Saturday, January 31, 2009

We Hit the Road...

Art and I were on the road at 0645 this morning, headed north to Hasty Brook. The thermometer on the car said 27 degrees. I honestly don't think we've seen 27 degrees for several weeks. The sky was quite overcast but was supposed to clear later in the morning. There was hoarfrost on every branch and it was particularly thick in the bog areas that we drive through south of Hasty. When we arrived we had to park on the side of the road at the end of the driveway as the plowed snow was a few feet deep. We climbed over the snow pile and trudged the deep snow down the long 300 foot driveway to get to our campsite. I carried my camera backpack, binoculars and a big bucket of thistle and shelled peanuts for the feeders. Wonderful Art lugged a 50 pound bag of oilers!
Before we even looked around we filled the feeders. A group of 5-6 Black-capped Chickadees saw us coming and followed us from the car to the feeders, talking to each other the whole way. They fluttered around our heads as we filled the feeders. A pair of Downy Woodpeckers watched and scolded. We cleared an area in the three feet deep snow and set up a pair of folding camp chairs and sat to drink a pop and cool off a bit. A pair of ravens flew around the clearing- I think they were checking out the nutty people lounging in camp chairs in the snow. The sun burned through and the sky was blazing blue as the temps crept up into the thirties. I heard first and then saw a flock of White-winged Crossbills fly into the tops of the spruce trees. A new one for my Hasty yard list! Pine Siskins quickly found the thistle and a few Common Redpolls flew in. Another new Hasty yard bird. The Redpolls were pretty hinky and I couldn't get a decent picture.

A neighbor stopped by that we hadn't met before and invited us to come for a cup of coffee. He'd heard that I was a birder and he and his fiance wanted us to see the birds that came to their feeders. There were Redpolls on their deck! It was the best look I'd ever had. While we drank our coffee and chatted I got to watch the Redpolls four feet away through the patio door. The turkeys from last summer have taken up residence in their yard too, eating shelled corn and cleaning up all the fallen bird seed. All too soon we had to head back home. It was a short trip but I was so happy to see our place. It really made me yearn for the day when we can live there year round.

I was pleased to have seen the Redpolls both at Hasty Brook and at the neighbor's. Last winter was the first time I'd ever seen a Redpoll. I loaded my pictures onto my laptop and started to write this post when I heard an unfamiliar bird call out in our New Hope back yard. I grabbed my binoculars and wouldn't you know it- there was a Common Redpoll on my feeder at home!

Today I got to add Common Redpoll to my Hasty Brook list and my yard list at home.
My trip list wasn't huge but it was special. Actually ANY trip to Hasty Brook is special.
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Pine Siskin
White-winged Crossbill
Hairy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Common Redpoll
Rock Dove
Wild Turkey
American Crow
Common Raven
Red-tailed Hawk
Bald Eagle
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My New Favorite Quote

"Maybe if more people had a duck in your life,
maybe we all wouldn't be all so mad at each other"
Joe Mansheim

Check out this link that Ruthie sent to me.

If it doesn't make you grin just a little, there's something wrong with you.

(the Minnesota accents alone should make you smile)

Testing mobile blogging.

This picture is one I saved on my phone. Here's Susan holding a teeny tiny hermit crab on the beach at Cape May last October.

I was going to use the caption "Susan's got crabs" but I wasn't sure if she would think that was so funny...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

37 Random Things About Me-

I naturally snatched this meme from Jayne for two reasons: There's nothing going on up here to blog about and I could copy and paste and add my own answers with minimal typing which is handy for a one handed typist!

37 Random Things About Me

1. Do you like blue cheese? Yum!

2. Have you ever smoked? Never. Both of my parents and all 5 of my siblings did at various times though.

3. Do you own a gun? No, but Art does. Licensed and locked.

4. What flavor Kool Aid is your favorite? Cherry

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? No.

6. What do you think of hot dogs? Love them grilled to a bit crispy. Mustard ONLY.

7. Favorite Christmas movie? Prancer. (with Sam Elliott. Makes me cry every time)

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Coffee.

