Troutbirder II

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

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Pelican Island

 A few years back and our first trip to Florida, we were visiting Barb's  first cousin Joe and his wife Mary.   They were taking us to see Pelican Island.  Much further back yet, at the turn of the 19th century, the passenger pigeon, the Carolina parakeet, the American bison, 80% of Floridas birdlife and a series of other birds and mammals had all but disappeared. They were slaughtered in an orgy of greed, profiteering and carelessness. The wonderful wading birds of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts had become the staple for women's fashionable hats. There was only one place, on the Atlantic coast, a tiny 5.5 acre island named after the birds, where a small flock of Brown Pelicans survived. And it went on and on. Till some true American heroes stepped forward and took action. Tormented by the slaughter, a German immigrant, named Paul Kroegel eventually made heroic attempts to ward off feather hunters from Pelican Island with his own 10-gauge shotgun. Kroegel's bravery and dedication received the attention of President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt, one of my personal heroes, established Pelican Island in 1903 as a "preserve and breeding ground for native birds" and appointed Kroegel as the first Refuge Manager. It was the beginning of the conservation movement and the start of the National Wildlife Refuges. Today, they are the largest system of lands for wildlife in the world.
With Joe, our genial host driving, we headed off to the barrier islands, which encompass Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge. Small Pelican Island itself stands alone and protected amidst the refuge itself. It proved to be a fun day.

A sign and a Kestral welcomed us. We had a picnic lunch overlooking a small marsh and then took a hike to look for birds.....

An anhinga watches over the scene.
                                          And a Red Shouldered Hawk watches the scene
The namesake of the refuge, the brown pelican, reflects on the more secure days as he and his comrades now enjoy in this beautiful place.

The refuge islands lie off the coast of Sebastian, Florida and the Indian River Estuary. If you click on the picture you can see the town in the distance. The Audobon Society and concerned citizens had to fight in the 60's to prevent "development" from once again destroying the barrier island chain.


Later, Barb and Joe keep an eye out while "Chicken" Troutbirder, cautious of Atlantic rip tides, goes ankle deep.

Friday, January 26, 2018

A Time In Between

It was mid November. The land was quiet waiting for winter. The campground was closed till spring. The Park Rangers and campers and tourists were nowhere to be seen. The lake had a thin layer of ice now and the beach lay silent, neatly raked and smooth. The horse trails were empty and there was no need to keep Baron close and tightly leashed. He could romp and race following his nose wherever it led.          Over a century and a half  Minnesotas tall grass prairies and wetlands had largely disappeared. . Except for in a few special places like this. I was in Lake Louise State Park where the woods and wetlands and even the prairie still remained for a man and his faithful dog to take a hike. There was not an animal to be seen that day. Perhaps most of the birds were long gone to warmer climes. The feeling was almost spectral. And yet, it was beautiful in its own special way. A break between the prairie colors of fall and winter on its way. Baron wants to run but I'll walk slowly. He always checks to see that I'm not too far behind..

An Indian Summer Day On The Prairie
The sun is a huntress young, The sun is a red, red joy, The sun is an indian girl, Of the tribe of the Illinois.

MID-MORNING) The sun is a smouldering fire, That creeps through the high gray plain,And leaves not a bush of cloud To blossom with flowers of rain.
(NOON) The sun is a wounded deer, That treads pale grass in the skies, Shaking his golden horns, Flashing his baleful eyes.
SUNSET)The sun is an eagle old, There in the windless west. Atop of the spirit-cliffs He builds him a crimson nest.
Vachel Lindsay

Hey Boss! They locked up the bathroom for the winter. Now what are you going to do?  We'll head home, Baron. Winter is coming.....



Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Southeastern Minnesota Weather Report.

Less than an hour to our west  Owatonna, Minnesota got 17 inches of snow.  We started with rain yesterday, which began freezing, then sleet and last night snow. It added up to less than 17 inches of snow but now we're heading back to sub zero temps and I just finished my driveway as a trip into town is necessary *if possible) to pick up some meds.........

