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March 31, 2008

My buddy Rocky the Redtail Boa Constrictor chillin' in the crib at Wood Lake. I usually catch him looking outside, but we got dumped on with about 7 inches of snow today and I think he, like many others I've heard today, is loosing patience for a Spring that seems to be coming at a glacier pace. Oh well, there's always the heat-lamp.The said 7 + inches: sticky, slushy, and extremely mushy. Teamed with a 31 mph wind, it was like having little cream pies blowing into your face. Phwap!

March 30, 2008

"Bankin' off of the Northeast wind, sailin' on a summer breeze..."

G-force testing at Springbrook Proving Grounds:

"Phone's for you."

Hey, thing's are lookin' up.

March 30, 2008

I took the little camera out after work today and ended up making a case study of some local trees and fungus. Here we have that sort of wavy "lasagna" type of fungus that hangs from tree branches. Amazing stuff when you get close to it. I have seen it glow under ultraviolet light. A lichenologist told me that there are some Arctic lichens that have been dated as being over 4000 years old. Moss or bacteria? Particle or wave? This next one are the bracket or "shelf" fungi found on many of our local trees. They have cool rings with subtle color changes. Mood rings?
And here we are back at my new favorite tree, the River Birch. It's just so weird to look up the trunk and see this multi- colored and textured collection of peeled, peeling, and attached bark in different shapes and layers. The tree that makes it's own paper-mache. It's a party waiting to happen!

March 29, 2008

And the birds just keep on comin'! After a visit to the somewhat stinky Bass Ponds (the water was being kept low) we saw our first Northern Shovelers of the year, with their very DustBuster-like bills. Sharon also saw what she thought was a river otter, but I missed it. Bigger than a mink or muskrat, and smaller than a beaver she said...
There was some evidence of beaver, such as this over-ambitious fellow:
The Scaup (a.k.a. "bluebills") were plentiful, but shy.
And of course the the ubiquitous coot troop...

March 28, 2008

Another day for the birds. It's warming up, and the bird activity is directly proportional to the rise in temp. I try to identify as many as I can from sounds, and I can't get them all but I can definitely tell when something new has moved into the neighborhood.
Young mister Cardinal is trying to finish off the red of his juvenile plumage by eating sumac buds. Hmmm, I'm not sure if that works or not...
All are chirping and this sparrow was no exception. Good thing because it was so buried in the dogwood I would have never found it otherwise.
A pensive junco. I seem to be having a hard time getting a stellar shot of the juncos, even tho there are plenty. They don't stay in one place for long.
Phenology is the study of the response of living organisms to seasonal and climatic changes to the environment in which they live. And here's the documentation. The RRBB's (Red-Winged Black Birds) are back along the creek! Our notorious "telephone bird" is a sure sign of spring. This guy looks like he suited up in his Darth Vader cloak for the show, with strapping blaze orange escutcheons.

March 27, 2008

I hiked the Adams Elementary School Nature Trail where I'll be teaching earth science curriculum to K - 5er's next week. It's a beautiful wooded trail that has a very twisty oxbow creek, and borders the Mississippi on one side.
The bird activity today was plentiful. Besides the chicadees, numerous types of woodpeckers, juncos, robins, crows and heron, the Mergansers were practicing their Jesus Lizard take-offs from the river:
Man, can they book. They are really moving when they're still ON the water, but when they pull up and take in the landing gear, it's like a jet taking off. Their wingbeats are at such a high rate, it's incredible.
The Scaup on the other hand take a more measured and reserved approach:
One of my favorites, the white-breasted nuthatch in a familiar pose.
They like to show off their talons by walking DOWN the tree:
And there's the tasty little grub that makes it all worthwhile. It's Larvae Time.

Who's that traitor at the door?

Here's an interesting etymological tidbit I stumbled across today.
You've heard of "Lost in the translation," what about when meaning is "gained in the translation?"
My peephole "door viewer" is "The portal of Judas." At first I thought it was Spanish, but it is actually French, and in French "judas" means both "spyhole" and "traitor." I love this stuff.

March 26, 2008

" Thank you, Houston, the USS Wood Duck
is glad to be back in the water. Over."
Leaves of Ice. Walt Whitman's non-seller.
He's back, and he's pumped-up like an '80's Reebok.
Hunh, wha? Yeah, stupid Wood Ducks. Whatever.

March 25, 2008

The Fighting Frog of Hennepin County
You'd be frowning too if you had no hands and a sprinkler pointed up your butt for eternity.
Nice Mohawk, Dude!
Or is it a mullet...?

