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Visit a Refuge or Preserve
August 24, 2009

Welcome new readers.

Stick around and you will find I am a real person with many of the same interests that you have and sometimes you may discover we even have some similar problems or issues as I share about meself from time to time.

You may learn a thing or two as we get to know each other and I always learn from you guys.

hopefully ou will find these letters informative and possibly entertaining at times.

I have a love for nature and our Creator.

Like it or not, I end these letters with a positive quote and thought for your week.

So you see.................

You get more than you asked for :-)

July and late September all in one week.

Hot and humid the first part of this past week.

Many areas received heavy rain and thunderstorms.

They sure missed us, our total rain fall over the week equaled .65 inches.

Better than nothing, but a tease here and there doesn't get the job done.

By Friday, you would've though it was late September or early October with temperatures dropping to the low 60's

Much of our summer has followed that pattern it seems.

Daylight hours continue to shrink all to fast now.

I know it happens every year, but I never get used to the idea.

I do enjoy my long summer days and evenings.

The fields have grown in to much for me to take Akita (Keet) our Pomeranian, Chihuahua mix for a walk in the field now and Ziggy the Toy poodle never wanted to go in the field.

So, I take the fur kids for separate walks along the field edge and along the side walks around here.

I'm finally seeing a few more butterflies now.

It has been a bumper year for toads it seems.

My yard and gardens are loaded with toadlettes as well as a few big guys.

Every time I'm out there, I see 6 or 7 toadlettes scattered about.

I have to be careful not to mulch some of them when I'm mowing the lawn.

The most common toad around here is the 'Eastern American Toad.'

Toads are good to have around as they can eat copious amounts of insects.

Toads, like all frogs need a body water to reproduce.

I am blessed to have a pond nearby and the toads find my yard to their liking.

Feeders remain busy on the most part.

I'm noticing a few birds with the receding feather line on the head.

So far, a couple of Northern cardinals, a Blue jay or two, a few Red-winged blackbirds and a Common grackle have visited my feeding stations sporting the new look.

For new readers or maybe you are unaware of this issue with some birds.

It is believed that some species of birds will indeed lose head feathers to get rid of feather mites and lice on parts of the body that a bird can't groom and preen.

The bird may even scratch itself bald.

The head is the one part of the body they have a difficult time grooming.

When all else fails..................................

Drop the feathers...................................

Bald is beautiful.....................................

You may indeed see some birds completely bald until new feathers can grow back.

In the past couple of weeks, I have found 3 dead Mourning doves.

One on the deck and two under a feeding station that looked like they fell asleep and died in that position.

I called Michigan's Department of Natural Resources.

After being asked several questions on clean feeders, the use of pesticides etc. I was told they haven't heard of any dove die off or any other species of bird.

However, if I find another one, they want me to freeze it and hand deliver it to them in another county.

Part of me hopes I don't find another one, but part of me wants to find out what is going on.

There was another ill looking one at the feeders yesterday toward dusk.

It looked like it was a goner for sure, but it may have passed on elsewhere during the night.

I'll be sure to keep you informed if and when things develop.

I know my dove population is drastically down right now.

Part of our vacation time was spent visiting a Wildlife Refuge.

I'm going to share with you part of that experience.

I also want to share with you the importance of wildlife refuges and preserves.

The value they provide for our planet and the importance of visiting a few of these natural settings.

You will thank yourself for visiting a refuge or preserve and wonder why you haven't done so before.


(Below left, part of Refuge

Right, a Bald Eagle that refused to move its head long enogh to get a get picture.)

As most of you know, I took a few days off a couple of weeks ago.

Karen and I took her mother and our oldest daughter's family with us.

Yes, this can put the damper on things, but only if you allow it to do so.

Part of the reason we brought family along, was to build some memories for everyone and to introduce grand kids to some real natural life.

Besides the typical tourist traps, we also managed some quality time at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and my favorite spot in the upper peninsula....

'Seney National Wildlife Refuge'

Millions and millions of acres are set aside for National, state and provincial wildlife refuges and preserves.

Some are very small and some are monstrous tracts of land (think Alaska).

Seney is well over 95 thousand acres, making it the largest national refuge east of the Mississippi River.