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Post

Click on Mark Twain above for my review.  Of course, Meryl Streep is not "overrated.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Eagles and Ospreys: Part III

And now the exciting conclusion of my series titled Birds of a Feather. So far we have covered the origins of my blog name Troutbirder and  musing  the propriety of naming the Bald Eagle as our national bird, according to Ben Franklin and myself.  Now we shall explore the frontiers of  Eagle and Osprey interaction as discovered my friend Mr. Science (Gary).
Eagles On Attack:
Along and near the Father of Waters, the mighty river dividing Minnesota and Wisconsin, the Bald Eagle now makes its home in large numbers year around. Some them move south during the winter while new arrivals in large numbers come south from Canada to winter in "tropical" southeastern Minnesota.  . Hundreds of bald eagles prefer to overwinter in the Red Wing and Wabasha areas near the Mississippi River, where the current of the inflowing Chippewa River maintains open water throughout the winter.
   Recently, friends Gary and Bobbie photographed an unusual sight  in the backwaters of the Big River near the Iowa border. Take a look....
At some distance several eagles were chasing an osprey. As I pointed out in a previous  post these attacks often involve forcing the osprey to drop its catch .... the fish. Outright thievery as I described it. As the above picture shows, two mature and one immature eagles are involved.  A flock of mallards flees the ruckus.  According to the photographer the immature eagle actually struck the osprey although the photograph is unclear whether it used its talons.
The second photo shows the osprey clearly escaped to land in a nearby tree. Five eagles landed above on the same tree and several others in adjacent trees. Unfortunately, I can't relate the final outcome of this very rare misadventure as Bobbi had noted a seriously low tire on their car and they had to hurry off to the nearest town for a repair.
Finally, and in the interest of complete disclosure, while my bias in favor of the hard working osprey has no doubt been noted, the better half of  the Troutbirder family, Mrs. T. stands firmly next to and behind her favorite raptor, Angel the American Bald Eagle and Ambassador of her species at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota......:)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Birds of a Feather-----Not!

One of our Founding Fathers, who's  inventive mind was always at work,  questioned  choice of the Bald Eagle as  our national symbol.
A year and a half after the Great Seal was adopted by Congress on June 20, 1782  – with the eagle as its centerpiece – Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to his daughter and shared some thoughts about this new symbol of America. He did not express these personal musings elsewhere, but they have become legendary.
Franklin thought the eagle on the original looked more like a turkey. Writing  from France on January 26, 1784 to his daughter Sally (Mrs. Sarah Bache) in Philadelphia, Franklin casts doubt on the propriety of using the Bald Eagle to symbolize the "brave and honest Cincinnati of America," a newly formed society of revolutionary war officers.

The society's insignia had a poorly drawn eagle that looked more like a turkey, which prompted Franklin's naturally inquisitive mind to compare and contrast the two birds as a symbol for the United States.

Franklin's Letter to His Daughter where he compares the Bald Eagle and the Turkey (excerpt)
"For my part I wish the Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our country.  The Eagle is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk (Osprey); and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

"With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country . . .

"I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on."
Well, Franklin's point is well taken, especially in regard  to the eagles right wingnut behavior visa vie the hardworking blue collar Osprey.  Still, as you can see in the photograph below, I remain somewhat a  fan of our  handsome looking National Symbol.....:) Yet as less that 1% of the total American bird population, I  just hope he doesn't emulate his human one per centers and stash his ill gotten booty in foreign banks where he doesn't pay taxes on it unlike the rest of us turkeys and hard working middle class ospreys...


Monday, January 8, 2018

The Osprey

She is osprey a.k.a. "The Fish Hawk. She ranges over much of North America, wherever lakes and river are to be found. About 3/4 the size of Bald Eagle, her rival and competitor, she out fishes him and does not emulate his willingness to scavenge and steal.
When I was starting up my blog in 2008, I came across this picture. It gave me the idea I needed for naming my blog. I saw my favorite hobby, flyfishing for trout and my newest one, birding..... thus troutbirder.
She is not very common here on the plains of southern Minnesota nor in the hills and valleys where I live in the southeast corner of the state. The so called "Bluff Country." She can be found amidst the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes and rivers to the north of us. I saw many many of her kind in Florida where she both winters and resides year around. Take a look at this magnificent and amazing raptor in action........
I intend to publish  additional posts on the interaction between Ospreys and Eagles, Stay Tuned.

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Crusades

As the semi-civilized heirs of the Roman Empire fought religious war to expel the Muslims from the "Holy Land," today for some, all Muslims, American citizens and round the world, are perceived as terrorists or as the Chinese built a wall to keep out the foreign "barbarians" today Mexican "rapists" perhaps necessitate a similar wall.  Foreign allies can't be trusted and enemies can be bought and trusted.  It's all here in The Crusades as the culmination of Europe's Dark Ages. My review can be found on Troutbirder II.  Click on me and Mark Twain above...:)