Tag Archives: wildlife

Loved by Wildlife

While I have only been living in an RV for a little over a month, Paul has been enjoying this life for a year now and has shared some wildlife dilemmas he has encountered.   Depending on where in the story you are, the experiences can be perceived as frustrating or funny, possible even fearful and confusing for the creatures involved.

The first incident was when Paul was staying in a campsite and continuously heard something running back and forth on the top of his motor home.  He could not figure out what any creature would find so entertaining as to scamper back and forth, but didn’t really give it much thought.

Then one day a fellow campground tenant asked Paul if he realized that a squirrel had built a nest on the top of his slide.  Now this is a sheltered location, as the slide has a built in canopy over it.  Paul got up on a ladder and looked at the top of the slide.  The nest was positioned in the middle of the slide, and he could tell it was about two feet wide and no idea how deep.  Now how to reach it?

Paul had a long-handled squeegee and decided that would do the trick.  Standing on the top of the ladder he reached the squeegee in as far as possible and pulled the nest toward him, letting it fall to the ground.  He repeated this process several times until as much of the nest as he could reach fell to the ground.  He then moved the latter to the other end of the slide and repeated the process.

After he had removed the nest one of the observers mentioned that when it fell to the ground baby squirrels had run away from it.  One of the campground workers when and got a shovel and scooped up all the nest debris and disposed of it elsewhere.    Now the question was, how had the squirrel gotten up onto the roof of the motor home, as there were no trees nearby.  Paul heard the sound on his roof again and went out to observe.

The squirrel was climbing up and down the ladder on the back of his RV.  He said the mother squirrel looked to be in a big of a panic, running back and forth, looking all over as if to say “where is my home?”  and “where are my babies?”   Despite the fact that the nest had to be removed for him to bring the slide in and move to the next location, I had to feel sorry for the poor mother squirrel who thought she had built a safe haven for her little family and it was now missing.

Now we move to fluttered friends.   A nest with eggs was found on one of the support arms for one of the slides and was removed, then on at least two other occasions birds built nests on the lower portion of the slides.   One bird was unintentionally suicidal.  As we were getting ready to leave after the jeep was parked less than 48 hours a bird had built a nest on the top of his front passenger side tire — and it was tightly muddied to the tire!   It was removed before we drove off.  Can you imagine the shock of all those birds who had found what they considered an ideal place to construct their homes, only to return and have them totally gone.

This makes me wonder, why is this RV and Jeep so loved by wildlife?   With trees nearby why select a man-made object over nature?    It will be interesting to see what other creatures may be attracted to our motor home as we traverse the U.S. and Canada.

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Filed under backyard, birds, decisions, Discoveries, environmental, exploration, Family, Life is a Melting Pot, nature, travel

Scampering Squirrel

The other day I had an encounter with a squirrel, well not actually an encounter, more somewhat of an invasion.  I happened to look out the window onto my front porch and spotted a squirrel up on the porch with a huge nut in its mouth.  It seemed to be confused on where it wanted to go.  It came across the porch, then walked toward the steps leading off the porch, then turned around so it was facing the door into the house, then sideways again and disappeared off the side of the porch.

What was the squirrel thinking as he ran back and forth?  Why did he choose to get up onto my porch?  Was he trying to escape the rain?  Where did the nut come from?  This last question is relevant because I don’t have any nut trees on or by my house that I am aware of.  How far did he carry that nut?

Standing Squirrel

Photo by Grace Grogan   Copyright 2014.

One question was answered by this, as I assume that this could be the same squirrel who left the shell from a nut on my sidewalk about a week ago.  I saw the pieces and wondered where they had come from.   Still I wonder where the squirrel was coming from, how far he is traveling to accumulate his nuts, and why he chose to walk up and across my porch rather than through the front lawn.

This is not the first animal encounter I have had.  Past encounters include bunny rabbits, deer on the front lawn, skunks strolling on my driveway and sidewalk, a rooster walking across the front lawn, birds on my porch eating insects out of spider webs, and a woodpecker pecking at my house.

Whatever possesses these animals to pass my way I will never know.  What is going through their minds as they travel across my yard I sometimes wonder.  Why that woodpecker feels the need to peck away at my house rather than one of the trees I cannot explain.  Wildlife in action.  I’m still pondering over the thought process of that squirrel on my front porch.

