Monday, July 30, 2012

MAGGOTS! MAGGOTS! and more marvelous maggots!

all photos by Jonathan Schechter
ABOVE: Dead deer on the roadside in Michigan

Maggots! The world would be a messy and smelly diseased place with out them.
Maggot is a slang term and it covers the larvae of a host of species of flies.
 They are found around the world and usually appear on carrion and corpses in as little as 24 hours after death in the hot sun. 
 Michigan roadkill is usually coated with crawling maggots two days after the creatures demise and then turkey vultures descend to finish the clean up job. Medical professionals know that maggots are on their way to an established role in treating wounds.Today doctors use medicinal maggots to clean wounds by dissolving dead tissue and to disinfect them by killing bacteria.
These actions stimulate proper healing; first noted back in our Civil War when wounded soldiers were left on
bloodied battlefields and maggots saved the lives of some by cleaning out tissues.
 Ice fisherman pay for maggots to use them as bait! 
 Criminologists use maggots to determine the time of death of humans found in unusual circumstance;
different species of  flies lay eggs at different times after the last gasp is taken.
 I look at the marvelous maggots as just another wonder of ever evolving world of nature in which we are a part.

                                    The two images above are of a zebra on the sun scorched sands of Tanzania, a  very 'ripe' creature
 I encountered three years ago before my Kilimanjaro ascent.
The maggots boiled out of all orifices and the rest of the clean up was left to the scavengers.

A recently dead raccoon with flies laying eggs in the moist mouth, a perfect maggot incubator.

A freshly decapitated mouse on the Macomb Orchard (bike) Trail that flies found just after sunrise. The severed head was about six inches away.  Perhaps the work of a screech owl startled by another predator or perhaps something that only the mouse knew of. Regardless the mouse will vanish thanks to the maggots of nature.
Love'em or hate'em, we need maggots.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Old Friends of The Flowering Kind

Joe-pye weed on the banks of Michigan's Rife River
 photos by Jonathan Schechter  July/2012

The relentless heat of  late July has two old friends in full bloom.
One likes its feet (roots) wet, the other dry but both are plants rich in memories for me.
Joe-pye weed sends me back to the river banks of the meandering Winooski River in Vermont, where my introductions to the herbals, the edibles and the mysterious plants of nature flamed my desire to know more in my early hippie days at Goddard College in Plainfield Vermont.  Joe-pye weed has a rich herbal history and is named after a New England native healer that went my the name Joe-pye. The herbal history and varied uses are too long, and perhaps too controversial for my newspaper sponsored blog but it suffices to say I smile when I see this old friend of mine.

Common chicory added brilliant splashes of pale blue after the last light rain to the dry meadows and roadsides of northern Oakland County and most everywhere else in the Midwest where this dry footed plant thrives.  On occasion I add the young bitter leaves of this old friend to salads--that is before the blooms open.
 But now that chicory is at its peak the roots draw my attention.
Chicory has multiple uses for humans but my favorite is baking the roots as a coffee substitute.
And keen eyed observers will note that new blossoms open almost every day. You won't find that in a text book, but just a fact gleaned from watching my blue petaled old friend.

Friday, July 20, 2012

TrailsideTurtle Egg Omlette!

photo by Jonathan Schechter
July 14, 2012

Somewhere in the woods along the Shiawassee River Loop Trail in Holly, Michigan a raccoon is resting in a tree with a full belly. What we see here are the remains of a turtle nest.  A turtle dug an egg-laying hole in the dry hard packed sands of the trail but to soften it for digging she first urinated. 
 (Raccoons like turtles that pee in the sand!)
After laying her eggs she crawled back to to the waters to never return.
Most likely on the same evening or perhaps the next night a raccoon wise to the ways and scents of turtles located the nest and methodically dug out and ate every egg: a perfect omlette for the raccoon.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The insect that buzzes like a chain saw!

Cicada exoskeleton on a rain barrel
photo by Jonathan Schechter

Cicadas are the proveribial insect of summer.  Their chain saw like buzzing is a common sound in the woods and over the hills of Oakland County and most areas of Michigan and the Midwest.  In  'normal' times their music to attract mates is the melody of the  sultry Dog Days of August.  Abnormal heat and rising soil temperatures have changed all that.
Early this morning I sat on my porch  sipping iced coffee and before the sun climbed over the top of the barn the cicadas were back to their music. 
 Their overpowering hum confirm what we already know:
 Summer is heating up: FAST

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fawn Alarm Clock

photo by Jonathan Schechter, July 14, 2012

My screened porch often becomes the  perfect place to sleep on warm summer nights. No need for air-conditioning to be turned on inside when fresh cool breezes drift in the night air and the whinny of screech owls and  yip and howl of coyotes is background music under the stars.  And for the second morning in a row my "alarm clock" has been a curious fawn that appears in my front yard meadow with her mom to nibble on fallen black walnut leaves, raspberries leaves and wildflowers.
This morning at about 7 am as I loitered a bit on the cot I had a feeling I was not alone.
The fawn was just a few feet away looking at me through the screen.
How did I get the camera ready so quickly?
I had it cot side all night in hopes of capturing an image of the northern lights

Monday, July 9, 2012


photos by Jonathan Schechter

When the mercury pushes into the 90's humans act like the world is about to end. Wildlife adjusts.
This groundhog (woodchuck) took on a "What will be will be" attitude and sprawled out as flat as could be on the relatively cool walkway near the parking lot of Kensington Metropark Nature Center.
The gray treefrog (below) found sanctuary from the sun under a rug I had left on my deck rail to wash. 
Now the rug must stay, for today is the second day in a row this master of camouflage and lightning fast bug-slurping has sheltered there during the heat of the day. And dusk the treefrog comes out to hunt!

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Northern Oakland County, Michigan  July 5, 2012
photo by Jonathan Schechter

Powerful winds stormed through Oakland County two days in a row leaving many residents without powers and utility companies scrambling to restore power.  The process is often slow and some of the burden drifts over to local fire departments to standby at hazards.  Many hazards have no one standing guard.
What the general public often think is safe is not.
In this photo steam and smoke are rising from a branch snapped by powerful winds. 
What is not visible to the casual observer is a primary high voltage line is in contact with the tree about 40 feet from this image. The tree is electrified and so is the ground.
When the fire department, sheriff's dept or utility workers say you may not proceed and you must stop ,
No means No.
Ignorance of facts or ignoring the request can lead to your death: Simple as that!