Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Scream

We have had the second most precipitation in April on record, and it appears there may be more in store by the time the month is over.  Many of us are about ready to scream, from the cool temperatures, lack of sun and water in our basements, etc.   Pictured at left is an abstract from our front steps, featuring a water droplet and decking screws.

While the excessive rains are an inconvenience for many, I'm sure area farmers are growing concerned about whether or not they will be able to get their crops planted in a timely manner.  Last spring was also wetter  and colder than normal.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dark-eyed Junco in the rain

We're getting inundated with rain these days, with seemingly no signs of a let up. This Junco sat patiently on a branch before heading to the bird feeder for some sunflower seeds.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Pond art in the park

I think that the design made by branches, along with their reflection in the pond, created an interesting image.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Pick up your ground

I heard from a number of Facebook friends that they regularly carry bags with them on walks to pick-up garbage when they inevitably find it along the way. One person suggested we start a movement to encourage others to do likewise.  We can call it "Pick up your Ground".  The participants would be encouraged to "Conceal and Carry" trash bags when they are out and about.  Want to join the movement?  No membership fees required, just do it.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Signs of spring

After a longer than usual winter the green grasses are starting to appear.  Pictured above are some of the grasses growing along Bassett Creek, highlighted with the morning's dew.

At right is a kite that was eaten by a tree in the park.  Let's hope it is made of a material that is recyclable, not plastic, otherwise it might soon end up floating in the pond nearby and be a long-term unwelcome addition.

Friday, April 25, 2014

More trash

I grabbed the camera yesterday afternoon, looking for the possibility of something interesting to picture at the park, when I noticed my pond clean-up work was far from over.  So I grabbed some bags instead and picked up loads of litter along the pond.  Just in one 50 yard stretch I hauled in over 40 plastic bottles.  It was particularly disturbing to see a muskrat's home entrance on the banks of the pond practically blocked by loads of trash.

In observing the litter I'm increasingly in favor of a ban on polystyrene cups and take-out containers.  It would also be good to see a 5 or 10 cent deposit on plastic bottles.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Earth Day 2014... not pretty!

Earth day trash pick-up
I was saddened to see just how much litter had collected on about 100 yards of the pond's shoreline at Bassett Creek Park.  What disturbs me most is the wasteful one time use items such as polystyrene coffee cups, that might have a use of 5-10 minutes, and then be discarded. After being tossed it may take nearly an eternity to decompose.  There is also considerable up front environmental cost to producing such throw away products.

Pictured at left is the trash I was able to pick up in about an hour and a half yesterday.  I would encourage all to do your part in cleaning up the environment and lobbying for less use of styrofoam and other such disposable products.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Great Blue Heron Fly By

Yesterday morning, while at Bassett Creek Park I took a little extra time to simply watch the wildlife.
Much to my surprise a Great Blue Heron flew right by me on its way to Bassett Creek.  What an amazing site it was.

In honor of Earth Day (today), I'm planning to pick up some of the garbage in the park and along the streets that I walk to work.  I invite you to consider doing the same, as you are able.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pussy willows in the fog

Yesterday morning's fog made for a beautiful backdrop for the pussy willows at Bassett Creek Park.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

American Goldfinch

Until leaves develop on the trees this goldfinch doesn't have much of a hiding place. It is in its molting cycle, with white plumage complementing the yellow and black feathers. You can read more about the annual plumage cycle of a male American Goldfinch on the Sibley Guides website.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Robin and crabapples

There are quite a few crabapple trees around the park.  I used to wonder why the birds didn't eat all of the crabapples in the fall.  Then I realized they waited for the spring when there wasn't much else around until they chose to enjoy the "low hanging fruit". Perhaps the fruit ferments a bit over the winter months?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Wood ducks on Bassett Creek

Yesterday's snowfall made for a scenic backdrop for this lovely pair of wood ducks on Bassett Creek.

