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Brad's Blog

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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..

April 5
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)

April 6
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...

April 8
  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 Solitaire:

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 blooming.
 

April 9
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...

April 11


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 yard.
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 surroundings...
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...

April 12
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 weather. 
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 nesting:


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...

April 15
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:

Turkey Vulture

Red tailed Hawk?


Two red tailed hawks?  I'm bad at identifying hawks...

April 19
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...

Wood anemone

April 22
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...

  April 26
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:





cowbird


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...

April 27
Before the month disappears, here are some photos from the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge last week:
ring necked ducks

western bluebird
tundra swan

gadwall 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...


https://youtu.be/Jqzs3WnKVjM


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.


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