Troutbirder II

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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Camping, Fishing & Biking Weather

With woodland flowers blooming in Forestville Park, it's time to head off to the County Fairgrounds and pick up our camper and fishing boat. Perhaps we might break out our bikes from their winter slumber as well. A high today is forcast for close to eighty degrees. All is possible as Mrs. T. continues her excellent recovery from recent surgery.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Listing The Goethite W.M.A.

I taught American History & World Geography in a Middle School for 12 years. Previously, I had taught Economics, Sociology, & Political Science at the 12th grade level for over 25 years. I loved every minute of it. I never taught ACCOUNTING OR BOOKKEEPING. Math was necessary for my checkbook but not a favorite subject. Then, in the twilight years of retirement, I took up BIRDING. For some birders, keeping track of one's sightings is part of the deal. Now, in my fourth full year of this fascinating hobby, I have joined the M.O.U (Minnesota Ornithogical Union) and ebird (Cornel University) You might say I am a "lister". It's just like being a bookkeeper/accountant. My M.O.U. list is just for Minnesota sightings. I am up to 194 on that one. On Ebird, which you can list birds from anywhere in the world, I am over 254. This includes quite a few from two visits to Florida. Any new bird added to these lists is a "lifer." Ebird is especially handy because you can go back and find dates and locations for any of your sightings. You can keep track of lists there by nation, state, county, town or individual favorite spots (like "Troutbirders backyard").
Here is one of my "favorites" . Its called the Goethite. The Goethite Wildlife Management Area consists of hundreds of acres of ponds (former iron mining pits), prairie, woods and a stream. The following list is of of sightings there so far this year (since Jan. 1). Its been mostly waterfowl to this point but in a few weeks lots of songbirds will begin appearing.
I might add that I have a phenomenally BAD memory for things that don't interest me a whole lot, like addresses, phone numbers, social security etc. You know the practical things one needs to know. Now I can, however, tell you the exact locations where I caught a fish on a lake I haven't been on in thirty years. And all the good "honey holes" on a myriad of trout streams. The birding list allows me to do the same thing. Would you like to see the Oak Tree near Lanesboro Minnesota where I saw my first Snowy Owl in 1976? There is a fence post east of Custer, South Dakaota that had a Lewis's Woodpecker sitting..... Ok ok. History and Geography teachers can be like that. Goethite WMA Sightings Jan 1 - March 28, 2012.
Snow Goose 75, Canada Goose 35, Wood Duck 4, Mallard 36, Ring-necked Duck 11, Lesser Scaup 16, Hooded Merganser 8, Common Merganser 2,, Rough-legged Hawk 2, Sandhill Crane 2, Killdeer 16, Loggerhead Shrike 1, Blue Jay 1 American Crow 8, Eastern Bluebird 2, American Robin 5, American Tree Sparrow 2, Fox Sparrow 1, Red-winged Blackbird 22, Eastern Meadowlark 2.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that the Goethite also is a great place for Baron to romp and swim without
having to be confined by a leash.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Washington Monument

On Tuesday, August 23, 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake, occurred 84 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., damaging the Washington Monument. The National Park Service has temporarily closed the Monument and is assessing the damage to it. Repairs will soon be underway. These headlines bring to mind a previous incident of mine involving repairs and maintenence to the iconic monument. A few years back we had decided to visit colonial Williamsburg with our friends Gary & Rosie. Since we also planned on Gettysburg, I suggested a quick stop in Washington D.C. to see the new Holocaust Museaum before heading on to Virginia. We camped in Maryland the night before and then took a van into the Metro Station. The train dropped us off underground of the Mall in Washington. This is where it went downhill quickly. My only excuse for what happened next is that (1) it had been a few years (actually my high school senior trip) since I'd been there, and (2) I'm a little slow coming to full consciousness in the morning, especially in a new or changed environment. Yah sure! Anyway, emerging from underground onto the Mall, I looked right and then left to orient myself, whereupon I said, quoting from memory, "the Washington Monument is gone! And there replacing it with a blue, skyscraper motel." Spouse and friends looked at me with open-mouthed astonishment and then burst into laughter. I took a second look and my too quick erroneous conclusion became readily apparent. The momument was surrounded by scaffolding and much of that was covered by a blue tarp. I didn't get a picture of the blue tarp covering it but you get the idea. How come people never let you forget these kind of moments?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Minnesota Morning

