Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
Click on Mark Twain to jump to Troutbirders book review blog

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


At Last, a Cell Phone for Seniors!  Well maybe. Maybe not.  My arthritic fingers can barely handle laptops much less up to date cellphone/I phone whatevers with their itty bity buttons....:(

But you REALLY have to be old enough to appreciate this:

The above comment and picture were received here by email recently. Talk about being really old and out of date, I didn't appreciate it because I'm old enough to remember, from visiting my rural cousins as a youth....... the hand cranked, party line telephones, that hung on the wall where you spoke into the speaker, while you held the reciver up to your ear. NOW THAT'S OLD! Oh and I forgot, you have to "ring up" the operator, who will make the call for you.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Hidden Figures

Click on Mark Twain above for my take on this movie....

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Butterfly Moment In The Sunny Garden

It's a little early for spring fever to set in but I had to admit my mind drifted back to the summer today when we built our new home in the woods next to our old home. We had divided our small acreage in the sale and I'd lost most of my sunny gardens. As the property was split,  about half of just one of the sunny gardens remained. Now I'm a shady gardener who treasures his tiny remnant of partial sun. Take a look.....

Monday, February 6, 2017

Winter On The Tundra

It's been a difficult winter here in the North Country. Sub zero temps and deep snow over hard layers of ice. For me, it means skipping the long hikes with Lily and staying by the comforts of a warm blanket, easy chair and stacks of books. To see the books I've been reading check out Troutbirder II by clicking on Mark Twains picture above.....
For the birds and animals who must scrape a living from the frozen earth it's a lot tougher. My friend Gary Erickson (Mr Science) still manages to go out and about though and take some pictures of the beauty and dangers of a Minnesota winter. Here a nowadays rare pheasant  is seen trying to feed on a corn shock bale. This is very unusual  and definitely shows desperation. Deer make a habit of visiting local  bird feeders including ours  in the evening.
Here on Troutbirder Ranch, the story is the same as I've be feeding
 birds, in huge numbers. And are they hungry! The top trifecta are the juncos & gold, purple & house finches. On some mornings I’ve seen well more than one hundred gathered about. Also, quite prevalent, are the nuthatches, chickadees, and bluejays. Daily, but not in large numbers, are mourning doves, cardinals, starlings, downy, hairy and red bellied woodpeckers.
The local turkey flock often slips quietly through our woods. They tend to be quite cautious as a certain  German Shepherd enjoys chasing them. They cross onto the blacktop in front of our house. Then march parade style up the road till they come to the goat pasture across the way. Having established a peaceful relationship with the unconcerned goats they forage for spilled grain. It's quite a show.

Winter, it's a tough go, here on the Tundra

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

I Could Tell You Stories

From Minnesota's best all around author, poet, writer, essayist, Professor of English literature, and above all memoirist comes a collection of sojourns in the land of memory I COULD TELL YOU STORIES.  Wonderful! Click on Mark Twain above and jump to Troutbirder II to find out why....

Friday, January 27, 2017

Toot Daloot

As my maternal grandmother asked me several times when I was in elementary school "yous guise going toot Daloot?"  And sure enough I'd often answer, "you betcha, Gramma."
So sure enough, Mrs. T. and I took a trip toot Daloot  last fall. It was a glorious weekend.
Access to the Duluth Harbor
The old time "lift bridge" no longer the main connection to Superior, Wisconsin.
Once huge ore carriers brought Minnesota iron ore to Eastern steel mills. Now taconite serves as well as grain to markets around the world.
Later that afternoon the lady in the blue coat and I took Skyline Parkway up to Hawk Ridge overlooking Duluth. Here many thousands of raptors and other birds funnel around gigantic Lake Superior in their fall migration to warmer climes southward.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Bridge Over Troubled Water

Sail on, silvergirl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
If you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
It had been a late, wet, and cold spring last year.  The water was almost bank high as we hiked with Lily along the trail toward the bridge and the long trek up to Mystery Springs. There had been little trout fishing  as health issues made hiking a better choice for all three of us.

We crossed the bridge, noting a beautiful stretch of trout water, I hoped to fish that fall. Little could I know that this would be a bridge crossing troubled water then after unusual and severe floods came tumbling through the valley at that time.
It will recover of course and hoping most of the trout survived the floods I reflected back to my favorite childhood baseball team the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Whose immortal rallying cry was "Wait Till Next Year" after losing once again in the World Series to the hated Yankees......


Monday, January 16, 2017


I saw a woodpecker this morning at my suet feeder and it was one I’d never seen in my yard before, much less in the middle of January. Still, we’ve had a lot of different species of poodweckers here over the years. Here’s an accounting…..


Most common are the look alike Downy’s and Hairy’s.  The latter are about one/third bigger.  They are both at my suet feeders year around with the Downy’s somewhat more numerous.

Next, also year around and fairly common are the red bellied woodpeckers.  This has been so for at least 15 to 20 years now but represents a big change from the past. They have gradually expanded their range while replacing the red headed woodpecker.

Redheaded woodpeckers have now become occasional, even rare visitors,  in our woods. This appears to be true thru much of southeastern Minnesota were they were once common. The reasons for this change seem to be unclear…


I have seen Pileated Woodpeckers in my yard about 5 times in fifty years of living here on Oak Hill.  They are a deep big woods bird more common in the few remaining tracts of river bottoms and State Parks and Reserves. They are found in such places years round.  One of them really stands out in my memory. Some years ago I had a very large black cherry tree next to my house.  Looking out our  living room window into the backyard, I noticed piles of woodchips surrounding that tree.  Thinking a possible vandal had gone amok with a chainsaw, further investigation revealed it had been a pileated woodpecker at work.  Turned out the tree was mostly hollow and teeming with huge black carpenter ants.  Since it already leaned abit toward our house I had the tree removed and owed The Pileated Family a debt of gratitude for revealing our danger.

 I had to go far afield to see my first Lewis woodpecker. Named after the undaunted explorer Merewether Lewis it is a Western bird who range extends only as far east as the Badland of South Dakota. That's where I saw it along with a Clarks Nutcracker a member of the Jay family.
 Lewis and Clark as it were....:)

Yellow shafted Northern Flicker (a ground hunting for insects member of the woodpecker family)..  Quite common here except in Winter. Today I saw one at the suet feeder.  January 15th amazing….:)

And finally for you veteran bloggers who remember back in the day my all time favorite----Woody