Troutbirder II

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

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Writers block

They're are bound to be days like this and I can't seem to think of anything to write about.....

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Pale Horseman

The last unvanquished piece of England, Wessex is eyed hungrily by the fearsome Viking conquerors. A dispossessed young nobleman, Uhtred is tied to the imperiled land by birth and marriage but was raised by the Danish invaders—and he questions where his allegiance must lie. But blood is his destiny, and when the overwhelming Viking horde attacks out of a wintry darkness, Uhtred must put aside all hatred and distrust and stand beside his embattled country's staunch defender—the fugitive King Alfred.

 The Pale Horseman is a gripping, monumental adventure that gives breathtaking life to one of the most important epochs in English history—yet another masterwork from New York Times bestselling author Bernard Cornwell.

And with that breathless introduction this opponent of “Wars of Choice” in modern American confesses to loving Bernard Cornwells bloodthirsty battles scenes in his historical novels.  All of them,  though the best was Agincourt and King Henry’s army who gave life to Shakespeares “band of brothers.”  And not to worry, I don’t play or approve of violent video games, gratuitous violence in movies nor verbal abuse in  any form….


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I love a few deer.

But not a huge herd in my back yard.  We always like to see a few wander out of the nearby woods. Sometime even visiting our backyard bird feeders.   Now though,  it seems our neighbors a few houses down the block love seeing them so much they have installed one of those giant barrel deer feeders on a tall tripod in their backyard.  And in this years hard winter dozens and dozens of deer have migrated into our little corner of suburbia to feast on the free corn and shrubs and trees.  White cedar which divides and screens homes is a particular favorite. If they can reach it they'll eat it.  Take a look.....

Unable to keep my bird feeders full and counting twenty deer in my backyard one in evening in February, I pulled the plug on the sunflower operation. Fortunately, I didn't have any cedar trees in my yard and the fir trees were left alone.
Out birding last week in the nearby woods I ran across this guy. And walked right up to him. He showed no sign of fear or concern.

I could have reached out and touched him but didn't, only saying "good morning" and walking on....
 I'm thinking for the deer to become this acclimated to people is not a good thing for either deer or people.  There is some ill will among some or our neighbors on the whole issue of winter feeding the deer. Fortunately, it has not risen anywhere near the level of a recent incident in the Twin Cities area.  
The fatal shooting recently of a Minnesota man followed  years-long standoff between neighbors over feeding deer, police said. Todd Stevens, 46, was killed by a shotgun blast at his home in New Brighton, a Minneapolis suburb. Arrested was his neighbor, Neal Zumberge, 57.
Good grief!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Eagle Rescue and Release

Last week, we got to see something wonderful - an eagle released back to the wild!

On April 14, two male eagles in Wabasha, Minnesota  were found tangled up on the ground. Fortunately, one of the National Eagle Center  staff lives nearby and was able to help with the rescue. A team of neighbors, friends and local law enforcement came together to separate the eagles. Since both eagles were males and nesting season is in full swing, their dispute was likely over nesting territory. 

The eagles were taken to The Raptor Center in St Paul. They found that both of the eagles had puncture wounds from each other's talons, but would survive their injuries. One of the eagles had a 'brood patch', an area of bare skin that birds develop when incubating eggs. Since he was more likely the bird that was defending a nesting territory, he was returned to the same area for release. (The other bird was released near the Twin Cities to avoid another territorial dispute!)


See the whole story here:

Another injured and rehabilitated Bald Eagle is Angel.  Unable to fly she lives at the National Eagle Center and does educational work with students and others. I met her wading along the shore of the Mississippi River where she gets to take weekly hikes in the summer with a volunteer. What a sweetheart!  :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


It’s about war, politics and Washington personalities so, naturally, it’s a big best seller and I read all 600 pages.  Whew! The book is Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.  Written by former defense Secretary Robert Gates , it's possibly one of the strangest books in the memoir genre I’ve ever read. Truly  a captivating account of one insiders experience at the crossroads of two wars and the two very different Presidents he worked for.

