I am sorry to see the month of July come to an end. Lake Superior keeps the hot temperatures to the south, and the temperature has been comfortable, but the lake has been unusually cold.
It has been an incredible summer for birds. The singing has now somewhat subsided, but in early summer we were thrilled to hear many birds singing we hadn’t heard for a few years. Mornings were so pleasant with purple finch, red starts, song sparrows, chestnut sided warblers, Northern parulas, and red-eyed vireos belting out their beautiful songs. Even though the singing has now subsided, we have an active crowd of baby birds trying to fill their hungry stomachs. Red starts and song sparrows were underfoot as I worked in my garden.
Many birds nest here because we have so many insects and caterpillars to feed their babies. This week we had many birds trying to eat the ripe elderberry berries. Today we had flickers, downy woodpeckers, chickadees, and cedar wax wings trying to hover and snatch one of these delicious berries. I’m sure they wish they could hover and fly like the hummingbirds.
The hummingbirds think they are king of the mountain. Life is a game to them as they wiz around. Even though they are the smallest they are the most aggressive and most visible. Their assertive behavior is entertaining as they are protect “their food.” I am sure the baby hummingbirds are learning from mom how to behave and survive.
Monarch butterflies visit daily
The number of butterflies has also subsided since early July, but a monarch makes a daily pilgrimage to our yard visiting the milkweed. Unfortunately, butterfly caterpillars don’t survive long because there are many baby birds to be fed. I hope that some survive as butterflies,
An American Lady caterpillar on pearly everlasting, it probably became bird food!
Spring arrives and shakes us out of all the darkness in our world! After a violent storm last night, I was worried about migrating birds and butterflies. Somehow, they manage to arrive and today I was treated to my first Painted Lady butterfly, a hummingbird, wrens and a Swainson’s Thrush.
Native plants create healthy food, homes and a resting spot for birds and butterflies.
Would you like your yard to be a resting spot for nature? My yard is for the birds. First, we never use chemicals as we try to create bee, butterfly and bird habitat. Lawn chemicals aren’t healthy for people and they sure aren’t healthy for wildlife either. Native plants do not need chemicals so they are a win-win. Start small, with easy to grow wild geraniums, bee balm and asters. These three plants will get you blooms in the spring, summer and fall, and they will bring joy to you and wildlife.
Bee balm is a magnet for birds, bees and butterflies!
“We can no longer simply “let nature take its course” and expect the return of productive ecosystems. Humans have meddled in too many ways that prevent nature from healing itself. We have introduced over 3,400 species of invasive plants to which local wildlife is not adapted, and we have eliminated the top predators that used to keep deer, raccoon, skunk, and possum populations in check. If we remove an essential part of an ecological community, we must replace it through active management or the system will collapse.” Doug Tallamy
My third idea for a healthy yard is creating a bee yard, and they are beautiful right now. The flowers of a bee lawn provide food (nectar and pollen) for pollinators. Bee lawns are environmentally friendly because they are managed using low-input methods that generally use less fertilizer and pesticides. Bee lawns can still be used recreationally by your household like a regular lawn. A bee lawn can attract over 50 species of native bees.
Ruffed grouse scare me as they fly up as I walk into my yard. A flock of juncos fly into our yard, robins are devouring the Mt. Ash berries, yellow-rumped warblers are diving to eat flies off our house. The nuthatch and blue jays are emptying the feeder, the goldfinch are munching on something in a dead white pine, and woodpeckers are busy making their marks on trees. Yes, it is October on the big lake and we are all getting ready for the winter months ahead. All the energy and activity makes us happy.
For many days thick Fog hung thick over the lake signaling the drought has subsided and rain is again common. After many dark days the sun is welcome
It has been an unusual Superior Views summer with a sun that seemed more intense than usual, and winds off the lake that were calmer than most summers. Sadly, wild fires from Canada and Northern Minnesota polluted the air quality for weeks at a time.
The warmer than normal summer changed the pattern of the plants and trees. The leaves turned earlier than normal and the flowers bloomed weeks earlier than usual. Actually, I think the native plants and flowers enjoyed the warm temperatures and milder winds, but the trees suffered with the heat and drought.
Lake Superior is not for sale! A local resident is trying to sell ground water for profit.
We are at the end of World Clean Up Month. As we pick up trash and works to keep our Earth clean, I always wonder, “What can we all do to keep the Earth cleaner and healthier?”
Bring your reusable water container.
My reuseable lunch containers
Today I walked by a car that had it’s back seat full of bottled water, and too often I see people with grocery carts full of bottled water. Why not purchase a large reusable container and fill that at a store? You could save hundreds of plastic bottles from ending in the landfill and live a more sustainable life.
I have confidence in our public water supply. I know where I live it is safe!
What are the costs of bottles water to our environment? A study done in Spain answers this question. Recycling and water in every community is different so we can’t make big generalizations, but in the United States recycling of plastic is only 9 tp 11% which makes bottled water awful for the environment. Also, the production of plastic uses fossil fuels and pollutes our air.
The study found that the environmental toll of bottled water was 1,400 to 3,500 times higher than that of tap water.
Vibrant fall colors that take your breath away, unusual cloud formations and migrating birds bring joy on this big lake. Autumn beauty brings a break from this pandemic and the raw politics of this election season. Our nesting birds have left for warmer climes, but migrating yellow-rumped warblers dive at our house chasing flies. Juvenile white- throated sparrows practice imperfect singing, and groups of juncos are abundant. The chickadees are emptying their feeder and chipmunks are underfoot as they busily prepare for a long winter. A month after the monarchs had left for Mexico, I was surprised to find a caterpillar munching on an old yellow milkweed. I moved the lone caterpillar to a healthy milkweed, but there probably isn’t time enough time for it to form a chrysalis and a mature monarch butterfly. I can only hope it was able to complete it’s cycle, and catch a strong north wind to Mexico. This year not all politics is forgotten. Campaign signs popped up on our road which I haven’t seen before, but the vast majority were hopeful signs of kindness for this northern Wisconsin community.
