Troutbirder II

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

Monday, August 31, 2015

Two Prairies

I have mostly shady gardens now that we built a new house in the woods on "Oak Hill." I love our native prairies though and visit them often. Two of my favorites are Hayden Prairie in Iowa and and my friend Gary's restored prairie near Forestville State Park here in southeastern Minnesota.
He bought a 30+ acre farmstead which partially consisted of some untillable land covered by burdock and other weeds. An acre at a time, he has begun to remove the weeds and restore the land to natural prairie. In each season the prairie now does it's thing with native grasses and flowers adding color to the landscape. Late summer and fall it is at its peak although spring and early summer have their moments as well. Here is what I saw the last week in July several years ago.

The cup plant is one of many types of sunflowers found here. Several grow six feet or taller. It holds rainwater in the small "cup" formed by the intersection of it's basal leaves. A little water might come in handy...

The compass plant is another member of the sunflower family. It's unusual name derives from the fact that it bottom leaves orient themselves in a north south direction. Get lost on the prairie and you've got help!

With Bergamont (Monarda) everywhere one is sure to see many butterflies. As with many wildflowers, domesticated and hybridized descendents can be found in many gardens, but the native plants have their special charm.

Grasses bind things together with Blue Stem reminding us of the tall grass prairie that flourished here before the arrival of the plow.
Hayden Prairie is located in northeastern Iowa about 5 miles due east of Lime Springs. It has reportedly never been plowed. Consisting of over 300 acres, it is a place where one can wander about almost sure to find some interesting surprises.

Hayden Prairie near Chester Iowa on the Minnesota - Iowa border/

Blazing Star

Canada Tick Trefoil


Rattlesnake Master

Swamp Milkweed

Common Yellowthroat  Warbler

Mrs. T. - The Wildflower Paparazzi.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Tough Owling

As a  birder, I always  have a tough time spotting and photographing owls. Now, surely, I don't expect to see a river of them flying by, as in this shot of snow geese passing over the freeway in Nebraska. Nor as easy to spot as this screech owl was. It took up residence in a wood duck house that I put up in my woods. But it's tough to get a shot.
Very rarely, I might see a Great Horned in the woods. I never see them before they fly off though and disappear quickly through the trees. Again rarely, I might hear a Barred Owl calling at night in my woods. "Who cooks for me? Who cooks for me?" That's it. A distant call in the night. Otherwise zilch.

Now the highly respected DNR (Department of Natural Resources) here in Minnesota has apparently made it even more difficult. I came upon this sign last summer while troutfishing in Beaver Creek State Park.

So now the owls aren't allowed to hoot and photograpers can't shoot in our local state parks?
Mmmm. Or maybe I missed something here?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A new book review

A novel of the first dog. Check out my review by clicking on Mark Twains and me above.  It's a great story.....

Saturday, August 22, 2015

It Could Have Been A Lot Worse (update from 2008)

So there  are  Baron and myself at a happier moment sitting among the wild geraniums in the spring of 2008. A few weeks before this photo the big guy  and I crashed and burned as I was racing downhill on my bike and he decided to catch a rabbit that had cut in front of me on the road. Over the handlebars I went onto the blacktop after slamming one the brakes and crashing into Baron. He kept going after the bunnies and was a little late in coming back to see if I survived.  Lassie he was not.  A visit to Urgent Care in Rochester showed that I had nothing broken to go along with my head gash, scrapped arm, sore neck,  sprained shoulder, hip pointer and bruised left leg. Reading Boulder Colorado's newpaper this morning I decided it could have been a lot worse.......