Gates left Washington in 2011 with a reputation as a steady and sober  member  of the foreign policy establishment who had served eight presidents and was admired equally by Republicans and Democrats. After some forty years in various government positions in Washington he’s not likely to go back as this book cuts to the chase and pulls no punches on anything and anyone.  Like the author it’s honest, heartfelt (his devotion to America and its soldiers) and full of contradictions and inconsistencies.

In Duty, Gates takes the reader inside the war-room deliberations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and delivers unsentimental assessments of each man’s temperament, intellect and management style. “It is difficult to imagine two more different men,” Gates writes.
He slams Congress for its grandstanding and gridlock. Repeatedly cuts Joe  Biden, the vice president, as loud, garrulous and obsessed with politics over substance. He trashed and tried to reform  the Pentagon itself for its bureaucratic ossification which had put America’s soldiers at greater risk in two wars.  Mr. Gates successfully performed  the task of turning around those two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) that the U.S. was losing. His accomplishments are the more remarkable because he served two presidents whose attitudes toward the wars they were waging were as different as their political parties. George W. Bush wanted to win, and Barack Obama wanted to get out.

For those who love history and an insider view of American foreign policy you’ll love the revelations Gates provides on major decisions from late 2006 to 2011, during the last part of the George W. Bush administration and the first part of the Obama administration And when Gates, a lifelong Soviet expert, met face to face with the Russian president Vladimir Putin, he found himself staring not into the man’s soul (as Bush believed he had) but instead into the eyes of “a stone-cold killer.” And that's just a tidbit related to today's news.....

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mothers Day

Corsage from our sons Ted and Tony
Corsage from our daughter in law Deanne

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Unusual Pictures

A few unusual pictures from my cousin Terry in Idaho.....
and which photo do you like???

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Out and About With Miss Lily

Our adopted GSD Miss Lily is adjusting  well from her unfettered free range life on the farm to a more regulated life here in suburbia. This means, though we have an “invisible fence system,” she requires long hikes on a daily basis. She even “helps” Troutbirder on his birding outings. Take a look……

"No Lily, mooching on the deck is not allowed!"
"Hey Ladies, at least the snow is finally gone from the woods. Lets head up the trail to see if the beaver have rebuilt their dam from last years flood." This in Forestville State Park.
"Sure enough. The Army Corps of Engineers has nothing on these guys...."
"Time to start heading back up the trail, Ladies."
 Sometimes other people join us for hikes. Here brother in law Bill comes along as we check out a prairie burn at Lake Louise State Park.
And Mrs. T's nephew Ray Jr. with wife Ann join us on a trail in the deep woods.
"Hey Troutbirder, with all this hiking you got us way tired out...."

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Thing With Feathers

The Thing With Feathers is both an entertaining and scientifically based  look at the lives of birds, illuminating their surprising world.

 Forget the phrase “bird brain”.  Birds are highly intelligent animals, yet their intelligence is dramatically different from our own and has been little understood. As scientists come to understand more about the secrets of bird life, they are unlocking fascinating insights. This book highlights some of them.

The Thing with Feathers explores the astonishing homing abilities of pigeons, the good deeds of fairy-wrens, the influential flocking abilities of starlings, the deft artistry of bowerbirds, the extraordinary memories of nutcrackers, the lifelong loves of albatross, and other mysteries—revealing why birds do what they do, and offering a glimpse into our own nature.

Noah Strycker makes a interesting  point in The Thing With Feathers, his book about bird behavior. "A recent shift in scientific thinking about animal behavior encourages us to concentrate less on the uniqueness of humans and more on what the human animal shares with other animals," he writes. Activities once considered strictly human, such as dancing to music, recognizing one's own reflection and creating art "are now recognized in birds," he adds. "This isn't anthropomorphism at all; anyone who suggests otherwise is ignoring a large part of what it means to be a bird."

Beautiful and wise, funny and insightful, The Thing with Feathers is a gripping and enlightening journey into the lives of birds. I really enjoyed this book.  You might as well…..  provided you’re a bird watcher or just plain curious about the natural world around  you.
Troutbirder (on left) and birding friends after spotting a rare (for Minnesota) female summer tanager.  Such excitement.....:)