“Extra fresh? Extra wet? Extra extra? Extra beautiful? Extra Great? Extra gitchy? Extra deep? Extra wide? Extra voluminous? Extra fishy? Extra rocky? Extra clean? Extra cold? Extra Superior?” @Lake Superior (twitter)
Yes, extra Superior! A world pandemic is still raging, elected leaders incite violence, forest fires and hurricanes are constant, but no drama on Lake Superior. By August the lake has warmed and the contrast between the cold lake and warm air isn’t so extreme causing less drama. This lack of drama makes the big lake more peaceful as the gentle waves ripple to shore.
The loons call, and the eagles screech from their tree towering over the lake. The hummingbirds like little fairies hover and suck nectar from the last of the plants as they prepare for their long journey south.
Plants are turning brown, and yellow golden rod dominates. Blooming plants were early this year so they lose energy and turn brown sooner. Only a few butterflies remain, they have been replaced by grasshoppers, and like the birds the chipmunks are already busy preparing for winter.
July was a perfect time to indulge in watching butterflies and monarch caterpillars. Every new caterpillar was a celebration. Unfortunately, something else found them to be joyful food, and they disappeared. We suspect the chipmunks. Their numbers were too many this year, and they seemed to be watching my treasured caterpillars as much as I was! Every new butterfly I see I hope they were one of my precious fat caterpillars.
Surprisingly, in July the lake had a harder time keeping us cool from the hot humid summer south of us, but August brought 70 degrees days while a hundred miles south it was a hot humid 90 degrees.
On to September and more change, turning leaves and intense beauty! Extra beautiful!
June can be the best time of the year for pollinators. In northern Wisconsin and Minnesota it is an awesome time for seeing bees, and butterflies! Within two minutes I observed monarchs, swallowtails, sulphurs, northern crescents, painted ladies, dragon flies, and many skippers and bees on a small patch of hawkweed and daisies.
Everyone comments about the beautiful lupine near Lake Superior, and it is beautiful to human eyes. If you look closely, very few butterflies and bees crave lupine like they crave Canadian anemone, blooming chives, wild geraniums, blooming trees, forget-me-nots or daisies. The blooming plant that has surprised me the most this year is the orange hawkweed. It is not a native plant, but the butterflies love it.
It’s not the best time of the year to see birds, but if you can recognize their songs they bring constant musical joy. The song sparrow, chestnut sided warbler, and a pair of red starts joyfully sing all day.
As long as the sun shines the birds, bees and butterflies seem oblivious to the battle taking place on the big lake. The cold lake ties to dominate the warm tropical winds from the south, and the temperature can fluctuate from 60 degrees to 80 degrees every few minutes. It’s fascinating and refreshing! The days are long in these northern climes with the sun setting past 9pm and twilight lasting beyond 10pm. No matter where you live get outside and enjoy the marvelous butterflies of summer, in a few weeks they will be gone!
“Climate change will affect the availability, quality and quantity of water needed for basic human needs, thus undermining enjoyment of the basic rights to safe drinking water and sanitation for billions of people, warns the latest UN World Water Development Report.” United Nations
Today as we are all advised to wash our hands because of our world crisis, please take a moment to pause and think about our water. On World Water Day become mindful of your relationship to water on our planet. How do you use water? How many times during the day do you turn on the water faucet? Who keeps the water we drink and use safe? How does the water get to our houses? What can we do to conserve and keep our fresh water clean and safe?
The water we have on Earth is the only water we will ever have. It is used and reused as part of the water cycle. Please be mindful how you use it.
December 1, is the beginning of meterological winter, and it showed its true winter colors by stiking the south shore of Lake Suprerior with a massive snowfall. Yikes, have you tried to shovel 24 inches of snow? Never have we seen so much snow. It’s beautiful, but some people haven’t managed to get shoveled out 4 days later. Snow plows, trucks and snow blowers have broken down. A strong back/legs and a good snow shovel needed, and many help their neighbors. I am so thankful for our snow plower who faithfully cleared our 600 foot driveway. Read about the snow here.
With such heavy snow I worry about the survival of wildlife. For a few days I only saw crows, but today the chickadees are back singing. They are at the feeder with their friends the nuthatches, and blue jays and wood peckers are now out looking for food. The deer had to contend with deer hunting last week, and now they have to forge for food in almost impossible conditions. Deer tracks can be spotted in driveways so some have survived hunting and a major snowstorm, but the winter food find will be tough for them. See tracking animals
Oh August, what an enjoyable month on Lake Superior! The cold wind off the lake subsides making for sunny calm 70 degree days,and the quiet ripple of the waves is soothing. Eagles and sea gulls still screech at each other in their constant conflicts, and a pileated woodpecker bangs on dying trees, but like the hummingbirds most birds are getting ready to head south and are unusually silent.
August is one of my favorite months for watching butterflies. They bring joy as they flit around from plant to plant. The most common in my neighborhood is the white admiral, with frequent sighting of monarchs, fritillaries, and the tiny eastern-tailed blue.
Climate change is affecting the big lake. Weather patterns get stuck, and the rain and high water of the past few years is causing banks to collapse into the lake. Also, plastic is becoming a serious problem. Read about it here.