Colorado bicyclist took a tumble Tuesday after colliding with a black bear.
Tim Egan was training for the upcoming Triple Bypass Bike Race when the bear darted out in front of him on a country road near Boulder.
Egan and his nephew estimate they were traveling at about 45 miles per hour on the hill just west of Boulder when the collision occurred.
Neither one could believe what happened.
"I saw a blur and thought to myself, 'Big dog.' Then just as I was hitting it, I saw this gigantic bear head with huge teeth. He was surprised to see me and I was surprised to see him. It was almost like a cartoon when we collided," Egan said.
Egan and his bike were thrown through the air.
Egan's breath was knocked out and he was afraid he'd broken his back.
He couldn't move for several minutes.
His nephew pulled up on the scene just seconds later and told him the bear was still there.
"I remember thinking to myself, 'I'm alive, but the bear's here. Oh, this is bad,'" Egan said. "I mean, this bear was as high as my waist. He was extremely well-fed and a big guy. And he wasn't happy. He looked at me and he opened his mouth."
Eventually the bear sauntered off into the woods, apparently uninjured.
Egan, though, was bleeding profusely and his bike was bent.
He and his nephew got it straightened out and rode to Boulder Community Hospital.

And so now eight years later it's been time to pay the piper.  A benign head tremor and "calming" pills the calmed me so well I had a of number vertigo episodes,  an undiagnosed, at the time of injury,  broken collarbone, traction on the neck a.k.a. they strap your head to a machine and try to pull it off., too many shoulder x-rays and MRI's to count and now finally shoulder surgery to relieve or fix two paragraphs worth of  abnormal , torn  arthritic, not normal, spurring, diffuse shoulder, parts most of which I've never heard of before.
Maybe I was wrong those many years ago.  Running into a three hundred pound bear might not necessarily have been worse.
 Me, my bike, my sling and Miss Lily discussing why biking together is no longer an option.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A New Book Review On Troutbirder II

Go to book Review by clicking on Mark Twain above...

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fort Wilkins Historic State Park


As part of our recent trip to Copper Harbor and Isle Royale National Park we also took in the Fort Wilkins Historic Complex, adjacent of Copper Harbor itself.  Fort Wilkins was once an active U.S. Army post built to keep the peace in Michigan’s Copper Country Begun in 1844 and abandoned just two years later the fort was briefly regarrisoned in the late 1860’s. It is a well-preserved example of mid-19th century ar4my life on the norther frontier. The park also includes the Copper harbor Lighthouse Complex with a restored 1848 lightkeeper’s dwelling, 1866 lighthouse and interpretive trails. 

And lunch fixed by our genial host John Grabko of Heartland Tours....

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Please Keep Off The Grass

Hold it! This is not a rant on the Minnesota Legislatures recent legalization of medical marijuana. While the  nation clearly faces many serious problems, judging by the number of ignored signs I have seen warning people not to tramp on lawns, thereby damaging the grass,  that issue is clearly one of them. Most of these courteous warning signs appear to be totally in vain. Based on personal observation, one state has definitely gone a long way toward solving this serious problem.

Typical ineffective signs:

Based upon numerous recent observations, it appears that Montana does have a sign that gets peoples attention.

Why even Mrs. Troutbirder stayed on the sidewalk!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

West of the Lake Gardens

Located in Manitowoc Wisconsin this 6-acre estate of the late Ruth and John West was created in 1934 and features a rose garden, Japanese, sunken and formal gardens, with more than 900 feet of herbaceous borders with colorful annuals.  The gardens are located along Lake Michigan's shoreline and the new Mariners Trail.  Ideal photo opportunities!  Free.
Mrs. T and I took advantage of the opportunity to visit these gorgeous gardens during our recent visit to a  friend  of ours now living in Packerland. After a great time sightseeing and catching up, we even found time on the way home to visit the Necedah National Wildlife refuge in Wisconsin.
Kerry & Barb
Photography mostly by Mrs. T.
 A quick stop on  ride home  on some back roads thru the Necedah N.W. R. where we saw three flocks of pelicans, some cormorants, some great egrets at a distance.... wait a minute I'm not sure......
Stop the car. My binocs.  They're whooping cranes.   Oh my......:)

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....!