Thursday, February 28, 2008

Turkey Tursday

I took my kids and two of their friends to the Mall of America last week for Molly's birthday. The parking out there was NUTS. I assumed that since it wasn't a weekend, the crowds wouldn't be that bad. Well, it was President's Day. That meant no school. That meant that nearly every kid from middle school on up was at the mall. ACK. Well, I tried to make the most of it. I'd heard there was a big Wild Birds Unlimited there so I set out to find it. The MOA isn't just any mall, this place is three levels of hugeness. It took me fifteen minutes just to find one of those information kiosks. Five minutes of scanning the multiple maps and hundreds of store names and I couldn't find a thing. I gave up and picked up an information telephone to ask real person for assistance. "We're sorry ma'am, that store went out of business quite a while ago". Are there any other bird stores? Any stores relating to wildlife? Nature? "Um, no".

The kids finished their shopping and we headed to the Rain Forest Cafe for a late lunch. The service was terrific, the food was fair, and the check made my eyes pop and my jaw drop.

Finally, we were back in the car, headed home. Until we got on the freeway and came to a complete stop. Rush hour traffic at four o'clock. GRR. The kids were all jazzed up on chocolate volcano cake and pop and chattered happily and loudly as we crept along.

We finally got to the neighborhood where John's friend lives to drop him off. Looking ahead, there was a big brown lump in the road. The kids were all making guesses as to what the lump was. I grabbed the binoculars that I keep in the car just for times like this. The lump was a wild turkey parked right in the middle of the road! I quickly grabbed my camera but couldn't get the auto focus to hold on it. Molly started shrieking that the turkey was after us. The turkey was running fast toward the car. It stopped right outside the driver's side window and tucked one leg up into its feathers and just stood there.

"I know you had a less than perfect day at the MOA. I've come to tell you that I am your reward for slogging through the crowds and gritting your teeth in traffic. You may revel in my beauty and take my picture. Oh, and you should re-think that whole turkey vulture thing. Turkeys are much prettier."


I think it said that.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New Hope Red Tail

Not a perfect picture, but I like it.
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Monday, February 25, 2008

Assisted Living at Hasty Brook

Hasty Brook Assisted Living Community

Happy Living for Retired Bird Bloggers

Are you looking for a retirement community away from the hustle and bustle of the city?

Do you long to spend your golden years surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of nature?

Experience Hasty Brook Assisted Living Community- a wonderful choice for seniors who wish to maintain an independent lifestyle with the security of supportive services. Hasty Brook presents a new option for seniors who want to live in a lively community of like minded birders. Pets are welcome!

Affordable rent at Hasty Brook includes:

spacious suites with lovely views of the creek, the woods and multiple bird feeding stations,

a Bose in every suite,

delicious homemade meals,

concierge van service with semi-weekly guided bird field trips,

fitness classes,

A library including every field guide immaginable,

a full activities program,

beauty and barber services,

regular visits from optics reps who will clean and tune binoculars and spotting scopes at no charge,

weekly housekeeping

and MUCH more!


Every resident of Hasty Brook will be encourage to bring his or her special talents to the community. Join us in the community room for daily activities


Learn to knit lap blankets with Ruthie the Nature Knitter.

Create beaded eyeglass neck thingies with Susan Gets Native (bifocals mandatory).

Learn the art of wheel-thrown pottery with Katdoc who will lead residents in making cereal bowls for morning Cream of Wheat (dentures optional).
Susan from Lake Life will teach meal worm husbandry to keep our birds fat and happy.

Enjoy poetry readings with Laura from Somewhere in NJ.

Julie Zickefoose and Mary's View will share hilarious stories of life with Bostons.
Deb from Sand Creek Almanac will offer her musical talents playing mandolin, guitar, banjo and flute.

Join Art (my DH) in the fully equipt workshop where he'll be building bird houses, telescopes, weather vanes and more.

Share YOUR talent here__________.


Call for more information, or better yet, stop and visit. Walk our groomed trails- all wheelchair accessible. Have a complimentary lunch and relax in our gazebo- there's plenty of room to park your walker!
This silly post was inspired by Mary from Mary's View and her desire to live away from the ever continuing development of bird and wildlife habitats.
What special talents would YOU bring to the community?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

In Case You Wanted to Know...