9. Can you do push-ups?

10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? A military 4-way medal that was my Dad's.

11. Favorite hobby? Birding/Blogging

12. Do you have A.D.D? No, I'm pretty rigid at work but sloppy at home.

13. Do you wear glasses/contacts? Yes with bifocals. That reminds me I need new ones...

14. Middle name? Marie.

15. Name thoughts at this moment? Need to make a grocery list...

16. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink? Coffee, Lipton's Diet Raspberry Iced Tea (instant), Coke (not diet)

17. Current worry? Lay-offs.

18. Current hate right now? Knowing how much dirty laundry there is downstairs.

19. Favorite place to be? Hasty Brook.

20. How did you bring in the New Year? Sleeping. I had to work at 0630 on January 1.

21. Where would you like to go? See #19.

22. Name three people who will complete this? Susan, May, Ruthie.

23. Do you own slippers? I need a new pair.

24 What color shirt are you wearing? Blue and white.

25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Never tried them. I do love micro fleece sheets in winter.

26. Can you whistle? Yes, but not as well as my brother Phil.

27. Favorite Color? Yellow.

28. What songs do you sing in the shower? Anything. Right now I'm really loving Ray LaMontagne and Emmylou Harris.

29. Would you be a pirate? Arrr...NO. They fight and steal and don't shower.

30. Favorite Girl's Name? Amalie Rose. That's Molly's given name. Amalie was her great-grandmother from Germany. Rose is from St. Therese, the Little Flower.

31. Favorite boy's name? John Wallace. Johnny was named John for my Mom's father and Wallace for my Dad.

32. What's in your pocket right now? A rosary and Cabella's chap stick.

33. Last thing that made you laugh? A funny email from Richard.

34. What vehicle do you drive? Pontiac Grand Prix GTP.

35. Worst injury you've ever had? Torn meniscus.

36. Do you love where you live? YES.

37. How many TVs do you have in your house? Four.

Let's see whole else wants to share these 37 random facts.

Monday, January 19, 2009


I wish I had something great to post about. I haven't been out birding in what seems like ages. My left wrist which I use to hold my camera lens had been giving me fits for quite a while so it was definitely time to get it fixed. Even holding my binoculars for any length of time caused problems. Last week I had it surgically repaired but that meant I was pretty much house-bound for the week. Minnesota temperatures for nearly the entire week were below zero and this ice was the view out the window. I think I have a bad case of cabin fever. If we have a warmer day this week or next I plan to make a day trip up to Hasty Brook. I can't put into words how much I miss that place. Our cabin plans have been put on hold due to the state of our economy. It's the smart thing to do I know but I can't stop believing that we'll live there some day. We'll just move in smaller steps.
I do have another birding festival coming up. In February I'll head up to the Sax-Zim Bog for their second Sax-Zim Bog Winter Birding Festival.
Last year Ruthie and I went and had a blast. This year Deb and I are going and we're on a mission to see a Boreal Chickadee. There have been plenty of sightings up there so I expect we'll get our bird. I've still never seen a Gray Jay either and hope to add it to my life list as well. It's been a terrific winter for northern owls too. Snowy, Great Gray and Northern Hawk Owls have been seen frequently. I can't wait to get away to this festival. One of the field trips goes right past Hasty Brook and spends time in the areas around our place. We'll be visiting Sharp-tailed Grouse leks several miles from Hasty. Can't wait to learn more about the birds in my area.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I saw this quiz on Red's blog and can you believe it? This is what I got:

Your Power Bird is a Vulture

Your Power Bird is a Vulture
You are always changing your life and the lives of those around you.
You aren't afraid to move on from what holds you back.
Energetic and powerful, you have a nearly unlimited capacity for success.
You know how to "go with the flow" and take advantage of what is given to you.

I loves me some Turkey Vultures!

Oooh Baby- It's COLD Outside!

