Troutbirder II

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

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Rare Wildflowers

In both the plant and animal world localities have common species, rarities and every degree in between.  Here in Bluff Country (southeastern Minnesota) two of my favorite wildflowers are Michigan Lilies and Yellow Moccasin flowers.

Unfortunately for the uninitiated (including me) Michigan Lilies (L. michiganense) are often misidentified  as “Turks Cap Lilies” (L. superbum).  These plants are becoming uncommon in the wild due to cultivation and roadside mowing. Like most lilies the plants grow from a bulb with offsetting rhizomes. L. superbum has a white bulb and the rhizomes branch; L. michiganense has a yellow bulb and the rhizomes do not branch. L. superbum prefers sites that are moister such as moist meadows and thickets, rich wood openings and the edges of marshes and is adapted to somewhat less sun, whereas L. michiganense is more adapted to prairies, ditches, woodland edges where it gets more sun.
Turks Cap Lily
Michigan Lilies...
Michigan Lilies and Pale Cone
flowers near Lake Louise State Park
"Stop dear so I can jump out and get some close-up's!"
There are several kinds of native orchids in Minnesota. The most famous is the Showy Pink Ladyslipper, our State flower found only in the North Country. Here in the southeast I look for the Yellow Moccasin Flower.  All the native orchids are becoming increasingly rare though protected.  Still there may be pockets here and there where they may seem abundant. 
How sweet it is....! 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Isle Royale

Mrs. T. and I have visited and/or camped in many of our wonderful National Parks across the country. Our latest a few weeks ago was Isle Royale.  Join us for a quick look…..
We joined our local tour group, Historic Travel and Adventures, for the bus ride to beautiful Copper Harbor on Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The next day  we hopped aboard a ferry for the trip to Isle Royal.

The Park, located in Lake Superior's northwest corner is a wilderness archipelago - a roadless land of wild creatures, unspoiled forests, refreshing lakes, and rugged, scenic shores - accessible only by boat or floatplane. Travel on and around the island by foot, boat, or float plane. Isle Royale has 165 miles of scenic hiking trails ready for exploration and 36 campgrounds for backpackers and recreational boaters. Excellent fishing opportunities abound on one of the Island's many inland lakes or on Lake Superior.
Approaching Isle Royale
Ninety nine percent of the island is wilderness though there was a visitor center and a nice lodge nearby.  The wilderness aspect was exemplified by the fact that the vast majority of people aboard the ferry were young and carrying heavy looking backpacks.  The atmosphere was remindful of Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness (BWCW) without the canoes. That kind of living was long past for us and we were just visiting for the day. We joined a Ranger for a short walk/talk after a picnic lunch provided by our tour director.
Later, after a "required" visit to the gift shop, the shopper and I hike a trail for about an hour.  We checked out one campground which surprisingly had some shelters. This was a new wrinkle for me as I was used to pitching my tent under the stars. I don't know if this was typical of all the camping areas or not.
Along the trail lots of woodland wildflowers.  For us Minnesotans used to red it's an unusual purple columbine.

To explore a rugged, isolated island, far from the sights and sounds of civilization, Isle Royale offers unparalleled solitude.  My kind of place..... 

Monday, July 27, 2015

On Pluto

Click on Mark Twains picture above to jump to Troutbirder II book reviews.....

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Junkyard Dogs

Less than three blocks away from our rural home on Oak Hill,  was a large junkyard on the edge of town. We had a "nice" view of it from our kitchen window. A very large junkyard dog guarded it jealously. The place was a major eyesore for our community.

Some years back the junkyard dog showed up on my front steps. Foaming at the mouth, it clearly needed to be muzzled. Ooops, I downloaded the wrong picture. . Oh well... Ann "Potty Mouth" Coulter works here just as well. Though, I might add, she  even lost a lot of her audience on "Fix" News  in recent years even with the "wingnut" set. 

