April 1, 2015
I got the seedlings started in the greenhouse a
couple days ago, and we have some overwintering peas as well as some
spinach and rhubarb coming up outside. The old squash has gotten
to the point of going directly to the chickens, the apples go directly
to applesauce, but we're still eating potatoes and carrots from last
year's garden. The home canned green beans have been a popular
new oldtime innovation for us this winter.
Meanwhile we walked along the ridge tonight and saw
new flowers now open, including prairie stars, glacier lilies, balsam
root, and shooting stars, so Spring is bustin out all over..
We had an Easter egg hunt in our back yard for the 3 of us, including
Butters. Actually I tossed out a handful of his kibble for him to
hunt for... We both hid around a dozen eggs and some
chocolates, then took turns trying to find them and remember where we
hid them when they didn't all turn up. Butters joined in this
part of the hunt also, finding an egg which he licked the food color
off of, and several wrapped chocolates which I was able to remove from
his soft mouth before he ate it (chocolate can poison dogs). As
usual there is an egg or two outside unaccounted for (although one was
found later turning a brighter turquoise in the dye cup)
The weather service won again, and we got snow mostly through the day
today, about two inches which mostly melted down to a half inch of
slush... For an hour or so it was a classic winter
reboot... Didn't do any garden work today... But I think
some broccolis are coming up in the green house...
We went for a walk along the new trail along the lake, ended up cutting
up a ridge and walking on a logging road for a goodly distance.
We saw this bird, which we'd also seen in our yard, a Townsend's
It's not all that striking, but fairly rare... The 2 inches of
snow had vanished except from the darkest shadows. Dwarf
waterleaf and shooting stars were added to the many Spring flowers now
Here's a nice bunch of shooting stars.
It's a great time to walk around in the woods... At the
urging of some of my family members, I joined ebird.org, a site from
Cornell University where birders report where and when they see
different species, and quantity of each. It makes our walks a
little more studious, with lots of notes and binoculars and my camera,
but it may be helpful as citizen scientists to document the plight of
various bird species, and also by checking other local reports alert us
to good places to go check out the birds...
Although common, I seldom get a nice photo of a red breasted nuthatch,
but I did get this one as the weeping willow leaves emerge in our front
We were transplanting strawberries again yesterday, starting over
again, from what used to be a productive June crop. We
won't get any June berries this year, but an everbearing area will
yield later through the summer...
I was looking at the Google Earth view of our neighborhood when I saw
this, which resembles crop circles or an earth art project:
It's about 3 blocks from our house on the old mill site, and is the
remnants of the roundhouse where they turned around the train engine
for the trip back to Spokane. The little grey circle is a
Google artifact, but the larger one on the right is the base of the
watertower that supplied the mill, and probably the steam engines. I'm
not sure about the green circle at the top, but I'd guess it collects
water over a cement or other hard surface since it's greener than the
Speaking of greener, the property below the pottery has just had a
major partial clearing, changing the view of passersby, with many
locals asking what I know about it. I did talk with the owner but
he asked us not to reveal his plans, so mum's the word...
Butters and I did the 3 mile Empire Trail today (me with bicycle
assist, walking it about half way, when it went uphill or too fast or
curvy downhill). I intended to bring a pen pad and write down the
birds, but lost the pen before leaving. There was an eagle
circling as I started, which I thought was a golden, but was probably
(as I later photographed) an immature bald eagle. We also flushed
a couple grouse... There were three cars parked at the trailhead (M41),
but I never saw anyone on the trail. Bicycling is not an ideal
way to bird, since you pretty much have to watch the trail all the
time. But it was great to be out, in spite of the cold windy
This afternoon Butters thought another walk was in order, so we went
around the side of the Mill Pond. I got this poor
photo worth noting because of the sticks the eagle's trailing for
I also saw this accipiter circling, but couldn't identify it...
On the way back, I heard a cry
like a young girl squealing, and located the source--an immature bald
eagle, 10 yards away in a snag...
Here it is finishing its lunch...
The fact that it was eating explains why it didn't spook as easily as they usually do...
Spring is a great time to see raptors. Here are some photos from
Q'emiln Park in Post Falls, the Rathdrum Prairie, and Spirit Lake:
Red tailed Hawk?
Two red tailed hawks? I'm bad at identifying hawks...
I guess April is bird month this year. Here's a pair of ring-necked ducks on the Mill Pond today:
Now that we're interested in identifying ducks, there are many new
varieties... I used to guess they were mostly mergansers...
We walked a part of the new bike trail that is still being worked
on--not good for bikes yet but easy for us experienced
bushwhackers. A large moose had trod the trail recently.
WSe saw the first Calypso orchids and wood anemone, still waiting for
the camas blossoms...
This year a lot of the Spring flowers are nearly a month ahead of average:
Here's syringa, the Idaho state flower.
Here's a nice cluster of shooting stars, that have been increasing locally...
Here are some Minnesota bird photos, mostly just good enough for identification:
White throated sparrow, my mother's yard.
Yellow rumped warbler (thanks Susa) with the great clarity like that associated with the Loch Ness monster:
mystery bird the size of, and hanging out with sparrows. Veery?
immature white crowned sparrow.
Before I had a decent telephoto camera I never would have guessed there were all these other kinds of sparrows around...
Before the month disappears, here are some photos from the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge last week:
ring necked ducks
April 28 Another day in Minnesota, more
birds You can see this one singing, and hear its song at the
youtube link below. Looks like a sparrow but they don't usually
have the bold voice...
This one was in the tree in front of my mother's house. I thought
when I heard it that it was a wren, but it's not holding its tail up.
Here are the Minnesota varieties of trout lily and anemone... The
forest undergrowth is lush but the deciduous trees are just leafing,
making it a lot easier to see birds than in a couple weeks.
Books read and other media of note:
Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey (unrevised edition) As
the notes say, 106 films were based on Zane Grey's writing, so he was
king of the western. This iconic novel stays off balance
throughout, with love triangles and religious and moral
ambiguities. By modern action standards, it's a snoozer, and the
action often happens "off stage." Still, it's a classic, and worth rereading...
Spade and Archer by Joe Gores I
enjoyed rereading this as much as I did the first time. Gores
captured the era and aura of the classic Sam Spade original...
Robert Parker's Blue Eyed Devil Short on morality, but long on philosophy, Cole and Hitch continue to live up to their own code of the west.