Here in Minnesota we're stuck in a pretty nasty cold snap with high temperatures forecast in the single digits below zero. That's the kind of cold that hurts pretty fast. When my kids left for the bus this morning at 0630 it was 17 BELOW!!
There's nothing much going on around here. I had carpal tunnel repair surgery on Monday. I'm hoping to have fewer problems holding binoculars and my camera with the fix. I'm out of work for two weeks and I can take off the soft cast tomorrow. The only birdwatching I'm doing is out the window using nothing but my eyes! It's really too cold to get out anyway.
The Lincoln's Sparrow has moved on or was snatched by the neighborhood Cooper's Hawk. I'm hoping he's hanging out somewhere else. It seems most of the house sparrows that he associated with have moved on too. There have been many Pine Siskins, Juncos and House Finches here for the last few weeks. Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers are regulars and there's been a pretty Red-bellied Woodpecker here for the last few days. Hope he stays- the flash of color is bold in the white/gray/brown of our winter landscape.
There's been new Junco behavior with the colder temps. I understood from the field guides that Juncos are ground feeders but there are a few that have decided that the thistle socks are a good spot for lunch. This one has one foot on each sock! Even the cheeky Pine Siskins couldn't chase him off. This morning I saw a Junco on the wooden suet plug feeder drilling away for suet. They must need a tremendous number of calories just to stay warm.

The colder it gets and the harder it snows, the busier the feeders get.

I had to toss in a picture of John and Molly from Christmas Eve. It's hard to believe that they're both in high school. I'm so proud of them. They are both growing into such good people- kind hearted and responsible. They have semester finals today and tomorrow.

Good Luck to my Kid(ney)s!

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Hey- HEY- Hey!

Tim from the amazing blog From the Faraway, Nearby is hosting IATB #91. Join Tim as he takes you on a whirlwind tour of the ten top birding regions of the world. It's sure to be a fabulous trip! When you're done with Tim's tour, be sure to scroll back and look around at Tim's posts. He is a magnificent photographer and his writing is beautiful and from his heart.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Sven and Ole

Way up here in Minnesooota we have Sven and Ole jokes and Ole and Lena jokes. We like to laugh at ourselves and our predominantly Scandinavian heritage. There's not much else to do in January... No sir-ee Bob!
I thought I'd share a Sven and Ole joke

Sven and Ole are walking down a street in Madison, Wisconsin, when and they see a sign on a store that reads, "Suits $5.00 each, shirts $2.00 each, trousers $2.50 per pair." Sven says to his pal, "Looky here! We could buy a whole gob of dese, take 'em back to Duluth, sell 'em to our friends, and make a fortune. Now when we go in there, you be quiet, okay? Just let me do the talkin' 'cause if they hear your accent, they might think we're ignorant, and try to cheat us. Now, I'll try not to sound like we're from Minnesota. They go in and Sven says with his best Wisconsin accent,"I'll take 50 of them suits at $5.00 each, 100 of them there shirts at $2.00 each, and 50 pairs of them there trousers at $2.50 each. I'll back up my pickup and ....." The owner of the shop interrupts, "You're from Minnesota, ain't you?" "Well...yeah," says a surprised Sven. "How'd you know dat!" "Because this is a dry-cleaners."

If you liked that one I've got more- Ya-sure, you betcha!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2008 Was About Meeting Friends and Learning About Life

Don't look for any bird pictures in this post. It's all about the wonderful people I met in 2008 that share my love for birds. I was very fortunate to be able to take several birding trips last year. The first one was to the Sax-Zim Bog Birding Festival last February. That's when I got to meet Ruthie. Ruthie and I hit it off right away and laughed and talked for miles and miles. I was amazed to learn that Ruthie can knit in the dark!

Mike Hendrickson was the festival coordinator- he built it from scratch and did an outstanding job. Mike is also a Minnesota blogger. He's lots of fun and a really skilled birder and guide.

Luckily I found out today that my vacation request from work was granted so I'll be able to attend the Sax-Zim Bog Festival again this year in Ferbruary!! Yahoo!

Another Minnesota blogger I met was Jeff from Ecobirder. Jeff is an amazing photographer. Be sure to check out his blog.

Yet another Minnesota blogger I met at the Sax-Zim Festival was Laura Erickson. Laura is working her dream job at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. If you're looking for some terrific bird podcasts check out For the Birds.