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Filed under assumptions, backyard, exploration, Life is a Melting Pot, mind, nature

Matthaei Botanical Gardens

This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  If like me you enjoy taking photographs of flowers and/or nature, this is a wonderful place to visit.

Matthaei has several options to fit everyone’s needs or desires.  There are several trails that are open sunrise to sunset seven days a week, plus the conservatory, garden store, lobby and display gardens are open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.  Admission is free; they do have a donation box inside the conservatory, and there is a reasonable parking fee of only $1.50 per hour or a maximum of $5.00 per day.  With the size of the venue I opted to pay the daily rate immediately._DSC6631

I arrived at 8:30 am.  It was quiet, with only a few people quietly walking out onto some of the trails.  I grabbed my camera and tripod and decided to walk the Sue Reichert Discovery Trail, which circles Willow Pond.   This trail is only 4/10 of a mile, which they estimate to be a ten minute walk.  I meandered slowly, taking pictures and stretched it into almost an hour, taking time to sit down a couple times on benches that were available.

The difference in time is whether you walk like the average person or walk like a nature photographer, skimming the area for possible subjects to photograph.  Doing so can make a fast walk take quite a while and is why I prefer to partake in such places either alone or with other photographers who understand the time frame needed to fully enjoy the area.

I decided to do the outside gardens first, and in looking over the map not only did I not go up into the Children’s Garden, but I also missed the Perenial Garden, Grower’s Garden, MiSo House and Bonsai and Penjing Garden.  I started in the Gateway Garden, a relaxing spot with benches, rocking chairs and fountains.  I took photographs of flowers there, in the Marie Azary Bock Garden and in the Sitting Gardens before meandering down the Commons, which are bordered by two other gardens on the east and bench seating on the west.

The commons leads you into the Alexandra Hicks Herb Knot Garden.  Here you will find chipmunks scampering back and forth amongst the plants and sometimes climbing up on them as well, but trying to capture them in a photo is difficult.  They are quick little guys!  Once I completed my photo rounds of the herb garden I strolled between that and the perennial garden and went through a vine/plant covered tunnel which led to the opening of the children’s garden.  I had the option of going up into the children’s garden or taking a nature trail around the children’s garden.  What I opted to do was take a short trail not shown on the map into the Oak Openings Garden.

There was nothing to attract my photographer’s eye in the Oak Openings Garden with the exception of wild strawberry plants that had begun bearing fruit.  It was the bright red of the fruit that grabbed my eye as I looked down to scan the ground for photo subjects.  I followed the trail through the Upland Woodland Garden and across into the Wet Woodland Garden.  Unfortunately the hot weather we had been having left nothing  wet, it was, on that day, better termed a dry woodland.  Nothing caught my eye for photographs, so I proceeded into the Great Lakes Garden, which led me into one end of the Prairie Gardens, then the Coastal Gardens and back up where I started in the Gateway Garden.   Unfortunately a group was there partaking in the rocking chairs or I would have grabbed one for a nice relaxing break.

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By now I had been wandering for a few hours and decided to take a snack break before visiting the Conservatory.  One thing to keep in mind, the conservatory does not sell meals, only a limited selection of snack food, candy and beverages.  If you plan to be at Matthaei Botanical Gardens for several hours you may want to consider packing a cooler with beverages and lunch or snack food.   I had not planned that far in advance, so I purchased a small trail mix and flavored water.  There are one or two small tables where you can sit inside to consume your snack, and there are also tables available outside on the deck.  Food and beverages are not allowed inside the conservatory.

The Conservatory has three main areas, the Tropical House, the Temperate House and the Desert House.  Here you will find many plants and blooms to view and/or photograph.  On this day there was a water Lilly in full bloom, Cocoa trees, pineapples growing, sausage trees with their “fruit” hanging in abundance, and numerous other flowers and plants.  The Desert House has the majority of their cactus growing in raised display beds, making it easy to enjoy and photograph the wide variety.  I’m sure this was also done to preserve the fingers of little ones who may be touring with their parents.  Some of those cactus spines are pretty long and wicked looking!

I spent about five hours touring the trail, gardens and conservatory, and I didn’t see it all.  Keep in mind I was walking slow, took several rest breaks on the numerous benches that are available throughout the property, and was taking photographs.  The average person might tour it at a much faster pace.