You can read more about wood ducks in a StarTribune article: "Wood ducks: Minnesota's most colorful waterfowl." 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pussy willows and geese

A sure sign of spring is the blossoming of pussy willows.  Despite unseasonably cold weather, it appears spring is coming.  Hopefully to arrive by Easter!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Red-brested Merganser and Ring-billed Gulls

On a trip over to St. Paul I walked around Como Lake and enjoyed seeing a Red-brested Merganser and some Ring-Billed Gulls.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Budding out

Spring is finally starting to arrive, and some of the trees are starting to bud out.  It's a beautiful thing.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ice shapes

I'm always fascinated by the various ice shapes and contours when the pond melts back into its fully liquid state.

Friday, April 11, 2014

How about 10 cents a plastic bag?

Loved reading an editorial in the New York Times suggesting that retail and grocery stores charge ten cents per plastic bag, "Ten cents a bag, That's about right."  Given how many of these bags find themselves littered throughout our landscape, and that they my virtually never be fully decomposed, this seems to be a step in the right direction.

I would also like to see a ban on polystyrene, commonly referred to as styrofoam.  These cups and take out containers also have a very short time of use, but potentially a lifetime littering our landscapes.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Return of the Great Egret

Great Egret
Gulls and Hooded Mergansers
The Great White Egrets returned to the pond at Bassett Creek park.  It is nice to welcome them back.  The ice has rapidly melted over much of the pond already.  Hooded Mergansers have also been making a stop on their journey northwards.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Seed Savers Exchange

I'm excited to have planted some vegetable seeds from the Seed Savers Exchange, just outside of Decorah, Iowa. These are heirloom seeds that have been passed down for generations.  You can learn more about the Seed Savers Exchange on this three and a half minute video by co-founder, Diane Ott Whealy (video link).

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

In all things moderation

As a former marathoner I read with great interest an article in the StarTribune, "A growing body of research suggests excessive running can be dangerous".  Seems that the sage advise, "in all things moderation" still rings true.

In addition to the concerns about overexercising the author also pointed out that for every person who endangers their health with extreme exercise there are 19 people not getting enough exercise. With age I have become a great believer in the value of walking and cross training.

Recently I had the "ultimate"week of cross training, which included many walks, yoga, cycling, boot hockey, running and ultimate frisbee.  Truth be told, I may have overdone it just a bit. Lots of fun however!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Incoming Canada Goose

This Canada Goose made an impressive landing near it's mate on the pond at Bassett Creek Park yesterday.  There is a good reason they've got the "honker" nickname.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

How does our national budget reflect our values?

It has often been said that if you want to find out what someone values, take a look at their check register to see how they've been spending their money.

How does the budget proposed by Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin reflect his values?  As the House Budget Committee chairman he proposed a budget that would dramatically cut Medicaid and food stamps, while also repealing the recently enacted Affordable Care Act.  His budget would also increase spending for the military by about $483 billion through 2024.  Additionally he would cut federal subsidies for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  The Clean Technology and Strategic Climate Fund would be eliminated as would subsidies for Amtrak and the AmeriCorps program.

To read more about his budget proposals visit the New York Times article, Ryan budget would cut food stamps and medicaid deeply

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Red-winged Blackbird

The red-winged blackbirds are back in the park and chirping away. They like to stretch out their wings when they call to their friends and or enemies.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Street gutter

While walking home from work I noticed the ice that formed along the street gutter was highlighted by the sun and water that had formed from the melting snow.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Great Blue Heron ice fishing

Despite the snow and ice, a Great Blue Heron managed to find a bullhead for lunch yesterday at Bassett Creek Park.  The bullhead may have been killed from the thick ice that formed over the winter, reducing the amount of oxygen available.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Canada Geese pairing up

It is that time of year when the Canada Geese are pairing up.  I'm guessing they must also be eager to see the thick sheet of ice melt on the pond at Bassett Creek Park.