due to all the water and diversity of the lands. We also have the four seasons which effect all of this.

So embrace Winter. It is OK to wine a bit when it is time to dig out the car. But after you have finished, head out and enjoy the outdoors and another beautiful season in Michigan.

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What Have I Learned

June 23, 2012

Thanks to both of my parents who from my childhood made the effort, took the time and spent what little money they had to show their children the natural world and take all of us outdoors to experience many different things, I have always felt very connected to Nature.

From my years of Cub scouts through Boy Scouts I learned to “Be Prepared”, while still enjoying all the wonders and beauty the outdoors had to offer. As I grew into my late teen and early 20s I challenged myself with expeditions to far off places and remote regions of the US and Canada. Testing my skills and knowledge of the natural world. I can remember one trip where we purposely did not pack enough food for a 2 week Canoe camping trip, counting on our abilities to fish and collect natural foods to have enough food to survive.

The challenges where not to Conquer Mother Nature, but to overcome my own fears and gain knowledge of both the outdoor world and myself. After many, many years of these adventures into the unknowns, I came to realize the biggest challenges where not so much survival, but understanding myself. I came to realize that this could also be done in a local Park and not with possible death hanging over my head if I failed.

Sitting quietly along the edge of a secluded Pond in the forest of a local Park, and becoming one of the trees, or one of the frogs in that Pond, connected me directly to everything that was happening there. After a short time, the turtles excepted me, the Birds did not care that I was there and life as it would happen without my presence was happening with me being there.

Not only did I feel an acceptance into a privileged world, but I would learn the fine details of the inter-connectivity that makes up the natural world. This intense detailed connectivity still amazes me to this day. Just how everything in nature is in some way connected to everything else and depends on each other in one way or the other is something that is simply astounding to me.

But what this has done for me, this acceptance into this detailed interconnected world, is allowed me to look deep into myself and see things I would never had seen while in my office, or sitting at home. Removing all the things that spin around us in the fast paced society we now live in can make self reflection almost impossible at times.

Being a tree or simple Frog can quickly remove all these spinning complications of madness and boil many things down to their most simplest of forms. Not only has these simple times helped me solve some of the most difficult problems in my life, it has also given me amazing experiences of observing the natural world the way it is suppose to be. Undisturbed. I have witnessed things I would have never seen attempting to go after actually seeing them. But by becoming one of the trees and having the patience to just blend into the natural world, I have been blessed with observing so many wonderful things.

Critters being themselves. Birds singing and interacting with each other and other critters. I once even watched as a Beaver felled a tree. I would never had guessed or imagined how this looked, sounded like or happened in a real sense, even if someone explained it to me. But to actually watch it close by is something I will never forget.

I guess the whole point is…..it is always good to be prepared when heading out into the natural world. But it is important that we are prepared to become part of this world and not be there to attempt to control it, conquer it or manipulate it. The real wonders and true beauties are in the life there, just being itself, without our influence. Just being there, being another tree is one of the most important things I have learned about the Natural world and myself. It has been the most learned experiences in my life.

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Doesn’t Always have to be an Adventure

June 17, 2012

I have not been feeling well and do not have the energy needed to get deep into the forests out on the Trails right now. But it doesn’t mean I cannot enjoy the Parks and Outdoors and even get some excitement as well.

I spent Friday along a Lake in one of the local Parks, just sitting at a Picnic table under one of the Shelters there, talking and laughing with a good friend. I was more then satisfied with just being with my friend sharing thoughts and telling stories.

But we where treated to a constant stream of Birds and critters, while we just sat there. A nesting pair of Barn Swallows right there in the Shelter where coming and going while they fed their youngsters. After the local Chip,monk colony got used to our presence there, we counted 10 of them shooting on and out between the other tables, grasses and bushes nearby. Acting goofy, chasing each other and scaring each other. Hilarious stuff.

We set out some Oranges and some cups of water to see what that would produce. A gray Squirrel came to visit, a Chipmunk gorged himself on one of the Orange halves, a House Red House Finch kept visiting in-between a Titmouse that could not resist crawling all over the other Picnic tables.

We also got a visit from a red-headed Chirping Sparrow. beautiful little bird, while we watch an oriole go back forth to her nest in a tree nearby. Now this continued the entire time we sat and just talked there at the Shelter. I came to just enjoy the company of my friend and her conversations, but we where treated to a non-stop parade or birds and critters, doing their things.

I will post some pictures shortly. I took over 50 pictures just from my seat at the table, and was very glad I brought my Camera along. We both talked about how it isn’t always necessary to Hike 2-5 miles into the forest to see various birds and wildlife. Sometimes just hanging out in the right spot and becoming part of the scenery, allows the wildlife to go, about their business like you did not exist.

There is much to be said about becoming the tree or the bush or in this case….one of the Picnic tables there. There is also something to be said about the vibe you give off as well. We where not there to disrupt the local critters or birds. We did not abuse their comings and goings and we very much enjoyed all the activity. I truly believe that this is sensed by the birds and critters as having nothing to fear by our presence there.

I could not have had a finer afternoon. My good friend….excellent conversations, critters & birds all over the place and a lovely breeze off the Lake nearby. And we never budged from our seats on the Picnic table under the Shelter. I wonderful yet very simple time.  We seen: Gray Squirrel, Chimunks, House Finch, Orieles, Chirpping Sparrows, Barn Swallows & Chicks, Titmouse, and a few other birds we where not able to ID.

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