Monday, April 28, 2008

This mortal coil

Everything was proceeding as normal today until about 10AM. Then word arrived that a co-worker had died suddenly this past Thursday. We were not close, but I can truly say every conversation was pleasant and, when the time was right (i.e. I had work in the vicinity), anticipated. For someone as such to suddenly not be there, especially someone slightly younger than I, leaves me reeling. Not so much as close friends or family, to be sure; the void is, however, tangible. One's own mortality is felt. Best enjoy life while it is here, to have and hold and cherish no matter how bad a day is.

God be with you, KSM. Those moments of camaraderie will not be forgotten.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ah, spring...

...NOT. Final total was 5 inches of extremely wet snow, which we sat and watched all day yesterday. I do admire all the folks participating in the big Brainerd Lakes Marathon yesterday; this is probably why the major area roads were well plowed.

Visitors to the feeders yesterday included numerous sparrow varieties and some Yellow-rumped Warblers, all looking for whatever food they could find. A couple photos from yesterday will complete this entry.



Thursday, April 24, 2008

Just shoot me now...

Well, figuratively, of course... This weekend I will be headed north to Ma's, where anywhere from 1 to 6 inches of snow (depending on the weatherman you heed) will be falling. Enough already! Can't fight the big City Hall in the sky, I guess.

Work is like I never left (as typical everywhere these days). And of course every project is the highest priority a project has ever been. Enough already! After two weeks of quiet blissful repose listening to bubbling creeks and babbling birds, the company lunchroom Babel is just too much.

The real "killer" here: I work alongside numerous very beautiful women. Just when the spring outfits were coming out of mothballs, back will come the parkas... ENOUGH ALREADY!

Note to self: less whining...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Weekend banding highlights

Some photos from this weekend's bird banding sessions at Lowry Nature Center near Victoria, MN and Mr. Neil's near Menomonie, WI. Photos taken by ace volunteer and photographer Amber Burnette.

Female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)


Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla)


Male Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)


Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe)

Friday, April 18, 2008

My stay at Cabin 5

Cabin 5 is one of the guest cabins at Powdermill Nature Reserve, operated by Carnegie Museum of Natural History. It is a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) cabin from the 1930s, but currently with full amenities. It was a trifle too cold during my stay to be on the porch, but the setting is lush anyways:



Outside the cabin were growing some lovely spring flowers (I think they could all be classified as woodland ephemeral but don't quote me), including these delightful (dwarf?) trout lilies:



Meanwhile, at the banding station across the main road, Puppy Mulvihill waited for the action to commence:



As Bob Mulvihill shared his passion for birds and the environment with the students outside:



For anyone interested in bird banding or just visiting a great natural area, Powdermill is truly wonderful, "in the heart of Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands" near Ligonier (see, I read those brochures).

I will be having my own bird banding sessions the next couple days, one at Carver Park and the other near Menomonie, Wisconsin. Hopefully the weather clears just a smidgen!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A quick check-in

Just stopping in long enough to say Hello again from the land of the big bad bloggers. One thing I did learn on the trip is to not change airlines at ORD (Chicago's O'Hare, that is). But if you are in need of exercise and have some time, then walking from Concourse B to Concourse K (and even my gate K1 is basically Concourse L) is well worth it...

Also I must right away give many Thank Yous to my Powdermill hosts Bob Mulvihill, Pam Ferkett Mulvihill, Bob Leberman, Cokie Lindsay and David Smith; you all made this frozen Northerner feel welcome (so welcome I brought the weather with me...)!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Changes of plans

Or perhaps not, but one sometimes tries to make contingencies. This is a direct result of all the problems at American Airlines, which I heard yesterday might still be doing these lovely wiring bundle inspections for the next two weeks. My Thursday return flight from Chicago is on American (the other three legs are United). So what I did:

1) bought a one-way from Chicago to Minneapolis via Northwest (a $133 loss if I don't use it, but oh well...)
2) reconfigured my packing for Powdermill so that everything can be carried on. Clothes might be a trifle stinky by Thursday, but again oh well...

At least the weather has broken somewhat. I wasn't even sure this latest storm (13" at Ma's Nisswa townhouse) would allow eastward travel. Of course, I haven't left yet...

I doubt I will have Internet access the next few days, so talk to y'all soon. Enjoy spring if it ever gets here! I leave you with a photo of my favorite sitting spot on the San Pedro River near Sierra Vista, AZ.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

If public TV and radio can do it...

For those interested, concerned, etc. about the birds and related biodiversity of Southeastern Arizona, please consider a donation to the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory. Even a little can help...

Close encounters

A most interesting last couple days, both with friends Tom and Sheri and with the trip home. I will explain the latter first.

I wasn't even sure I'd make it home today. Not because of weather or other factors (the flights were pleasingly dull), but because of a surprising snafu in these days of heightened security. I got to Tucson airport quite early (7:30AM for an 11:00AM flight) because Tom and Sheri were both busy. I arrived so early, in fact, that the early flight to Denver had not yet left. I handed the agent my photo ID and my checked baggage and received my boarding pass. Went through security without a hitch. Was sitting quietly at the gate when I decided to look at my boarding pass to see what seats I had. To my surprise, the name said "BRUCE NELSON". So much for sitting quietly... Thankfully once the gate agent appeared at 8:30 everything got straightened out. But how could two sets of people, especially TSA who saw the pass and my photo ID, miss this? And how did I miss it until being at the gate? For a few brief sweaty-palmed moments I thought I'd be staying in AZ longer than anticipated, and not in a hotel... As a positive, I did receive a seat on the earlier flight.

On a more fun note, yesterday had wonderful times out traveling. In the morning I went with Sheri to both the San Pedro River and Huachuca Canyon. In the afternoon I went with Tom back to the Sulphur Springs Valley for another shrike banding attempt. This, thanks to volunteer mouse "Norman Bait" (Tom's pun, not mine), we were a trifle more successful:



This was one of four Loggerhead Shrikes (Lanius ludovicianus) trapped, banded and released. Two were a probable nesting pair and one was a nesting female (found the nest with at least two eggs). Considering what's happening with this species, let's hope for a successful season. For those concerned, Norman is alive and well.

At Huachuca Canyon, I happened across this resting-but-alert Whiskered Screech-Owl (Otus trichopsis):



And before I become a little owly myself, time to say good night...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Vacation smidgen 1

As noted before, I will be able to do just smidgen of blogging during my time away. Sheri has generously loaned me her laptop for said purpose. Having a wonderful time so far, and am providing a few photos for your viewing pleasure. The first is from today's fun but unsuccessful attempt at shrike banding. The other two are from my trip to the San Pedro River yesterday. Enjoy!


Thursday, April 03, 2008

To Bisbee and beyond!

The "slog" is finally over. Work awaits but it can all wait. Finally for some fun with Tom and Sheri, then back here, then to Powdermill, then back here. Two weeks of non-working bliss; I will do a smidgen of blogging but not much (sorry, I'm not the "must always be connected" type). With my best imitation of the Nature Boy, WWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

WHAM! POW! OOF! part 2

On a much lighter note than below, I think someone should start a groundswell for a presidential run by Ric Flair in 2012. At least the State of the Union Address would be much more entertaining than these days. WHOOOOOOOO!

WHAM! POW! OOF!

...and all those other terms from good ol' Batman. Just when you're approaching the end of the tunnel, and you can see no freight train ahead of you, someone sucker punches you. And that's all I can say without burning bridges. Friday and the following two-week vacation can't be soon enough.