All set aside for nature and much of it for our enjoyment as well.

As much as I enjoy it, I can't make the trip every year, but there are local and regional preserves to visit.

For Michigan residents and others that tour the UP, Seney should be a must on your hit list.

The rest of you need to find a refuge in your neck of the woods, you wont be sorry.

Be sure to look for more than wildlife, there is beauty everywhere you look, like the tree lichen and a form of fungus that made a home there as well.

I have been there a few times, but it has been several years since my last visit.

Established as a National Refuge in 1935, Seney has a very interesting history worth reading about.

A truncated version................

Stripped virtually clean by the logging industry.

Fields were burned.

Swamps were drained to turn into farmland.

A virtual wasteland not suitable for much of anything.

Until the land was given to the Federal Government.

If you notice, Nature and land are much like its Creator, very forgiving.

Healing can take place very rapidly.

With the help of man and Nature's healing abilities,

Seney National Wildlife Refuge was created.

This probably has happened in most places.


Our two cars pull into the 'Visitors Center' where you can see a variety of stuffed native creatures, from bald eagles, loons, wolf, coyote, bear and much, much more.

Curious grand kids were asking all kinds of questions and my 2 year old grandson wanted to climb on the bear and wolf.

Armed with a handful of brochures, spotting scope and new camera, we take off for the narrow but well groomed one-way dirt road.

The one way road is a 7 mile tour around some of the ponds, marshes and fields the refuge provides, leaving a vast majority of the refuge as wild and untamed land.

Other than the road we are on, it is like stepping back in time.

(Seney also offers many day hiking trails, opportunities for berry picking and so on).

The ponds and landscape look so prehistoric.

Wildlife is everywhere.

Sometimes you must look a little harder, but it is there.

Birds, turtles, mammals and insects are all around.

The waters create habitats for beaver, muskrats and river otters (muskrat pictured).

We saw some beaver and muskrat.

You must be quick with the camera or they are gone before you know it.

Dry land is home to deer, bear, coyote, wolf and rumor has it that a moose or two have immigrated into this vast refuge.

Watch for mink, weasels, fox and other furry beasts as well.

Once hunted to extinction in Michigan, the Gray wolf and moose have been reintroduced to the upper peninsula and are doing well.

The ponds and pools provide food, protection and homes for a variety of water fowl, cranes, herons, terns and more.

The waterways offer fish for osprey, eagles and Belted kingfishers as well.

Black capped chickadees almost land on you and probably would if a person could stand still long enough.

Seney is home to more than 200 species of birds.


Sometimes I have to pause, just to catch my breath.

So breath taking are our refuges and preserves, they are a must for all wildlife enthusiasts.

Few sounds can depict the call of the wild as the Common loon.

The hauntingly beautiful sound echos throughout.

Seney is home to 20 known mating pair of Common loons and several single birds.

Seney is also home to the oldest known loon Banded 23 years ago and still going strong.

This is important, as there was a huge loon die off in the fall of 2006 and 2007 (botulism), that threatened the existence of this wonderful birds in northern Michigan.

It is amazing what can happen when humans work together and with nature, instead of selfish ignorance and greed.

We can make a difference in our surroundings.

Here is another success story.

Still endangered and once extinct in Michigan and many regions, is the world's largest species of swan.

In 1991 and 1992, a total of 12 captive reared swans were released.

Today, more than 200 Trumpeters call Seney home.

That is success, considering all the natural predators they have .

Even as wild as this place appears to be, the swans will come up to you, looking for a hand out.

This guy walked within a few feet of us.

If you are driving, keep your eyes on the trail or you may end up in the ditch or water.

Karen almost gave me a heart attack as I caught the steering wheel just as we were driving off the edge.

We switched places so I could watch, jump out to take pictures etc. and she would do the driving.

She was the one that let her eyes wander.

It is easy to let your eyes wander, however.

You never know what may pop up out of the weeds or marshland.

Like Sandhill cranes.

Side Note:

You may notice an off color on the swans an cranes.

Especially where the swans dip their heads into the water and cranes that make a living in the swampy fields.

The brown and rust colors come from the harmless tannic acid found in the swamps, streams and pools throughout much of the Upper Peninsula and other parts of North America.

