Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ole Man River

The Father Of Waters has changed big time. As a boy growing up, in St Paul, on the bluffs overlooking the Missippippi, the view of the river was wonderous indeed. From Daytons Bluff you could see the city skyline, dominated by the 1st National Bank, where my father worked. Directly across the river was the airport and to the left, the river disappeared into the unfathomable distance. Reading the adventures of Tom and Huck only added to the fascination. We played on those bluffs and often visited the river below. Reality set in then, with the smells, the garbage floating by and the sense that we were looking at an open sewer. Later, in the seventies, the passage of the Clean Air and Water Act seemed a hopeless gesture towards something better. It wasn't. Today the river, while by no means perfect, is much cleaner. A few years ago, I had to temporarily give up flyfishing due to a bad knee. Not willing to leave fishing entirely, I bought a fishing boat and began visiting the river again. Discovering the backwaters, I found solitude and good fishing. You could almost forget you were on a vital transportation artery and be reminded of canoe country in the Boundary Waters wilderness.On the main channel we passed the Corps of Engineers operating a dredge. This is neccesary to keep the river open to barge traffic. Huge mountains of muck and sand are sucked out each summer. Recently we went for a pleasure cruise up the length of Lake Pepin. The lake is actually a widening in the river. A fun outing often ends with a picnic or a lunch at one of the many riverside restaurants. Sunset and heading home....

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New Arrivals

Earlier this spring I noted a new small bird checking our front porch out. Looking for a nesting spot actually. A couple of days later nest construction was well underway. Having had some previous experience with messy barn swallows in the past, I was quick to inform Mrs. Spic and Span (a.k.a. Mrs T. ) She wasn't happy with the news.

The new arrival was actually one of our most familiar eastern flycatchers, the Eastern Phoebe’s whose raspy “phoebe” call is a frequent sound around yards and farms in spring and summer. These brown-and-white songbirds sit upright and wag their tails from prominent, low perches. They typically place their mud-and-grass nests in protected nooks on bridges, barns, and houses, which adds to the species’ familiarity to humans. Hardy birds, Eastern Phoebes winter farther north than most other flycatchers and are one of the earliest returning migrants in spring. I hinted rather broadly that the bird was likely an "endangered species", which it surely was from Mrs. T's use of the garden hose removal method. Here's the story.....

A few weeks later I checked the nest. There were five tiny eggs smaller than a dime.

Later I saw a tiny brown fuzz ball. I wasn't sure at first what I was looking at till I noticd the little beak sticking up...

Then one evening I heard some peeping and watched the parents hurrying back and forth bringing supper. I couldn't believe how crowded the nest had become. Those five little birds were literally piled on top of each other. Then one day they were all gone. Bon voyage little Phoebes. Its been nice making your acquantence. I hope you do well out in that big wide world out there. Come back and visit... even next spring.