When Ruthie and I left the Sax-Zim bog to star driving south for home we made a slight detour to visit Deb from Sand Creek Almanac at her home in the pines of northern Minnesota. I've been lucky to meet Deb several times both birding and just to visit and I count her as a good friend. I love this picture at Deb's with Sally jumpung up to join the girls at the last minute!Last June I exchanged a few emails with Linda from Erie's Argonaut. She and her husband were going to be in Minneapolis and I was so excited to meet her for a morning of birding. Unfortnately that was one of the buggiest mornings ever and we called the birding quits and wound up talking and laughing at a nearby coffee shop for several hours. It was such fun! I asked a lady at the next table to take a quick picture of Linda and me to remember the day. Later that week Linda and her husband stopped off to visit us at Hasty Brook. Art and I had a great time and we hope they'll come back again.

Speaking of Art, somehow I talked him into going on my next birding trip with me in September. Art is not a birder but he had a good time as the designated "chummer" on a Duluth pelagic trip.

It was COLD.

The first weekend in October brought me to Milbank, South Dakota to a three day sparrow workshop. I carpooled out with strangers and spent a three day weekend with no one that I knew. Kind of a jump for me, but you all probably know by now that I make friends pretty easily. (too easily Art said) That was a pretty intense workshop with not alot of down time but I sure learned alot and it was really good for me to have time just to myself.
Then, at the last weekend of October came Cape May New Jersey. A BIG trip. Flying off alone, renting a car and driving across the state to stay in a condo with two other women I'd never met before. Good grief what women they were!
Kathi, Susan and me.

All I can do is shake my head remebering the jumble of laughter, stories, laughter, workshops, laughter, food, laugher and, ok, a few good birds.
I love this picture. This salt marsh boat tour was my favorite field trip of the weekend. We all had such a good time. Kathi, sweet Laura, Jay from birdJam Hi Jay!, Susan and me.

We had a dinner out that brought lots of bloggers together. There was John from A DC Birding Blog.
Delia and Birdchick and their thousand watt smiles.
Sharon, Beth, Kathi and me. Beth was a new friend (she's old now?) just that day. Staring up a conversation with a stranger during a field trip has brought me another good friend. Can you see how lucky I am?
This picture of Laura, Susan and me, taken by Jay will aways bring a lump to my throat.
Such a bittersweet night that was.
In November I got a wonderful gift when I met Hap in New Hope. Can't say enough about what a kind fellow Hap is. Hap doesn't have a blog (you should have a blog Hap!) but has commented here for a while.
So my bloggy life list grew quite a bit in 2008 and I can't wait to see who I get to meet this year.
Bloggy Life List
(friends through blogging)
Mike from Colder by the Lake Birding
Laura Erickson
Sharon the Birdchick
Ruthie the Nature Knitter
Deb from Sand Creek Almanac
Linda from Erie's Argonaut
Jeff the Ecobirder
Susan from Susan Gets Native
Kathi the Katdoc
Laura from Somewhere in NJ
Delia from Beginning to Bird
John from a DC Birding Blog
Jay from birdJam
Beth from Pennsylvania
Hap in New Hope
There's still time to join us in West Virginia at the New River Birding and Nature Festival April 27- May 2, 2009. The field trips sound great, the birding fantastic and I'm sure there will be non-stop fun. (as in bring the Depends!)
I hope to add to my bird life list and there should be plenty of opportunity for that.
But what I'm REALLY looking forward to is adding to my Bloggy Life List.
I hope to spot these new bloggies:
Mary from Mary's View
Nina from Nature Remains
Susan from Lake Life
Kathie from Sycamore Canyon
Bill Thompson from Bill of the Birds
and spend time with old friends:
Delia from Beginning to Bird
Kathi the Katdoc
Laura from Somewhere in NJ
Susan from Susan Gets Native
Beth from Pennsylvania!
Think about joining us- it'll be a blast!
There's a link on my sidebar with more information.
To all of you who come here to visit-

I wish you a happy, healthy, safe and peaceful New Year
and I'll keep my eyes open- maybe I'll be blessed to meet you this year.