birds


This morning when we got to church I poked my head outside to see if the forked bluecurls has come up yet. They had:

Forked bluecurls (Tricostema dichotomum)

Forked bluecurls (Tricostema dichotomum)


This is one of my favorites. I love the stamens. Apparently, so did the person who name the plant “forked bluecurls”, because that’s what the name is talking about.

After church, and a nap, I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. I wanted to see if the Pipewort was out yet. I think it’s too late now for the floating heart, so I’ve missed them this year. Oh well.

When we got there Penny went straight into the pond to cool down and get a drink. The ducks were nonplussed. They didn’t fly away, but they did back off. I took a few shots.

Ducks!

Ducks!


Not being a bird expert, I will not even try to id these. Wood ducks? Female mallard & young? I have no idea.

While looking for the pipewort, I found some Virginia marsh St Johnswort:

Virginia marsh St Johnswort (Triadenum virginicum)

Virginia marsh St Johnswort (Triadenum virginicum)


These will be in bloom for pretty much the rest of the summer. They add a welcome splash of color to the beach.

Then I saw the pipewort. This one was close to short so I didn’t have to wade in after it.

Pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum)

Pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum)

But while I was setting up to take its photo, I saw the water lobelia a little farther out. I knew I wanted a photo of one, but I didn’t want to wade, so I went farther down the beach. Not finding more, I returned, took off my boots, rolled up the pants, and went after them.

Water lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna)

Water lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna)


I should have worn swimming trunks so I could have knelt down to get a steady shot. The light was perfect, but I was bent over trying to hold the camera steady while not going in so deep as to soak my pant legs. So the shot could have been better, but I really like the soft background!

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Today I went to the field-that-was-a-forest to pick some blueberries. I had gone there a couple of weeks ago and picked about a pint and a half, but that’s not enough for making pie. (The recipes call for 5-6 cups). Penny came along in case I needed any sticks thrown, or grouse flushed.

Ruffed Grouse?

Ruffed Grouse?

There were at least three of them. Two flushed as soon as we walked by, and I didn’t even see them. The third flushed a few seconds later but didn’t go far. I think this one might be a juvenile, but I am not a bird expert. I’m not even sure it’s a ruffed grouse.

The berries were past their prime. Two weeks ago the bushes were loaded with them. This week I had to search diligently. I think I picked maybe a pint after an hour’s effort. Luckily, the blackberries are coming in now, and I picked a few cups of those too. Between the blueberries and the blackberries, I have enough to make a pie. There are recipes out there that use both, so I will follow one of those.

Miss Sally is one of the three wooden canoes I bought on behalf of the Pathfinders back in August. She is resting on a rack I built before winter set in, and I went out there today and noticed that she has some visitors.

Miss Sally's guests

Miss Sally’s guests

Miss Sally was in the best condition of all the boats (though Miss Nancy is in better shape now that she has been worked on). But since Miss Nancy is still in my garage, these birds picked the nicest apartment on the rack.

It’s a good thing Miss Sally doesn’t need to go for a paddle anytime soon!

Anyone know the species? I’ll keep an eye on them so when Momma comes back maybe I can tell.

It looks like spring is finally arriving in New Hampshire, and with it, the opportunity to burn brush piles without a permit is fast evaporating. As long as there is snow on the ground, Northfield (and most other towns in New Hampshire) does not require a burn permit. So I got busy and lit one.

This snow is gone now

This snow is gone now


This brush pile was too big to light in situ. I was afraid the flames would climb a little too high and scorch the tree limbs that hang over it. I don’t think there were any tree limbs hanging over it when I started the pile, so that should give some idea as to how long I have been piling brush here.

Instead, I removed the brush from the pile and burned it in a much more controllable fire next to it. I thought I’d be out there until midnight, so I started the fire well before Beth was out of school. Unfortunately, it went quite a bit faster than I anticipated, and by the time she got home, it was nearly gone.

