Troutbirder II

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

Friday, May 29, 2015

Boob Job

Beaver Creek Valley State Park is a 1,187 acre Minnesota State Park near the town of Caledonia. The park features a steep, narrow valley carved by East Beaver Creek, a spring-fed trout stream. The heavily forested valley, up to 250 feet deep in places, is a hidden natural oasis amidst the farmland of southeastern Minnesota

We had spent a couple of days hiking, relaxing and me flyfishing in this beautiful place. I was busy grilling up the burgers that evening. Mrs T was reading comfortably in the camp chair some distance away. She was wearing a white blouse with colorful flower prints. That's important! Suddenly, agitated, her arms were swinging wildly. Thinking, perhaps, a few marauding mosquitoes, I hollered "what's the matter." "He's attacking me," was the reply. Rushing over, I found a nearsighted hummingbird going for the gold. "It's a hummingbird who thinks your a petunia," I counseled sympathetically. Finally, the misguided bird buzzed off and peace returned to the Valley.

More recently we were sitting on the front porch reading the paper and watching our neighbors across the road - the goats. Mrs T began showing that agitated look.

Another visitor had appeared above us. At 1/8 ounce he still appeared aggressive. I gave him a no nonsense warning. He backed off.
"Don't worry dear I'm here to protect you," I volunteered. That's right. I da man.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Day Of The Orioles - A Troutbirder Mystery

I was a rookie birder, a few springs ago, pretty raw actually. Didn't really know which way to go.

The idea was to eyeball some of the Baltimore gang in my backyard. You know. The kind that fly. I wanted to keep tabs on them. That's my job see.

Then I caught a lucky break. Some guy told me they were attracted to orange slices and grape jelly. Go figure. I tried it. The oranges that is. Would you believe it , no sooner than I went into the house for my morning joe, and came back out on the deck, there they were. Ten minutes flat. Over the next few days several more of the gang showed up. I thought I had them cold. Wrong! Just like that they all went on the lam. Maybe north of the border?
Well, the next  spring I was determined to try again. Maybe add some grape jelly. I thought at first they had sent a scout ahead. One of the gang showed up in the middle of a spring snowstorm right outside  my window . And again disappeared.

 A week latter another colorful visitor showed up. No luck there either. It turned out to be a member of the summer tanager gang. They come from down south someplace. They were clean. I waited and waited. Nothing. Funny thing though. The oranges kept disappearing. And the Baltimores were nowhere to be seen. I finally set up an early morning surveillance. Turned out to be squirrels. No respect for law and order, I guess.

I'm not one to give up a case easily but  and still not a sign. Lily, Mrs. T.  and I needed a break and I figured if anyone could sniff out the suspects Lily could. A hike in the country seemed like a good idea. We headed off....

From the pond we headed up a trail into the woods. Soon the path was lined by some huge cottonwoods. When I looked up to see how tall they were... that's when I noticed them. The Baltimore gangs hideout. I counted at least ten scattering in all directions. I thought I heard one squeek "we're busted."

Well that's the story folks. They call it the Goethite Wildlife Management Area. Coulda fooled me. I can see these Baltimores, being from a big city, as being used to wildlife. But being managed? Not a chance. I know I couldn't control them.

btw - On the way back to the big city I caught sight of a related gang member - an Orchard Oriole. But that's another story.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Swimming Lessons: Then and Now

He wasn't quite a year old that spring.  My first ever GSD Baron would have nothing to do with the water. This came as something of a shock to me as my previous three dogs, a Golden-Lab mix and two Chesapeakes, could hardly be kept out of it. At a local trout stream the water was apparently too cold and fast moving for Baron. A local pond had high banks and a muddy bottom. He didn't even go near it. Then finally, we went on a hike at a nearby state park. The park seemed abandoned in the spring with nary a person in sight. On the well groomed and sandy "no dogs allowed" beach Baron discovered a stick.

He decided to attack it!

Then I threw it in the water and he chased after it. Voila! He was swimming. Queen B looked astonished and then worried . I reassured her by mentioning that he was born knowing a basic swimming stroke. The "dog paddle."

