Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My Kool Kids

Last Sunday our kids' school had an open house to celebrate Catholic Schools Week. Being in 7th and 8th grades they each had to do a huge project and paper to be displayed at school. John, the 7th grader did his science project titled "Do Parabolas Affect Wireless Signals?". He built a parabola using a bendable ruler covered with smooth foil and string to bend the ruler. He moved the parabola a progression of distances from the wireless antenna and used his PSP to measure the signal strength. John did a terrific job on his experiment, poster board and paper!

Molly's 8th grade social studies project was on Germany. She also did a poster board and an extensive paper on Germany- it's history, culture, economy, industry, architecture and language. She worked so hard on her paper. I am so very proud of them both. Molly goes off to public high school next year, and John the year after that. They are both well-prepared and I am so excited to see where their futures take them.

I don't have any bird pictures to post, but here is Buddy, the amazing rabbit, balancing an empty pop bottle on his back! Doesn't he look happy? (NOOO!) And here's another shot of Buddy after we trimmed his claws. Really- if he had opposable thumbs we'd all be dead, or at least maimed!

I hit the Gander Mountain clearance sale this morning. I bought some cold weather outdoor gear for my next birding trip coming up February 10th. This trip I hope to be a bit warmer than the Duluth Audubon trip in January. I had to get one of those silly Nordic looking hats with ear flaps with strings on them. Don't expect a picture of that!

Monday, January 29, 2007


It's late- turn off the lights.
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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Party at the Suet Log!

The birds must have known a cold snap was coming because it was standing room only at the suet log for the last few days.

As one left, another took its place.

Mrs. Red-belly shoos everyone away when she shows up.

Could this little house finch puff up any fluffier? The wind is howling. I hope the birds find a spot to stay warm.
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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I and the Bird #41

Check out the newest I and the Bird #41 hosted by A Snail's Eye View. There are fun stories told and naturally lessons to be learned.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Just This and That

There's not much new around my neck of the woods. I just finished my stretch of nights over the weekend, and as usual, I'm limp. I know there are lots of people that work nights with no problem but I'm thinking that I'm just too old for this. It didn't wipe me out so badly in my younger days. (I'll be getting my AARP card in the mail this year!)

I found some open water on the lake at a local county park and thought I'd see what I could see. Mallards, mallards and more mallards. These four had just hopped out of the water and were preening on the ice. Brrrr.

Couldn't help taking a duck butt shot. They always make me laugh.

Here's one of the MANY squirrels that make my back yard home. He was really giving me a scolding. I like how they tuck their front paws into their tummy fur when it's really cold outside.

Here's a little splash of color taken a few weeks ago before the snow. You can see the damage the squirrels did to the bottom of this feeder. I repair it periodically though because it's a favorite feeder of my bird friends.
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Monday, January 15, 2007

Birding With the Duluth Audubon Society

It was an awesome day. It started out cold, 4 degrees above in Duluth but MINUS 4 in Floodwood, the town a few miles from where we started birding. The temps stayed low but my spirits were high. Mike our guide from Duluth was terrific. He knows his birds and he knows where the birds are in this area. Laura Erickson from Birderblog was there too. She was very generous with her vast knowlegde of birds and digiscoping. I thank them both. There were 27 of us in 6 or 7 cars- quite the caravan. We started out in an area called Hedbom Road, a looging road through a large tamarac and black spruce bog.
It didn't take long for Mike to find my first lifer of the day- a black-backed woodpecker!! Our first boreal species. The picture is pretty fuzzy, but if you click on it to enlarge it you can see the yellow cap telling us that this is a male. The rusty area on the trunk shows where the bird had scaled the bark looking for insects below it. We saw this bird from the road.

Life bird number two! An American three-toed woodpecker! It was a bit of a trudge into the pines to see this bird but it allowed us to get quite close and totally ignored us. You can see that this woodpecker has clearly a ladder back. What you can't see here is his smudgy yellow cap indicating that this also is a male. Both of these woodpeckers scale bark off of conifers instead of drilling. During our time at Hedblom a flock of pine siskins (life bird number 3!!) and a flock of common redpolls flew in and out again. I didn't get a good enough look at the repolls though so I'm not counting them. Rats! Time to move off to the Sax-Zim bog.
Not long after we got there Mike did a little pishing and out flew a pair of boreal chickadees! Life bird number 4!!! They were mixed in with a flock of black capped chickadees so I got to hear both songs. What a cool chance to compare the similar songs of the two chickadee species. While we were listening to the chickadees this beauty flew in- Life bird number 5!!! A female white-winged crossbill! She perched at the tip of this spruce and sang her heart out. Beautiful songster! Driving out of the Sax-Zim we stopped at a residence with a feeder and saw a lone evening grosbeak- life bird number 6!!
We headed back toward Duluth, stopping at an area with known sightings of a northern hawk owl. It didn't take Mike long to find it hunting a field behind a coffee shop on a busy highway! It seemed strange to find this rare sighting in such a location but it was actively and successfully hunting that field.
As we watched, it flew down and nabbed a vole. Everyone gasped as it was such a treat to see this magnificent owl catch and eat it's prey. The picture above is right before it launched itself after the vole. Mmm...nice tastey vole!
With a head-
and without a head!
Within seconds the whole vole was eaten.