I would like to go back and walk some of the trails I chose to skip, plus with anything growing outside the gardens and trails are a constantly changing canvas with growing seasons and weather.  If going they do recommend appropriate footwear for walking the natural areas and that you stay on paths due to poisonous plants such as poison sumac and poison ivy growing in natural areas.  The Massauga rattlesnake also inhabits the area.  I did not encounter any slithering reptiles, but did enjoy the “music” of unseen frogs as I walked around the pond.

If you are in the Ann Arbor area I highly recommend a visit to University of Michigan’s Mattaei Botanical Gardens.

 

 

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Filed under Activities, birds, Botanical Gardens, bugs, Discoveries, education, environmental, exploration, flowers, insects, Life is a Melting Pot, Michigan, nature, nature center, Photography, spring, summer, tourism, travel, vacation

I like wildlife but I have my limits

I live in a home that is not quite city and not quite country.  I am on a state highway and have neighbors nearby, yet we also have quite a bit of wildlife in the area.  I usually enjoy these glimpses of nature in action, but this year I have had both the pleasurable and the less desirable.

There is a pair of rabbits that I have viewed on more than one occasion in my neighbor’s yard.  Normally you just see a rabbit hopping across the lawn, nothing spectacular.  This pair, however, is comical and unique.  One rabbit will jump up considerably high into the air and the other rabbit will run beneath it.  Then they will turn and repeat the steps again.  I have watched them do this on more than one occasion.  Even though they are annoying in the sense that the consume vegetation from the garden, they are comical and fun to watch.

I did not get the thistle and milkweed pulled from  my front bushes and the thistle has gotten quite large and gone to seed.  There are birds that seem to love this and frequently I look out to see them sitting on the weeds in the shrubbery.  This is pleasurable, enough so that I can forgive them for coming up onto my porch, sitting on my chairs there and  sometimes leaving reminders of their existence.

If you have been a reader for long you know that I have spiders on my porch every year due to my close proximity to the river.  I learn to watch for webs, and as long as they don’t violate the area I need to walk into my house at night, I tolerate them because the benefit is I have a mosquito free yard.  Our co-existence would be much easier if they would learn to build their webs on the end of the porch opposite the door, so a few large, persistent ones have been eliminated.

This year my limits have been tested.  When I was weed whacking along my patio two small mice jumped up and ran.  My daughter informed me that we have had mice outside for years, that my husband just never told me.  I would prefer if critters didn’t jump up and run when I am trying to trim the vegetation.

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The perfume factory. Photo copyright 2016 by Grace Grogan.

One night I came home after dark and my lights caught an animal walking across my drive — a skunk!  While Pepe Le Pew may be adorable in a cartoon, it is not something I want strolling my drive or yard when I am likely to be walking around in the area.  That particular night I pulled up onto the grass near my porch steps to hopefully eliminate any possibility of a skunk encounter.  As I came to a stop the skunk walked down the front sidewalk across the area near my steps and into the bushes beside the porch.  Needless to say I was a titch nervous when I walked up onto the porch to enter the house…so nervous I forgot to look for spiders!

The perfume factory’s appearance  was not a one-time sighting.  I could smell him periodically at night and a couple days after the initial sighting I saw him walking around in my backyard at 3:30 in the afternoon.  This definitely made me nervous as this is a nocturnal animal that was out and about in the middle of the day.  It appeared that he may have gone under my shed, but I certainly didn’t want to run out and look.  I have purchased mothballs, which I have been told if I spread in the bushes and around and underneath the shed will deter the skunk.

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Wasp/Hornet nest. Photo Copyright by Grace Grogan.

Before that problem had been tackled I discovered a hornet/wasp nest hanging on the upper corner of my shed.  It was fairly good size and very active.  I purchased two cans of spray designed to kill wasps and hornets and my daughter, Caroline, came over and doused the nest with a foaming spray the first night.  The next morning I looked out and the nest was still active.  Caroline’s boyfriend, Rob, is used to dealing with these pests when working, so he came over that night and re-sprayed that nest.  In the process of trying to eliminate one nest, he discovered three more nests had been started under a loose board so sprayed them all for me.  The next day Rob came back to check the inside of the shed where he discovered another five small hives being started.  Thanks to Rob all hives have been treated and destroyed and the loose board is nailed back for me.