Art took the day off work and we spent $1500 on tile for our gutted bathroom. He and his brother are hoping to get the bulk of the tiling done this weekend. We've been making do with two half baths and a make-shift shower in the basement. We're talking tiny fiberglass shower stall with a garden hose connected to the wash tubs!
I had a male red-bellied woodpecker chasing a female around the maple tree in the back yard today. I've never seen a male here before, it would be so neat if they stayed.
It's 24 DEGREES outside this afternoon!! I threw open a few windows and I'm trying to keep myself from running around in shirtsleeves. The air smells sweet and fresh and the sun is warmer than it's been in a looong time. Get out there and enjoy it- I hope it's nice where you are!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Just a quick note to let you know that there is a comment line about a mile past the end of the previous post. I tried to remove the space under "Edit Posts" but that post appears to be 75% missing! Any Blogger pro's out there with a suggestion? Wonky Blogger!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sax-Zim Festival of Birds

We started our festival weekend Friday morning. Ruth picked me up and we headed north. We stopped for lunch and to top off the gas tank in Moose Lake. I told Ruth that Hasty Brook was not far out of the way so we took a slight detour and stopped at "the lovliest place in my world". There was so much snow there wasn't even room to pull off the road so we looked around from there. It was so nice to have Ruth see my place. But the afternoon was flying so we hit the road again and motored on into Duluth, made a quick stop to check in to our hotel and drove on to the pretty little town of Meadowlands. There we were greeted by these colorful banners depicting various winter birds of the area. Before I go any further I'd like to thank the people of Meadowlands and the surrounding area for welcoming the festival birders so kindly. We were welcomed warmly and fed like royalty!
When I walked in to the community center to register for the festival I was greeted with a big hug from Mike Hendrickson the man who put this festival together.

Here's a shot of Mike addressing the crowd before the evening program. Only about one third of the people are visible. I believe there were 153 birders in attendance, representing 19 states! That's an amazing turn-out for a first year festival. The evening speaker was Dave Benson, author of a new book- Owls of the North, a Naturalists's handbook. He shared great information and is a terrific story teller. After his presentaion everyone headed back to their hotels as we needed to be back in Meadowlands and on our busses ready to hit the birding trails by 0600 the following morning.

We were driving down the roads of the bog before morning light scanning tree tops for Great Gray Owls- no luck. But our first stop was a local family's increadable feeding station. We could see the busy activity from across the road and as we neared we could see the special birds feeding there. There were Common Redpolls everywhere! And then the guides pointed out, in among the Common Redpolls was a Hoary Redpoll! I love these frosty little birds. Both Redpolls were life birds for me!! Yahoo!!! Can you see the Pine Grosbeak sitting on top? That's another lifer!!

There were quite a few Evening Grosbeaks flying in and out. What beautiful birds, both perching and in flight. It was hard to leave this place, there were so many gorgeous birds here but our schedule had us moving along to look for more.

Another road in the bog had an area with suet cages and a part of a deer carcass set out to attract Boreal Chickadees, Black-capped Chickadees, Gray Jays, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers. Within a few minutes of our arrival at the deer carcass a flock of Chickadees arrived. Among the flock we could hear a Boreal Chickadee but it just wouldn't show itself to us. The gray Jays must have been in a different part of the woods too.

Time to move on and looks for woodpeckers. We did have a fly-over of a Black-backed woodpecker that another bus had watched and id'd. Pictured above you can see fresh flaking of black spruce bark. The flaked bark is below the tree on the snow and the exposed wood of the tree is a rusty brown color. This is a good indicator that Black-backed or American Three-toed Woodpeckers have beed foraging on this tree.

We lucked out and got a great, long look at this male American Three-toed Woodpecker. All too soon the morning was over and it was time to head over toward Duluth and lunch. On our way we went to a spot where a Northern Hawk Owl had been sighted. Sure enough one of our guides spotted it hunting over an open field. We got to watch it for a bit- what a fast little owl. This bird was really a big thrill for quite a few of the birders on our bus. I didn't take any pictures of this owl as I have some from last year.

However, I was really excited to get a picture of this rare sighting across the road!

Back on the bus, a quick stop for fast food lunch, and we were headed for the Superior landfill looking for rare gulls. I think I've mentioned before that I really don't have a passion for gulls. I think a good part of my attitude is that they really are complicated to ID. With LOTS fo help from one of our trip leaders I was finally able to pick out two white gulls with dark bill tips that were different from the rest- Glaucous Gulls- my fourh lifer!! If you click on the picture above, and scroll around on the gulls, maybe you'll see the Glaucous Gull too.

Ruthie, Mike and me (would Photoshop work on my windburn and double chin?)

