Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Nature Photography at the CWC Audubon Woods Preserve

On Saturday (23 MAY) a small group of nature lovers gathered at the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy's Audubon Woods Preserve for a nature photography outing.  Some of these pictures are currently being shared on the CWC Facebook page.  Each person participating provided four of their favorite/best photographs to be voted on as a "people's choice".  Voting will continue until this Friday (29 MAY).

Here are a few of my photographs that I did not contribute to the contest.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

In Remembrance

This Memorial Day please remember the reason for the holiday is to honor and remember those who have given their life in the service of the United States of America.  This is the sole reason for the holiday- to remember the 1 million plus men and women who have died serving this country.

Below are the words of the original Memorial Day proclamation issued by General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic on May 5th, 1868 to commemorate and remember the fallen from the American Civil War.  The Grand Army of the Republic was the largest veterans' organization representing soldiers who served the Union cause.



General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

  1. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
    We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

    If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

    Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from hishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.

  2. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith. 
  3. Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.

    By order of


    Adjutant General

    WM. T. COLLINS, A.A.G.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Upcoming Event - Wildflower Photography Outing at Audubon Woods Preserve (23 MAY 2015)

If you live in mid-Michigan and are looking for something to do this Saturday (15 MAY), join me and some other nature photography buffs at the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy's Audubon Woods Preserve for a wildflower photography outing.  This is not a formal workshop, but rather an informal chance to get together and take photographs with other nature lovers.  It's a great opportunity to learn what techniques and equipment other photographers use to get their shots.  Participants are invited to share some of their photos on the CWC's social media pages.  This is also a good opportunity to learn more about some of the wildflowers that are currently blooming.  This event is free, but participants are asked to register here so we know how many people to expect.

Mayapples at Quigle Creek Natural Area

I spent the morning yesterday at the Quigley Creek Natural Area in Mecosta County where I was participating in a survey of the flora and fauna on the property.  This was the second trip that I have made to this property - a previous survey trip was made last July 31st.  We found a number of new species for the property, some of which I plan to share in a future post.  Today I just want to share my favorite plant photograph from yesterday.

This white flower and large umbrella-like leaves belong to the Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum).  Because the flowers appear in the axil between the two leaf stalks, the Mayapple is a flower best viewed from below.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Native Plants Attract Native Insects

Over the weekend we noticed that something had been munching on the Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) plants in our yard.  Upon looking closer, we found that our Garden Columbines (A. vulgaris) had also been attacked.  The culprit?

Columbine Duskywing caterpillars

Those are the caterpillars of a species of butterfly called the Columbine Duskywing (Erynnis lucilius).  Columbine Duskywing caterpillars feed exclusively on the foliage of Columbine plants.  In the picture below I can count at least nine caterpillars.  It didn't take them long to completely defoliate some of the plants.

How many caterpillars can you find?  - Columbine Duskywing caterpillars

Monday, May 18, 2015

2015 Isabella County Environmental Education Day

Last Friday the Isabella Conservation District hosted our annual Environmental Education Day.  This was the sixth year that we have put on this event.  We offer this event to every Third Grade classroom in Isabella County - this year we had twenty-nine classroom attend.  The planning for this event takes several months and the few days prior to the even are full of last-minute preparations.  This is why I only published two posts last week.

We couldn't host this event without the participation of dozens of volunteers.  Starting about six months before the Environmental Education Day I start contacting groups that have presented in previous years.  I try to end up with about 20 different activities for the students.  Most of the organizations/individuals that volunteer their time have been supporting this event since year one.

On Wednesday and Thursday I spent hours getting things ready for Friday.  On Friday, I arrived at Chipp-A-Waters Park before 7:00AM to open the gates, set up canopies, set up our (Isabella Conservation District) activities, and direct people to their locations as they arrive.  The two hours before the students arrive are my busiest, most stressful, hours of the year.  Once everyone has set up and the students arrive I am able to relax considerably.

Here are a few photographs from Friday.  Despite rainy weather throughout the day, everything went according to plans and the students had a great time learning new things.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My House Remains a Bird House

The pair of American Robins that are nesting on our house are currently busy providing food for a batch of hungry nestlings.  

Three beaks can be seen poking over the top of the nest in this photo

One of the young pops its head up to take a look

Mom (or dad) waits on the roof of the neighbor's house for me to finish taking photos and step away from the nest