"You think Michael Phelps is good? Well look at me," says Baron. 

Well now I have a new challenge. Lily our six year old (according to her vet) rescue female GSD. She doesn't play with toys, won't fetch, chew on bones and of course go near the water. Nada.  She is extremely needy, devoted, loving, friendly to strangers   and will attack any other dog on first sight. I'm working on that problem and also intend to begin swimming lessons soon.  Many friends have assured me "you can't teach an old dog new tricks.  Well, I've learned a few new ones in recent years and I hope Lily can do the same...:)

Me and Miss Lily last winter in Florida. She wanted no part of it. In any case, Mrs. T was worried about lurking alligators. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

First Selfie

So there we were taking an April woodsy walk thru gorgeous Forestville State Park. I had my two girls with me, Mrs. T. and Miss Lily.  We were checking out  woodland wildflowers along some cliffs and a trout stream in southeastern Minnesota.

It was somewhere around this point that I decided to try the latest photographic rage inspired no doubt by millions of Facebook devotes........ a selfie. Yes, hold the camera out, find the shutter and.... Good Grief, your supposed to look at the camera when you push the button dummy. Modern technology I don't know. :)


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

And Who Is This Young Lady? Part II

Her name was P.D. James and she wrote the best crime mysteries ever....
Click on Mark Twain and me above to go to my book review blog Troutbirder II and find out more. :)

Friday, May 8, 2015

RBG Bonanza

Sometimes change can be upsetting. Then again it can bring great rewards. Old friends disappear from our lives.  New ones appears out of the blue. Twelve years ago, we built a new house some 200 yards to the north, in our woods. I put up several platform and hanging feeders in the backyard. New friends the Indigo Buntings now stop by.

An eastern screech owl took up residence in an old wood duck house.

For the first time, a bluebird pair nested along the cornfield. And first ever tufted titmice showed up regularly while a summer tanager made an unprecedented visit this spring.
Even a bald eagle landed near our property line in March  to look over my backyard.

On the other hand some old friends were definitely missing. No longer would I see the red headed woodpeckers chase the squirrels away from the feeder. Its been years since I have heard the song of the eastern meadowlark. Purple martins are not to be seen circling above the yard in the spring. Worst of all, there were no rose breasted grosbeaks downing their daily ration of sunflowers seeds.
Till this week. Looking up from the book I was reading in my easy chair, I noticed movement in the backyard. To my utter surprise, the platform  feeder had four rose breasted grosbeaks aboard. In addition, their were several clinging to the hanging feeders as well as on the ground. It was a RBG bonanza!

Of course, they ate their fill and moved on north the next day. Still two have remained behind. They stop by regularly and may be nesting in the woods close by. Perhaps a new generation of these beautiful birds will adopt this place as their home. I surely hope so. Good to see you again my old friends.  :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Who Is This Young Lady?

Her name is S.M. Hulse and she wrote the best debut novel I've read in a long time.
Check out my review on Troutbirder II by clicking on the picture of Mark Twain and me above.....

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Rag Rug

It was just a small faded looking thing which turned up when Mrs. T. was sorting through closets to take stuff to the Goodwill.   But oh the memories that  came with it....
Back in the day when I was a child (actually the forties) our extended family saved things.  Things like grease for making soap, clothing for quilts, and animal parts for God knows what, with names like "blood sausage & head cheese."   Then there was the "rag bag" for taking rags to my Dad's Aunt Martha in Green Isle, Minnesota.  She had a large loom with pedals and bobbins.   For making "rag rugs." Here is mine.
Well used you might say. And it was as the name tags on the end that tell the story.
All day every day kindergarten required nap time on the floor of the classroom in those days, so a rug was naturally needed. Thus mine was used and passed on to my siblings and later a son. 
Raymond 1946
Gregory 1952
John 1954
Ted 1976 our eldest son
Tony our youngest  didn't require the services of the "rag rug" because our local school district switched to half day kindergarten. 
Nope this relic won't be going to the Goodwill any time soon!!!