Tannins are released from dropping needles, bark and fallen trees in what we often refer to as Cedar Swamps.

As the swamps and streams run off into the rivers and lakes, it gives the water a tea color.

An interesting tidbit:

Tannic acid has anti-bacterial, anti-enzymatic and astringent properties.


Back on the road.................

Keep your eyes on the sky too.

You never know when an Osprey or Bald eagle will fly over or dive in to or skim the water.

(Osprey dive or crash the water, eagles skim and scoop)

Yes, Wildlife Refuges and Preserves offer so much.

So why am I talking about my vacation?

It isn't so much about my vacation or holiday, but what is out there for you to enjoy.

With all the complaining we do about our governments, it is nice to know there is a branch that does nothing but serve and protect our wildlife heritage.

Th U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does just that. (sorry, I lack information on Canada affairs).

Not only do they protect and serve, but they help to create and maintain these lands.

They take counts and look after the sick and many other tasks to numerous to mention.

Because of this branch of service and the dedicated people, we have preserves and refuges that wolves, bison, other mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and more can live.

You may know of a success story of preservation or reintroduction of wildlife in your region like the Whooping crane.

It doesn't have to be animal, it could be an endangered or protected plant like the Giant Sequoia

Animals that can live with some protection and that we can enjoy.

You and I can't go to these great lengths, and most of us don't have some of these beautiful or endangered species living on our properties, but we know there are places to go to watch and enjoy them.

I almost forgot.

The self guided tour end up near an observation platform.

Off in the distance you can see an eagle nest (below bird) and in this picture is an adult Bald eagle.

The nest has been there for more than a decade and in years when Karen and I would visit in July, we could spot eagle chicks through the spotting scope provided (no charge, if you can believe that).

The volunteer at the visitor center said there were four known nests on the Refuge.

It is so nice to see this magnificent bird making a come back.

A small crowd had gathered by now and cameras and spotting scope were packed away.

Just then, this majestic bird took flight.

It took off flying away from us, but made a nice turn and within several seconds he flew over the tree tops about 100 feet away from all of us.

There were oooos and ahhhs ending with a small ovation.

What a way to end the tour.

To bad my camera wasn't ready, though I probably would've missed the fly over trying to locate the eagle through to view finder.

I'm still learning all this digital camera stuff.

'Gardening For Wildlife' seems to pale in comparison doesn't it?

But when all of us do our part, it makes the whole thing a bit easier and worth while.

We become a small link in the scheme of things.

We become good stewards.

I don't know about you, but I'm making sure my small link is a MIGHTY STRONG LINK.

Thanks for allowing me to share part of my vacation with you.

More important...........

Be sure to find some time to visit a refuge or preserve.

It may be a little Audubon or Nature Conservancy park.

You'll be glad you did.

Still, it is a safe haven for wildlife and you.

You may pick up some ideas while your there.

Well, it's time to fly for now.

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

(Both pictures are from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore along Michigan's Lake Superior Coast.)

Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.

George Bernard Shaw


Or should I say, nice quote.

This one can work a couple of ways don't you think?

By keeping my own life and my own thoughts clean......

I am to busy to look at faults that may occur in others.

By keeping my own thoughts and life clean.................

I can see what needs to be done around me.

I am able to see through clean eyes.

Clean eyes and thoughts make for a more positive attitude and productive person.

Positive attitudes can be catchy and I am now able to assist others around me,

Even if it starts with a simple smile.

A smile can often do more good than you may ever know.

A smile is an ice breaker.

Smiles are warm and welcoming.

By keeping myself clean and bright, 'I am able to help pick the speck out of someone else's eyes and not have to worry about the board in my own eyes.'

By keeping my life bright and clean..........................

You and others may see me and wonder what I have going for me.

Keeping a life clean and bright isn't easy.

Especially living in a fallen world.

It is however, one of the many choices we have to make.

Choosing what style of life you want to live or are willing to live.


Your choices.................

You can also choose to allow God to help.

With God, you know you will win, no matter what.


Live bright and clean with our Creator's help.

Be a clean window to look from.

Be a bright light for the world to see.


Sometimes we simply need to look and work on our selves before we can be of service to others.

Until next time my friend.

(Superior Senset Below)

"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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