I open up my sleepy eyes and seeThe morning just the way that it should beBy the setting of the midnight moonThe rising of the sunAnd the feeling like I've only just begunThe morning mist still lies upon the groundAnd it comes and goes but doesn't make a soundAnd the heavy of the midnight airLightens with the dayThere's a Minnesota Morning on the wayThere's a Minnesota Morning on my mindAnd it's precious as the fruit on the vineAnd I haven't seen a day like thisAnytime I've been awayMinnesota I am here and I'm gonna stayThe sunlight shimmers through the treesWhile the birds sing their peaceful melodiesAnd there seems to be a whisperSome magic in the airSomething I just couldn't find anywhereThere's a Minnesota Morning on the wayAnd I've tried a million times to find todayNow I know I'll never find oneWith a sky so blueOne that makes me feel the way I doThere's a Minnesota Morning on my mindAnd it's precious as the fruit on the vineAnd I haven't seen a day like thisAnytime I've been awayMinnesota I am here and I'm gonna stay
by Jeff Brooks

Good morning world. Have a great day. Troutbirder

Monday, March 12, 2012

Gitchee Gumee

"By the shores of Gitchee Gumee, By the shining Big-Sea-Water, Stood the wigwam of Nokomis, Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis. Dark behind it rose the forest, Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees, Rose the firs with cones upon them; Bright before it beat the water, Beat the clear and sunny water, Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water. There the wrinkled old Nokomis, Nursed the little Hiawatha, Rocked him in his linden cradle, Bedded soft in moss and rushes."

[Hiawatha & Minnehaha]

Many of the names in Longfellow's epic poem (over 200 pages), Nokomis, Wynona, Pipestone, Minnehaha, Escanaba and others are familiar in the north central states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Gitchee Gumee means something like "shining big water" but is plain old Lake Superior nowadays. I liked Gitchee Gumee better. My two sons, as young teenagers, knew these words well. I often recited them as we traveled along the "North Shore" on our way to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in the Arrowhead Country of Northeastern Minnesota. Yes, they looked at me with more than a little bemusement, when I carried on.... but the education of our youth takes a special effort.... [Taken on a very cold winter morning during out recent trip along the North Shore]

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sweeter Than Candy

I moved to small town Bluff Country from the Big City almost some fifty years ago. Here, in southeastern Minnesota, I began a teaching career, married and helped raise a family. It was and is the good life. Living in the country brought the opportunity to have my first dog. He was what today would be called a "designer" dog. Then he was called a mutt. He was half Golden Retriever and half German Shorthair Pointer. His name was Max. He looked like the Marley of movie fame.
Unbeknowst to me at the time he would turn out to be the perfect bird dog. I took up the sport and pursued it for decades. Max was followed by two Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. My sons also came to enjoy hunting.
I gave up hunting several years ago now. My sons were grown up and gone, with sloughs ditched and drained, a bad knee and No Trespassing everywhere, it seemed the right time. Missing the loyal companionship of my hunting dogs, I went in a new direction and got a German Shepherd, Baron. Now, I’m into long walks with him, my binoculars and camera in hand. Still hunting birds though in a different way now.
Thus, it was with great pleasure to open a package sent to me by EcoRover (Pat Munday) and find a book by Paul Vang, Sweeter Than Candy. Sweet it proved to be. It was if I was transported back in time to those wonderful years of tramping the prairies, picked fields and along fence lines. Jump shooting along small creeks for ducks and the occasional goose. Then, there were the oak woods and brushy bottoms. The aspen bottoms, where the elusive grouse wereto be found. What a trip down memory lane as each chapter seemed to trigger a smile and even some chuckles about all the birds I missed. If you liked bird hunting you’ll love this book. I highly recommend it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

New Friends For Baron

Last fall Mrs. T, I and Baron the GSD, had gone on a short fall camping trip to Glacial Lakes State Park in North Central Minnesota. After several days of hiking, we drove up towards Fargo-Moorhead to check out Maplewood State Park. It was a wonderful day and after some backroads touring, we stopped at the park's picnic area for lunch. There was some sort of a festival going on but other than having a hard time finding a picnic table, we didn't pay too much attention to it. It was after sitting down to eat that we noted the other picnicers were mainly of Asian extraction and speaking something other than English. I wasn't sure what it was. Then curious people began to stop and look at Baron. Taking a chance, I spoke up in English, inviting anyone to feel free to pet the dog. Tentatively, at first, a few tried it, until eventually they came over by the dozens. Cameras were everywhere. The opportunity had opened up after some chitchat about my "big boy" to say, "so where are you folks from.?" It turned out they were all teachers, students and family on an outing from North Dakota State University in Fargo. And all were on exchange programs from The Peoples Republic of China. What a fun picnic that was....

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Central Park West

Last fall after the harvest season of their farming operation and a major renovation of the farmhouse was over, and our good friends Steve and Jewel took on a "small" landscaping project. Troutbirder, who has created some woodland gardens on his own property, was asked for a little advice. He volunteered that hosta was particularly effective in the shade. Of course, Jewell said wildflowers would be especially attractive in their native setting. Some improvement would be needed along the ditches. And a large fire pit for barbequing was essential in the picnic area. Steve watched with a somewhat bemused expression. At that point, the name Central Park West was suggested for the whole project. Mild weather in late fall helped and a good start was made. Now we’re all looking forward to spring to see the first results.