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Gardening For Wildlife, #25 Summer is in full swing
July 30, 2007

I'm back.

One week seems like a short time.

It's nice to get away, but always better to come home again.

It was a busy first part of the week and as always, we wind down by spending the last two or three days at our favorite B&B in Petosky, Michigan.

The best part for me was the first day.

My first time ever in a glider plane.

5,280 feet above the shores of Lake Michigan and the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Seeing Wisconsin on the western horizon.

WOW and then some.

That is the closest I'll ever get to flying like a bird.

I can't explain the feeling.

Nothing but the sound of the wind and of course the pilot talking to me.

How small it made me feel and how magnificent our planet is.

I will do it again.

We went kayaking for the first time.

I liked it.

Who knows, a kayak may be in our future.

The Mighty Mackinaw Bridge turned 50 this past week end and we were there.

I never tire of seeing this modern marvel.

At 5 miles long with towers well over 500 feet tall and 200 feet above the straights, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world until recent years.

We managed to see a bald eagle without looking for one and we were visited by a pair of endangered piping plovers as we walked along a Lake Michigan beach.

The birds made the trip worth it.

Yolanda spent the week at camp and Keet stayed with our oldest girl and grand kids.

She didn't behave so well and we may need to look for alternatives next time.

She sure gave me a whole lot of loving though.

Enough of that.

We came home to a still very dry situation.

Karen's sister kept some flowers and veggies watered, but the rest of the stuff................

Do you notice how the sun feels a bit different now?

Even though it is still hot out there, I notice the sun is a bit different or lower when it beats on me.

As summer progresses, the sights and sounds change.

Flowers come and go, we have veggies to pick and the sounds of certain insects change.

Certain birds like grackles and starlings are really starting to flock now.

Monarchs are all over the place in Northern Michigan.

Especially along the lake shores.

They are dropping eggs on the milkweeds, that will be the last generation of Monarch of the season.

The ones that become butterflies in August and September will make the long journey to Mexico.

Amazing how "Nature" gives these butterflies the ability to survive and fly to a location they have never seen.

I'm so glad the Monarch has rebounded from the deep freeze that destroyed millions of them about a decade ago.

Summer's heat is still in high gear, be sure to stay hydrated.

Keep fresh water for your pets, live stock and of course your birds and other wildlife.

If possible, you may want to fill waters sources several times a day.

Some butterflies like swallowtails enjoy a fresh drink and even a good mud puddle.

Be sure to read on a designing a butterfly garden.

Toads and salamanders need moist environments to thrive.

If possible, keep your plants well watered.

Cut back on feeding, especially if a lack of water is an issue.

Feeding plants in hot dry conditions can stress them out even more.

A recent report from the CDC (Center of Disease Control) reports a giant spike in West Nile Virus.

The report from the CDC said that West Nile is almost 4 times greater for this time of year in human reports than its ever been.

The hot summer and for some, excess rain has made for ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes.

As a rule, the virus spikes late in the season and the CDC is hoping for a slow down with cooler late summer and fall weather.

This does not bode well for some species of birds like the crow families and my beloved chickadees.

Mosquitoes are also a carrier for heart worm, so make sure your dogs have their shots.

Citronella plants were bred to keep mosquitoes away from people.

The thing is, they aren't that effective and citronella candles are pretty much worthless.

Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide.

Candles emit CO2 so you may be attracting more skeeters.

What does seem to work is rubbing yourself with some nice smelling Lemon thyme, fennel, or mints.

There is something about the plant oils in these and other plants that do indeed deter mosquitoes and other bugs from making a meal out of your blood.

I know mint oil diluted with rubbing alcohol works to keep a host of insects at bay.

I will rub Monarda on Keet and myself sometimes when we go for a walk.

Many insects find food by smell.

We can smell good but not to these blood sucking thieves .

I'm a wildlife habitat naturalist.

I'm not here to play politics, but we need everyone's help on this.

The state of Indiana and BP (British Petroleum) plan on dumping thousands of pounds of ammonia and mercury laced sludge into Lake Michigan.

That's on top of what they are already dumping.

A few jobs and fuel isn't worth the damage this will do to the Great Lakes.

Tens of Millions of people rely on the lakes for drinking water.

The Great Lakes provide 20% of the worlds fresh water.

Tourism depends on fresh lakes.

The fishing industry is still suffering from what happened to the lakes in the past.

What about the birds of prey that eat the tainted fish?

Do you want to play and swim in this stuff?

The lakes are the cleanest they have been in decades and now this?

Come on Indiana don't let greed blind you.

BP, Don't look for my business no matter what.

The Great Lakes Basin is counting on you to do the right thing.

I understand that the Federal Government may put a stop to this and BP says they will wait till September before they move forward.

You can help, by letting your Government officials know that this doesn't fly.

Polluted waters affect all of us directly and indirectly.

Boy, I almost broke out my orange crate.

Thanks for letting me speak and please spread the word.

Especially you that live in a state or province that borders one of the Great Lakes.

Say, it's time to fly for now.

Smiles are free, yet they can be priceless.

Share the wealth.............. especially to a stranger.

As always,

"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.

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Gardening For Wildlife.

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