After the thrill of the northern hawk owl we drove back into Duluth to Canal Park to check out the water birds. There were lots of herring gulls (yawn) but no unsusal gull species hanging with them.
We did see quite a few common goldeneyes though- life bird number 7!! Floating in among them was a pair of harlequin ducks- life bird number 8!! I never would have been able to pick them out of the bunch without the use of a spotting scope.
Can you see it? On top of the bundles of re-bar, stacked like Lincoln logs. Down in an industrial area of the harbor, with freeways on two sides. My life bird number 9!!

Seeing this bird is my most thrilling experience birding. Ever. Period.

I cried.

I'm not sure if the others in the group new what to do with me. We watched this owl for quite some time. I was told it was a young male. He flew from spot to spot. At one point he flew after a red tailed hawk, dive-bombing to chase it off the territory he wanted to hunt. It was a beautiful thing to watch this owl fly at dusk. The big Sibley book gives it a 52 inch wing span, the same as a great gray owl. Beautiful flight.

What a way to end a perfect day of birding.

So many life birds!!

And a snowy owl made 9.

Please look at Laura Erickson's Laura's Birding Blog and scroll down to her report of this field trip and check out her fild trip gallery too. Her digiscoped photos are terrific. And you can even play "Where's Waldo" and see if you can find me among her pictures!

hint: I look a bit like a weeble wearing a parka :)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Two Things Meme

I got this from Laura at Natural Notes 3

2 names you go by: Lynne (sometimes LyndieLou) and Mom

2 parts of your heritage: Norwegian and French

2 things that scare you: steps that you can see through and fire towers (I have to sit down just to look up at a fire tower!)

2 everyday essentials: coffee and books

2 things you are wearing right now: jeans and a turtleneck with chickadees on it

2 of your favorite current bands/artists: Josh Groban and Nickel Creek. This was the hardest question to keep to 2 answers.

2 things you want in a relationship (other than love): humor and acceptance

2 favorite hobbies: birding and collecting old or unusual rosaries

2 things you have to do this week: box up give-away stuff for the charity pick-up and never ending laundry!

2 stores you shop at: Kohl's and Target

2 favorite sports: to watch- I love Vikings football even when they have a crummy season (again!) and any game my kids play. To do- walking is it for me!

2 show you like to watch: Law and Order (any variety, SVU,CI or plain!) and American Idol

2 things you'd buy if money were no object: I buy as much of the land surrounding Hasty Brook as I could get my hands on and a new car

2 wishes for 2007: health for my family and for myself, and to see a snowy owl!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A New Regular Visitor

I have a new daily visitor at my suet log in the back yard. This lovely red-bellied woodpecker has a huge appetite for the peanut/suet plugs that I stuff in this log. He's been showing up several times a day for the last week or so. I hope he keeps me on his route as he is a beautiful flash of color and his stripes are so striking. I love the forked tail and doesn't he look like he's blushing?
I haven't been around much in blogville lately. I just finished up a stretch of working nights in the hospital and I'm just exhausted. But I am excited about a bird trip coming up this Sunday. The Duluth Audubon Society is sponsoring a birding trip to the Sax-Zim bog area of northern Minnesota. Expected sightings include great gray owls, boreal chickadees, gray jays, black-backed woodpeckers, American three-toed woodpeckers, red crossbills, snow buntings and other winter birds! All life birds (except for the GGO) for me! There is a snowy owl hanging around Duluth harbor that I'm hoping to get a look at too. I made hotel reservations for Saturday night for the whole family. Art and the kids will explore around Duluth while I go birding. Fun for every one! Hopefully there will be time to stop by at Hasty Brook before dark. I miss that place so badly. I am thrilled at the idea of seeing the Sax-Zim bog as I've never been there. I'm especially happy to be going there with an experienced guide leading the group.
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Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year All! Things have been quite busy around our house. The kids have been off school all last week, and it seems I haven't had a minute to myself. But now I'm excited to share that I got a scanner for Christmas. I've wanted one for a long time. My Mom has always kept all of our family pictures in a big, tattered cardboard box (a long way from scrapbooking!). I've had it in my mind that I'd like to scan them and categorize them. I'm not sure where to go from there, but now I can give it a try! I'm all of 2 years old in the top picture. Can you say "Chubby"? Just look at those thighs!