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Taking A Nature Walk
November 30, 2009

The lone Canada goose and reflection was taken last week on a walk.

Thank you every one so very much for your wishes and blessings.

Thank you for allowing me to get on my crate the week before.

Hopefully I didn't offend to many of you (maybe you got to thinking about it) when I wrote about the subject of carbon.

Let the madness begin.

Thanksgiving went off without a hitch.

Still, there is so much to be thankful for on a daily basis.

Even the birds had a treat.

As every year I offer them the seeds from squashes and some years pumpkins.

Friday morning gave us a tease of things to come, as there was about an inch of snow on the grassy areas.

It melted rather quickly, however.

Christmas decorations are pretty much up (I don't go hog wild like I did in my youth).

Bird activity comes and goes, but it seems to be picking up some.

You may notice that some birds come and go at certain times of the day.

Like all creatures, birds too are a creature of habit.


The first of the month.

Time to give the feeders and baths one more good cleaning and sanitizing before the cold settles in on many of us.

A good 10% chlorine bleach solution will do the trick.

If you have crud stuck in and on your feeders, forget the bleach and go directly with 'Oxygen Bleach'.

Place hot water (not so hot to melt plastic) and a liberal dose of 'Oxygen Bleach' in a large container and place your feeders in it.

The chemical reaction will foam up and remove the crud while sanitizing at the same time.

Rinse well or you will have a powdery residue left over, but either way, this product is all natural and will not harm your wildlife at all.

If you don't know what 'Oxygen Bleach' is, think name brands like 'Oxy Clean'.

I use Oxygen bleach all the time for deep cleanings on many items.

For a quick clean,

Spray your feeders with rubbing alcohol and leave it.

The alcohol sanitizes and evaporates before you know it.

Besides germs and diseases, seed and feed can go bad when it sits in wet conditions for to long a period.

Remember to keep your water sources fresh as well.

I have a dilemma.

In the past, I would do special letters on readers favorites and memories throughout the year and they have always been a hit.

I certainly enjoy putting them together and it encourages reader participation.

Recently, however getting reader participation for favorites or memories has been a bit taxing and no one enjoys that.

So, I will leave it up to you.

Do you want me to continue this tradition?

If so, I need participation without feeling like I'm begging.

In the past I discouraged last names for what I figured to be for your safety and security.

From now on, you may include your last name if you choose to do so.

This way, you can show your friends and family that you are published in a United States and Canada wide newsletter.

Send your Christmas favorites or memories along with your.....

First Name (Last is optional):

City or Region:

State or Province

I look forward to your participation, even if you have shared in the past, please do so again as readers continue to come and go.

You may want to share memories as a child or starting your own family.

Maybe it's going out and cutting a fresh tree or hanging lights on the palm trees.

Singing carols, church plays or anything you so choose.

Christmas season is special.

Thank You.

One of my walks this past week had a mission to it.

With camera in had, I went out to shoot some pictures of nature.

Now, you may think there isn't a whole lot out there to photograph in Michigan this time of year, but you are wrong.

In fact, nature provides something year round.

No matter where you live.

One only has to open their eyes to see.

The photos provided are from my nature walk (plus a sunset from last week).


Here in Michigan, other than birds, a few animals and some evergreens, very little else shows any sign of life.

Most deciduous trees and shrubs have lost there greenery.

Wildflowers, weeds and much of the native grasses have gone dormant or killed off by Autumn frosts.

Cooler weather has forced insects, amphibians, reptiles and some mammal species into hibernation or dormancy.

With the lack of color and wildlife, there are still many reasons to get out and enjoy the natural world around you.

Even this time of year you can find interesting and educational things on a nature walk or in your neighborhood.

This past week I enjoyed a late November day and a nature walk.

With my camera in hand, I went looking for something in particular.

A bird nest.

Not just any nest, but the digs or hangout of our local resident Red-tailed hawks.

This is an ideal time of year, as most trees are naked.

I think I know where to look, but it will take some hiking.

It also gave me a chance to turn my walk into a newsletter.

So I went looking for other bird nests in the brush and small trees.

It gives me an idea of where they nest.

It also helps to gage local populations and other things.