March 24, 2008

All sorts of animals active at the Lagoon this morning. Happy and I were on dawn patrol and it was great to see the morning light. Completely different than the later day stuff I've gotten too used to.
Shar & I saw this feral cat on Saturday hop down a woodchuck hole like she owned the place. Now her tracks are all over the trails and she has moved in. I fear for the songbirds. I think she could drop them with her laser-beam stare alone.
Speaking of, here's young Master Cardinale, sitting pretty. Lots of singing back and forth these mornings. NOTE IT: Also heard my first RWBB (Red-winged blackbird) doing it's telephone impression this morning. That is a sure sign of spring around these digs.
Then there's these guys doing their bookends thing. They are both Great Blue Heron, but the morning sun is giving the front guy a little tan. I hope his legs are not frozen in the creek. If he is, he didn't seem too worried about it.
Kinda "saw" this concept shot (rare for me) of the sun coming up behind the Longfellow Pergola (sorry, it's not Stonehenge) lighting up the frost on the bergamot. Won't be long until we're helping plant this years colors. Can't wait to see how "Sister Teresa," Master Gardener, has it laid out this year. Bring on the hummingbirds. Oops, getting a little ahead of myself.

March 23, 2008

Today was DigitalNature Hike Day at the Bass Ponds, and the topic: Tripods & Panoramas. Off we head down the trail, fully laiden. Well, most of us. What you can't see is just off camera, our neighbor Morgan straining to pull his sled full of my tripods, gear bag, etc. Pro photographers have an adage, "Buy the biggest tripod your friend can carry."
The day did not disappoint, either. Along Long Meadow Lake we came upon a communal animal scene with a small herd of whitetail deer, plenty of mallards, a few coots, a wayward gull, and a killdeer.
The killdeer didn't seem too interested in the deer, or us either for that matter. He seemed a little forlorn. I think he is hoping to see some sandy beaches there soon.
Then it was back to the hood to get the pup out for his walk before the sun dropped down. Nice colors from the creek bridge looking west. Red skies at night, Sailor's delight. NOAA figured they'd hang out a carrot for us saying we might see 50 degrees over the next few days. Man, I was just gettin' used to this new snow. How am I going to move my sled full of gear?

March 22, 2008

Now I know where KISS got their makeup inspiration.

There he is in all his full-profile glory: Mister Wood Duck. Why am I reminded of Artie Johnson saying, "Verrrrrly interrrrressstink..."

And here's the little misses, preparing to sing Wagner.

March 22, 2008

The plucky little squirrel looking a bit guilty at getting caught in the duck box digs in and is ready for launch.

Here, Morgan is attempting to prove the Law of Inertia: objects in forward motion tend to stay in forward motion, while objects at rest tend to remain there.
Hey, there's my new favorite tree again, the River Birch, making some nice fresh birchsicles.

March 21, 2008

Ahh Spring, and another page slips off the calendar...

Wait a minute, yesterday was the Veral Equinox, the First Day Of Spring, and here we are today with six inches of snow! I can hear Punxsutawney Phil chuckling his little woodchuck chuckle all the way from Gobbler's Knob. (Which is very fun to say by the way, let's all say it now, "Gobbler's Knob." Hey, that was good.) Hey wait tho, he saw his shadow and it's SIX MORE WEEKS of winter... That was February 2nd, and with leap year that's 27 days plus 20 days in March is 47 days. Hey! Six weeks is 42 days! Aww man! We always get the shaft in Minnesota. Stupid Vikings can't win the Super Bowl. Hockey Team goes to Dallas of all places, that's insulting. Twins trade away all our good guys. Camp Snoopy closes. (Whacking forehead with palm of hand) Oh, the humanity. A pox on you Pux.
Okay well it is "pretty." And it's a lot cleaner than the crud that was left after the first melt, I gotta tellya. Not pretty, not pretty. All those crud layers compacted into quasi-dimensional super crud. That's why we all need to pick up our own poop, people. A Public Service Announcement. Tho it looks like these tiny people are doing the funny walk, they are actually cross-country skiing over the bridge. Kind of a Robert Crumb sort of thing. Hup!
The Falls are back in a big way and that graffitti is down around Missoura.
I never was too sure about this sculpture, but it was showing a lot of emotion today.

March 21, 2008

What a difference a week makes - you may remember this bridge from such blog posts as March 11th. Mmm, or you may not.
Keep your nose up Stryker, you're too low!

Bench-clearing brawl.