It must have been Ladybird Johnson’s Highway Beautification Plan that got the ball rolling on its the elimination of the junkyard eyesore. The land eventually became city property.  More recently,  my GSD and I went for a hike on the site of the former junkyard. It’s now called Willow Creek Park, named in honor of the dozens of willow trees  along the State Highway and adjacent trout stream
As you can see, the former junkyard is now the location of a verdant small prairie and a hiking trail. That trail was eventually  connected to the new bike trail leading out of town to the"City Farm" property." Mid July sees the area covered with native sunflowers and other wildflowers.

On the site is a small spring-fed pond. It was once covered with oil slicks and toxics from rusting car batteries. Now, it is a haven for the frog chorus and migrating waterfowl. Someday, it may be a small fishing pond for kids.
Lets take a look at a few of the native wildflowers growing there. Some Common Sunflowers and Joe Pye Weed are most obvious.
Another native sunflower the tall Cup Plant, whose leaves can collect tiny pockets of rainwater.

Verbain is seen along the adjacent road.
Gray-headed Coneflowers.
Common Sunflowers
and Goldenrod

It took some thirty years to build the bike trail as the city was unwilling to use its eminent domain and condemnation powers. Now, according to a recent Supreme Court ruling, Wal Mart or any major private enterprise with money and influence can do that legally. Corporations are "people" now, apparently.  Willow Creek Park is a small example of the benefits of providing for the common interest over private greed or misuse. Some "junkyard dogs" try to scare us by using words like "socialism." If this is socialism, I'm all for it.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Love, Greg & Lauren

A survival story in the aftermath of 9/11.  I couldn't put it down.  See Troutbirder II for details.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Rise and Fall of the History Channel

Here’s an update from one of my first blogging efforts in 2009. Close to a thousand posts ago…
The History Teacher

History is one of my things. I love reading it, especially biographies of interesting people. I tried to make it exciting for my students. So it's no wonder when satellite TV became available in our rural area, I jumped at it. Why? Well there was The Twins & The Gophers, possibly a good classic movie and most definitely the History Channel.

How sad. Some place along the line that the History Channel forgot about history.

First, it took up bizarre spooky stuff allegedly from the past. It was weird really. Then it’s ultimate downfall in more recent years.  It had started down the path of the wildly popular, so called  reality programming which is found on most channels these days. “Reality" TV. What a farce!  "Real" people searching for monsters and fearsome aliens. "Real" people having "real" personality issues while logging, trucking, surviving nude in the jungle and about everything else. They pay people to think of this crap?

The only thing they haven’t got to yet is "Hookers." But no doubt it’s on the way.  I’ve given up even checking to see if by chance something historically interesting is on this sad excuse for a history channel. I’ve  considered giving up on pay TV entirely. Or upgrading to something like HBO, which at least has the occasional well done movie on a historical subject. Of course, lest we forget there is always of 24/7 cycle of superficial sensational “news” and the even more “entertaining” exploitation of our fears and prejudices on the well known “fair and balanced” channel. 

The history channel. Or as the little old granny once said long ago, in a campaign ad for Walter Mondale, about his opponent, "Where’s the beef?"  Truth to tell, apparently a large portion of the TV audience prefers fluff over protein.
Perhaps, Newton Minow, Jack Kennedys Chairman of the FCC, who once described Television back in the sixties as a "vast wasteland" summed it up best...


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Lunch on the Mississippi

During his recent visit home, my son Tony and I spent a day fishing on The Father of Waters.  We took a break for lunch, floating down the Minnesota shoreline, only to discover we weren't alone in that endeavor.  We saw a pair of immature eagles circling above us when a high pitched squawking noise drew our attention to the trees along the shoreline, slightly downstream. Take a look....
  Apparently, we weren't the only successful fishermen that day.
Nor about to have lunch!
After snapping these quick photos we drifted on past so the two circling fledglings could feel safe enough to join their mom for a fish lunch.