The day was getting late so the bus driver pointed the bus back toward Meadowlands. We were greeted with smiles and congratulations on life birds and piles and piles of hot food! I would decribe the meal as a classic Minnesota church supper- ham, mashed potatoes, meatballs and gravy, green bean hotdish, cole slaw, pickles and olives, and perfect dinner rolls.

It was heavenly!

Our evening speaker was Laura Erickson. She gave a wonderful talk about birds of the bog. She's a terrific, funny speaker and I learned alot. She brought her eduation screech owl Archimedes along. It was a real treat to see a screech owl up close and it was so apparent that she loves that little owl. I brought along two of Laura's books and she signed them graciously. Now let me tell you what a dork I am. I bought one of the books at a used book store. When Laura opened the cover to inscribe it, she asked me "So, who's Melissa?". Puzzled at the question, I'm thinking that the previous owner must have been Melissa and she must have put her name in the book. So I answered that I didn't know who Melissa was but that I'd bought the book used. Laura smiled and signed the book. I tucked both books in my bag and Ruth and I left. When we got back to the hotel I glanced at the inside cover to read her inscription and saw Laura Erickson's name not once, but twice. She had originally inscribed the book to Melissa when she bought it too! When she signed it for me she wrote:

"To Lynne,

Thanks for conserving paper and birds.

Owl the Best,

Laura Erickson"

I've read that book cover to cover and have picked it up and re-read sections several times since and I cannot believe I never noticed that it had been signed before. Sigh...

The next morning brought a forecast of blizzard conditions in southern Minnesota so Ruth and left a bit earlier than we had planned. But we had made arrangements to stop and visit Deb at Sand Creek Almanac, another wonderful Minnesota blogger. I can call Deb an old friend (we've met three times now!) but she and Ruth had never met. We had such a blast seeing where Deb lives and meeting her children and many pets. I loved seeing the place that inspires Deb's beautiful writing. It gave me a connection to her that I never had before. We got a tour of the FABULOUS house that they're building. The design is amazing and I'm starting my campaign of hinting for an invite to the open house when they move in this summer! We spent quite a while watching Deb's feeders. The chickadees, redpolls and pine grosbeaks put of a show for us giving us a chance for just a few more pictures.

Deb's lovely young daughter Starflower took a photo of the three Minnesota blogging gals just before we left. Sally the yellow lab jumped up right at the last minute to plant a quick lick and get in on the act.

I got to meet another Minnesota bird blogger at the festival. Jeff at Ecobirder is an amazing photographer and a very nice fellow. He'll be posting his photos from the festival and I can't wait to see them. Be sure to follow the link and check them out.


Thank you Ruthie for the wonderful birding weekend, and for the warm wool socks and the lovely prayer shawl that you knit for me.

Thank you Deb for opening your home to us to visit and for letting us see your Sand Creek.

Thank you Mike for working so hard to put this terrific festival together for birders to experience the Sax-Zim Bog.

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Bog Bloggers

Sunrise over the Sax-Zim Bog
The first anual Sax-Zim Bog Festival of Birds was a FANTASTIC success!! Wonderful friends-both new and old, FOUR life birds, so much laughter and lots of new knowledge about birds. I could not have asked for a better weekend. BUT- today is my daughter's 15th birthday and I
promised to take both of my kids and one friend each to the Mall of America (ugh...) so check back later for my post about this wonderful festival!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sax Zim Birding Festival

Tomorrow morning we're finally headed to the Bog. Ruthie is picking me up in the morning for our trip Up North to the Sax Zim Bog Festival of Birds. I've been to that area a couple of times before and can't wait to get back. One of the field trip destinations is the Hedbom logging road which is only about 20 miles north of Hasty Brook. The field trip Ruthie and I signed up for on Saturday includes a trip to Duluth Harbor and I'm hoping we'll stop at the Duluth airport where a Snowy Owl has been sighted many times this winter. I'd be thrilled to see the the Snowy Owl but my all time favorite bird sighting was when I saw a Snowy in Duluth in January, 2007.
Here's my bird wish list:
gray jay
boreal chickadee
pine grosbeak
evening grosbeak
common redpoll
hoary redpoll
snowy owl
great gray owl
Really, I just want to meet Ruthie, relax, see birds, relax, meet new friends and greet old friends, laugh, relax, have fun and relax. An added bonus is that we're stopping on the way back down to the Cities to visit Deb from the Sand Creek Almanac. It'll be a regular Minnesota Blogger's Convention!
Wish us luck!
I hope I bought enough hand-warmers!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Thank you Barefoot!