I saw another sign of spring on Thursday:

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)


These are the first flowers I’ve seen, and were blooming on the banks of the Merrimack River in Concord. When I got home after taking these shots, I went out and took down my sap buckets. There wasn’t much sap in them at all, and it had more of a yellowish color, so I dumped it out. All in all, I think I collected 8 or ten gallons of sap. I have boiled it most of the way down, but it needs to go a little more, as it’s still a little too thin. As is, I have almost a quart, but it will be less than that when I reduce it some more.

And now for some big news – last week I wrote that we were treated to the spectacle of an American Woodcock outside one of the windows at church. Well, I suppose that bird has taken up residence, as it was out there again today. The kids who go to school at our church tell me they’ve been seeing this bird all week. One kid wanted to throw a dodge ball at it, but one of my Pathfinders stopped him (yay!)

But I didn’t know about that until this morning. I was going to the Pathfinder trailer to get the rest of a flag pole when I heard the woodcock stir in the bushes, startled (but not too much I guess) at my arrival. He didn’t fly off, so I fetched my camera.

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)

It started bobbing while I was taking pictures, so I went ahead and shot a little shakey hand-held video while I was out there.

Today was also a pretty big day for the Pathfinder Club. We drove up to the Laconia Church to present the worship service there. We’ve been working on another Biblical newscast. This one was taken from the Gospel of Mark, and included pre-recorded segments for our “live action reporters” as well as live, on-stage performances with our anchor crew who would interact with the pre-recorded performers.

We were supposed to present this at our church in Concord first, but a week before we were scheduled to do it, the external hard drive containing all our footage was plugged into the wrong power supply and bit the big one. So we rescheduled for April 13 and re-shot all the video. This meant that our second scheduled performance would become our first performance.

I’d post a link to the pre-recorded segments, but since they rely on banter with live, unrecorded people, it would be pretty confusing. We intend to record the live performance part too when we present in Concord, so if I can get my hands on that footage, I will link you to it.

This morning after I dropped Beth off at school I went home by a circuitous route through the back roads of Canterbury. I had solved a geocache puzzle some time ago (maybe a year ago) and decided it was high time I picked it up.

Before I got there, a white tailed deer sprung out from the woods and crossed the road in front of me. Since this was a country road with no traffic whatsoever, I stopped and looked at the deer for a minute. She had another deer with her, and I expect it was last year’s fawn. They were too far off in the woods to even think about photography, so I left my camera in the bag.

Then I went off to collect the geocache. It was in a guardrail next to this pretty little stream.

A stream in Canterbury, NH

A stream in Canterbury, NH


Having found the cache, I got back in the car and looked for a place to turn around. Not finding one, the road took me to a farm (Hackleboro Apple Orchard), so I turned around there. I don’t like turning around where a road ends basically in someone’s driveway, but sometimes, that’s what happens.

As I made my way back through Canterbury, I saw a very large cat bound across the road in front of me. It was a bobcat! I had never seen one in the wild before, so this was a first for me. It stopped about 100 yards into the forest, turned around and looked back at me. I didn’t have a clear view, so I back up ten or twelve feet, thinking I might be able to go for a photo. But the bobcat thought otherwise. As soon as I began backing up, it took off running again and was gone in less than two seconds. Sigh.

I drove slowly trying to remember exactly where it crossed the road so I could look at its tracks, but I didn’t find them. Instead, I saw a pair of farm dogs galloping down the fence row on the side of the road from whence the bobcat had come. Maybe that’s what it was running from.

I am almost ready for warmer weather now, not because I don’t like winter (I do very much), but because I need some temperatures more conducive to canoe repair. I can’t use epoxy until the temp is at least 60, and 70 would be much, much better. I thought I might be able to heat the garage up some with a space heater if it was 40 outside, so I brought one home from church and plugged it in. It only raised the temperature to about 50 in the garage – not nearly warm enough. So I returned the space heater on Saturday.