You can find a robin nest that looks like it could still be used.

Robins are amazing architects and builders.

Sometimes the nest is patched up and used again and in some cases, records show the nest to be used the following year.

Yes, robin nests often survive the severe weather conditions many of us have throughout the course of a year.

When you are out and about, you may want to take a peak in an old nest.

Here you will see that a field mouse is taking advantage of this robin nest that was built in the cover of a wild Juniper.

Now that is nature at its creative best.

Taking advantage of what is out there.

Walks will show you the remains of an old dove or cardinal nest.

Depending where you live, you may find a tight, down lined nest from an American goldfinch.

If you are blessed, you may find the walnut sized nest of a hummingbird. (I have yet to be so blessed).

You may even find an old nest ravaged by a predator.

When walking, keep your eyes open to your surroundings.

You may see a tree that has been rubbed by a deer or possibly a flattened area where some deer may bed down.

If you keep your ears open, you may even hear the thumping of hooves or crashing through the underbrush.

Look closely, what may look like a ubiquitous squirrel nest may be that of an owl or a species of hawk.

The neatness and all the sticks tell me that this nest isn't from a tree dwelling rodent.

Woodchucks or groundhogs are very common around here, yet they go into hibernation by mid November.

What was interesting, is this creature wasn't here a week ago.

The hole was.


Was this woodchuck dragged from its hole and killed?

It appears to be the case, but from what and why.

You can see that it has been picked on or nibbled at, but not feasted on.

I have seen a badger around here last year, and I know they will use old woodchuck holes and feed on woodchucks, but this one hasn't been feasted upon.

No matter...........................................

It is part of nature that I would not have seen sitting inside.

My walk continues and I do spot a few deer as they crash through the brush and splash through the creek.

I am purposely making noise, because it is deer hunting season.

I know I am withing city limits, but that doesn't stop some from illegal hunting.

While on your walks, you may notice a deer rub like this on one or several locations.

On with my quest.

A month ago, when many trees were filled with Autumn's colors, I spotted a Red-tail hawk take flight from a distant clump of trees.

A well protected area.

This would be an ideal location for a nest.

Through some thickets to the edge of the creek I came to the opening and up in a distant tree was my treasure.

Separating me and the giant trees is a swampy area so I had to find a location to get a better picture.

A close up if I could.

Surrounding the area to the west is a rather large wetland, so my best bet is to get a zoom shot.

This picture is quite a distance from me, but you can easily tell it is a large nest constructed of sticks and twigs.

No hawk, but I finally found what I was looking for.

Red-tail hawks can and will use the same nest from year to year.

Thay are also quick to abandon a nest (even with eggs or young) if they feel threatened.

It is always wise to steer clear of nesting birds when possible.

Don't you just love a successful walk?

Keep your eyes open and you just might come across something besides a nest.

Keep your eyes open for lichen, moss or even toadstools.

I hope you enjoyed the photos and a bit of my nature walk.

Be sure to get out there and take advantage of what God has to offer us.

It may not sing or bloom.

It may not run or make noises.

But, there is always something exciting going on in the Natural World around us.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.

John Andrew Holmes

I like this quote.

Don't you?

Read it again.

It isn't the physical exercise that is so good for your heart.

It is the feel good work you do that makes your heart beat a little faster and grow just a tab bit more.

Reaching down could mean you are helping a fellow human being back to their feet after they just tripped and fell down.

You could be helping a friend that stumbled back to their feet.

Or, reaching down could be helping another that is experiencing a rough time or season in their life.

Reaching out to help those that just lost a loved one.

In these rough times, reaching out to others that lost a job or their home.

Reaching down to lift up the down trodden.

Helping the homeless and the helpless.

Volunteering at a shelter or mentoring a young boy or girl.

When you have finished reaching down to help another, I mean truly help..............

You walk away with that feeling of joy.

You also walk away with a feeling of sadness.

You feel your heart grow and you feel gratification as well.

You may say to your self "I can do this" or "I like helping other" or "I feel good"

This my friend is the best exercise for your heart.

It is also part of what we are made to do.

God wants us to help others.

To help the weak and those that can't help or stand up for themselves.

This is what really exercises the heart my friend.

Until next time.

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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