The lovely Barefoot in the Garden, a fellow Minnesota blogger nominated me for the "You Make My Day Award" and I'm just so flattered. Thank you! Now I'm supposed to nominate 10 others but to be really honest, I'll have to give it some thought and do it later.
I've got a tight schedule for this week. I'm making my list and packing for the Sax Zim Bog Festival of Birds. Ruthie the Nature Knitter is picking me up Friday morning here in the Twin Cities and we'll be car-pooling on up to our lovely hotel in Duluth. There will be a dinner and program Friday evening. Dave Benson, a naturalist from Duluth and author of Owls of the North: a Naturalist's Handbook will be the speaker. Saturday will start early (0600!) for our field trip to the Sax-Zim Bog and on to the Duluth Harbor. On Saturday evening will have dinner and Laura Erickson will speak. Laura recently took the job of science editor at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Both speaker should be great.
I am just so excited about this trip and I can't wait to share it all.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Wild Thing!

I've always felt it was a thrill and an honor to make eye contact with a wild thing.
She stared at me so long this afternoon,
made me glad I wasn't snack-sized!
Wild thing
You make my heart sing
You make everything
One of my favorite songs ever!
by the Troggs

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Lifer?

This handsome African Gray parrot is about the extent of my birding as of late. He lives at the nursing home where my sister is living now and from the first time I met him he has liked me. He talks quite a lot but mostly only when I turn my back. Last week he surprized me by asking "Wanna go to Albuquerque?" He gets as close as he can and gives kisses. About ten years ago he came in with a resident and has become a permanent resident himself even though his owner has since died. My whole family enjoys visiting him after we've visited with my sister. I will say though I have seen MANY red-tailed hawks along the freeway while driving back and forth to the nursing home.
My backyard is hosting all of the winter regulars, house sparrows, house finches, juncos, goldfinches, cardinals and blue jays, white breasted and red breasted nuthatches. The downy and hairy woodpeckers and chickadees are everywhere. Right now as I'm writing this it is two-thirty in the afternoon and the temperature is a whopping -7 with a windchill factor of -31!! The gusty winds aren't expected to die down until later this evening. There is a handfull of chickadees huddled and tapping their black oilers on the window air conditioner in the bedroom window. Birds often gather there on cold days because of the warm air that I'm sure leaks out through the window. Even on such a brutally cold day as today I am cheered to hear the spring songs of the chickadees and house finches. The male cardinals are singing territorial songs high in the bare tree branches. Because of my sister's illness, as tired as I am of the cold, I find myself trying not to wish for time to hurry us into spring. But no matter our wishes, the days lengthen and the sun passes higher in the sky in it's own time. There is so much in life that is unpredictable and out of our control but the seasons merge one into another in their own time too.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Peace of Saint Francis

Far and away my favorite room in the Como Park Conservatory is what I always called the fern room. It is cool and the air is moist, smelling of life and all things green. There is a little waterfall that tumbles over rocks and past various ferns into a pool at the feet of this lovely statue if Saint Francis. Saint Francis is even a bit green and there are thick carpets of mosses between the plants.

And then there are the orchids. There are creamy orchids,

wispy, delicate orchids,

and sparkly orchids.
I know absolutely nothing about orchids except that they are amazingly beautiful. My visit to the Conservatory refreshed me. I won't let years go by before I visit there again.
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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Monday, February 04, 2008

Color on a Cloudy Day

I took a break last Friday afternoon to spend some much needed time on my own. Since I was in St. Paul I decided to take my new camera to the Como Park Conservatory. The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory are over 100 years old and I have many happy memories of visiting the zoo from childhood on. This room of the Conservatory is popular for weddings. The flowers are changed often with different flowers and color pallettes. January here in Minnesota was very cold and gray and the warm moist air, the color and the intoxicating scent of the flowers were like a mini-vacation.

On a matching bench across the reflecting pool from this one sat a woman doing a tiny watercolor painting of the beautiful lilies. I watched her from a distance but didn't want to intrude on her work.

There are many colorful koi in this pool. I think if I were one I'd love to live here.

Does anyone know what this flower is? It smelled softly of vanilla.

The asiactic lilies were all in shades of white through dark pink. Their fragrance was lovely but a bit overwhelming if I got too close. I think I spent an hour in this room but the orchids and the fern room were calling...

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