Speaking of Saturday, while I was at church, one of the kids in my Sabbath School class noticed a bird outside our classroom window and wanted to know what it was. I took a quick glance and erroneously pronounced it a mourning dove. Upon further inspection, I knew that it was most certainly not a mourning dove. I had no idea what it was. We observed the bird through the window for about five minutes from less than 10 feet away. It had a very long bill and would use it to probe holes in the ground, presumably for snacks of the invertebrate variety. It would bob up and down rather comically. What a day for me to have decided to leave the camera at home! I always take my camera to church with me, but when I saw it that morning, I inexplicably decided… nah. :-/

When I left the room it was still out there. I sought out one of our church members who is a wildlife biologist. He has done some birding, but even though that was not his expertise, he came down straight away. He thought it might be an American Woodcock, but wasn’t sure. When I got home I looked that up, and I have to say, he nailed it.

So three rare (for me) wildlife sightings in as many days, and exactly zero photos of them. Still, just seeing them was a treat for me, and perhaps not being able to take pictures made me observe them more carefully in person.

OK, more on the fishing trip to the Red River Trout Dock. The first time I finished paddling my canoe, I hauled it up on the dock and then dragged it up to the ramp leading to the shore. I was getting ready to carry it back up the hill to my car when the owner of the dock stopped me and suggested I just leave it down at the dock. I was not going to argue! He is a fantastic guy, and I very much appreciated his gesture.

He also stopped me before I went out the first time because I didn’t have a “throwie” cushion in the boat. I did not know this, but Arkansas law requires one of those, even if everyone in the boat is wearing a PFD. He loaned me one while we were there, and that is another reason I think he was a pretty swell fellow.

The order of the rest of the events is still something of a blur to me now. I guess getting up every morning at 5:00am will do that to a person. So I will just put up a few photos and comment on them. We’ll start with some black vultures (Coragyps atratus).

Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)

Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)

These are not exactly easy to see in the photo. These early morning paddling excursions were not the greatest for photography because there was always so much fog. But there are three individuals in this shot. They were feeding on something – maybe fish – but I couldn’t get a good look at that.

The river was always so foggy in the morning because the water is always about 46 degrees. The water is fed through the spillway from the bottom of the lake. I don’t remember how deep the intake is, but I seem to think it was 165 feet. Maybe more, or maybe less. I do remember that it was between 100 and 200 feet though.

That is the reason they can even have trout in Arkansas. Trout like cold water, and Arkansas is not reknown for that. But when they built the dam they created a cold water river, and that killed all the native fish. So now they stock it with trout.

The fog wasn’t always horrible for photography though. Here’s a shot I liked because of the fog.

Two fishermen on the Red River

Two fishermen on the Red River


I think these were the first people I saw on the river that morning. I heard them long before I saw them though.

And now I will embarrass myself by posting some eagle pictures. I know these are not all that good, but I can make plenty of excuses for that. First, I am not much of a bird photographer. Second, I was using my brother’s camera (which was unfamiliar to me), since mine won’t turn on any more. Third, there was lots of fog between me and the bird. But I don’t have many eagle photos, so I will post this one anyway.

Juvenile bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Juvenile bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)


I think this one is about a year old. At this age, they are even larger than their parents, which is something I learned while I was down there. They don’t get a lot of exercise as their parents feed them, and they eat a lot. Here’s one of the parents.

Adult bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Adult bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Their nest is on an island in the river, and there is a bluff on the other side. When the youngsters were born, people could go to the top of the bluff and look down into the nest. That’s pretty cool. My uncle told me how to find the nest, and I did go out and see it. Talk was that they had another brood in the nest, but I couldn’t tell. But I also didn’t go to the top of the bluff either.

Here’s a shot of the trout dock.

Red River Trout Dock

Red River Trout Dock


I took this one in the afternoon (or late morning, or maybe in the evening). This was after the fog had burned off.

I took this one on Friday morning.

Rachel, Beth, and Dad

Rachel, Beth, and Dad


I was paddling up to their boat when Rachel took the photo of me that I am now using in my banner. Her shot is better than any I took myself during the whole trip.

On Friday afternoon, Beth and I set out for Conway to see Beth’s friend and our former next door neighbor, Haylee. We got to spend four or five hours with her, her siblings, and her mother, and then we drove back to the trout dock.