So, wildlife is wonderful if it is deer standing in my front yard, rabbits playing a hopping game, or birds sitting on flowering weeds.  What I do not like is the perfume factory of Pepe Le Pew, mice, and wasps/hornets invading my space.   If they stay in the wooded areas things will be just fine.  After all, I have my limits, and my limits are not beneficial to their lifeline.

 

 

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Filed under backyard, bugs, Discoveries, flowers, habit, Life is a Melting Pot, spiders

Husband, Marsh, and Porta-Potty Challenges

Before heading onto the  boardwalk of Magee Marsh Ron and I made a pit-stop at the gift shop area.  Because hours are spent walking the boardwalk, taking pictures and observing birds I made a trip to the porta-potty while Ron headed to the gift shop.  The difference, this year I was prepared for the porta-potty challenge, at least I thought I was.

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan
Copyright 2015

Last year I pulled out a sheet of toilet paper and notice a “shadow” on it, and turning it over discovered a huge black bug on the backside that scared the crap out of me (well, not literally), causing me to throw the toilet paper on the floor.  This year I pulled out a strip of paper and checked it over very carefully.  I was happy to find it bug-free.  I then watched a small spider come down from the ceiling and land on my purse, which I had carefully hung on the sanitizer dispenser.  Of course the dropping of the spider led me to look up, where I spotted a large spider on the ceiling.  Does the Magee Marsh porta-potty dislike me?  Can’t I use it without a bug problem coming up?  Apparently not.  The sacrifices of a photographer who needs to utilize the facilities before heading out to capture some bird shots.

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan
Copyright 2015

I exit the porta-potty and enter to gift-shop where my husband, Ron, had gone.  He is standing in the check-out line when he sees me come in the door and immediately says “would you like a T-Shirt?”

He is purchasing a large poster and a T-shirt.  Where does he plan to put the poster?  We have no available wall space left.  His answer “I’ll take something down.”

Great!  I wonder what item gets demoted for the promotion of poster showing the various types of Warblers.  Time will tell, because he’ll have to get it framed first.  Now the T-shirt, whenever I see a new one of those come into the house or in his hands to purchase I just laugh.  Why?  Because the man could probably wear a different T-shirt for the next 90-120 days before having to do laundry.  Granted a few of them may be showing their wear, have paint on them or a few holes, but for the most part they are good, nothing wrong with them T-shirts from various places and festivities.  However, we would not want him to feel deprived of a Bird Week shirt from Magee Marsh, so the purchase was made.

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015

Magee Marsh is located in Ohio and is a great place for photographers and bird watchers. It is where Warblers gather each spring before flying over Lake Erie on their migration north in the spring.  Unfortunately we were a bit early and there weren’t many birds at the location yet.  It was a nice, warm day on the boardwalk, and if you look around you can usually find things to photograph, such as moss growing on a log, or a turtle sunning himself in the sun.

There are two kinds of people you find at the Marsh this time of year.  The photographers, like Ron and I, with our camera’s and large lenses to capture photographs or the true bird watchers who are carrying bird books, check lists, and binoculars.  Both are friendly groups, so a nice mixture to share space with.

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

Photo by Grace Grogan Copyright 2015

About half way around the marsh my bad ankle started causing me problems, with pain shooting from the ankle up to the knee.  We were almost at the end when my wonderful husband did his best to take my mind off the sore, swollen and throbbing ankle.  As I was standing with my back to him, sore foot off the ground and one hand holding the boardwalk rail for balance, Ron swung his camera around to take a photograph of a bird up in a tree.  Sounds simple and uneventful, doesn’t it?  Only one glitch, in the process he clobbers me in the back of the head with his 150-500mm lens,  I hear an “oops” and he is off and shooting.  Luckily the head only hurt for a few minutes after I hobbled my way to the end of the boardwalk and sat down on a bench to wait for him to finish.

We get in the car, and as we start to roll down the long exit road from the Marsh I look at him and say “For future reference, hitting me in the back of the head with your camera lens did not draw my attention away from my sore ankle.”

Ron has it duly noted, but makes no guarantees it won’t happen again.  Such is life with a photographer, the shot must come first, but as I am also a photographer I understand the process.

Photographs by Grace Grogan are available for sale on Fine Art America.

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