On Friday evening, I took my memory card out of my brother’s camera and gave it back to him. I was sure glad he loaned it to me. Then on Saturday morning we went down to the dock at the crack of dawn and he helped me get my canoe in the water. Unfortunately, when he did this, he leaned forward and is camera slipped out of his shirt pocket and landed plop in the water. We fished it out with a long-handled fish net, but his camera is now toast. I felt really bad for him, as I kinda know what it’s like to have a broken camera! His might eventually come back, but that seems pretty unlikely to me.

It was on Saturday morning that I saw the most wildlife. I saw the eagles again, as well as two deer, a Canada goose, and a beaver. That was a lot of fun just watching them. I took out around 9:00am and started packing. Jonathan and Beth got back from fishing shortly after that, and we put on our church clothes and found the Heber Springs Adventist Church. It was pretty small! Including the three of us, attendance was 16 that morning. But it was a very nice service, and the people were quite friendly. I was glad we got to spend some time with them.

After the service we changed clothes in their bathroom, and then headed back to Dawson Springs, KY. Beth and I found a geocache in Missouri on the way, which is our first and so far only MO cache. We also collected an Arkansas geocache near the dock on Friday when we drove down to Conway.

The drive back to Dawson was long and uneventful, but I think that’s a good thing in a road trip!

Tonight I ordered a Canon SX150IS. That is pretty similar to my broken and well-used SX110IS, so I think I’ll like it fairly well. I went ahead and had it shipped to my parent’s house, so maybe I’ll get to post some photos again in a couple of days.

This is the first time in a week I’ve had time, energy, and an adequate Internet connection to post. I’m a tad low on the energy, but I’ll do what I can to at least give an initial report.

We’ll start with this photo my niece Rachel Gogel took of me on the Red River at dawn on Friday. I think it was Friday anyhow.

Me on the Red River in Heber Springs, AR

Me on the Red River in Heber Springs, AR


I liked it so much I made it my new header photo, but you have probably already noticed.

Beth, Jonathan, and I arrived in Dawson Springs Tuesday evening. We stayed at my parents house, and got up pretty early Wednesday morning so we could drive to the fishing hole in Heber Springs, AR with my parents, my brother Mike, my niece Rachel and her fiance, and my Dad’s brother Dallas. It was a long drive, but it was also pleasant!

When we got there, I went to the store with Dad to buy some groceries. The generators were running at the dam, so the river was up. Dad doesn’t like to fish when the river is up (it’s a lot harder to catch fish then), so he opted to not go out the first evening. Beth was disappointed, because she was going to go out with him. I unloaded the canoe and carried it down to the dock, and the two of us went out.

Everyone seemed alarmed about me going out on the river with it up like it was, but it was pretty trivial compared to the rivers I have run in the past. It really didn’t present much of a challenge at all, actually, and I was able to paddle upstream without too much effort. It was a nice paddle, and we came in before it got dark and had some supper.

In the morning we got up at 5:00am and had a quick breakfast. Then everyone was on the water by 5:30. Here’s Beth and Jonathan with Dad getting ready to go out.

Jonathan, Beth, and Dad

Jonathan, Beth, and Dad


This was Beth’s first fishing trip. Everyone was pretty well convinced that she would be bored with it pretty quickly – if not in ten minutes, then certainly within an hour. But that did not happen. She went out and started catching fish – and she was hooked.

I do not like to fish, so I got in my canoe and had a nice paddle. I went almost all the way up to the dam (which was about three miles). I turned around when I ran into a bunch of fishermen at a little riffle. I could have attained the riffle, but then there were several guys with lines cast across the river, and I didn’t want to cross them (the lines, or the fishermen). Also, I don’t like to have an audience when I attempt to attain a riffle.

Fishermen below the dam

Fishermen below the dam

I turned around and headed back downstream. It was a magnificent paddle! Over the course of the stay there, I saw a pair of otters (a first for me), a muskrat, two deer, a pair of bald eagles and their two chicks (which were larger than the parents), a couple of hawks, several great blue herons, countless swallows (exact species unknown), and trout.

Unfortunately, my camera has finally given up the ghost. It will no longer turn on. My brother very generously offered me the use of his though, and I gladly accepted. So I will be sharing some photos as the week progresses.

But right now, I should probably get to bed!

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