December 10, 2011

May 13, 2010

Sioux City Ruined the Internet

I live near Sioux City, IA, now known as the city that ruined the Internet, as said on Tosh.0 on Comedy Central. An indescribably lame video was put on YouTube to "sell Sioux City" to people.
You just have to see for yourself.

The video was so bad that they have now made T-Shirts saying that "Sioux City Ruined the Internet" and this story was put on the front page of the newspaper 2 days in a row! This video has had over 100,000 views.

February 26, 2010

Northern Minnesota Adventure: Day 1

Getting only three hours of sleep probably isn't the best way to start an adventure but I just couldn't get my mind off of the trip that was about to ensue. I was laying in bed, waiting for 4am to come around but it was still an hour away. I tossed and turned and couldn't get back to sleep. I knew I shouldn't have stayed up to watch the Olympics! Anyhow, I finally decided I would get up and start getting ready to leave since I wasn't going to be falling asleep anytime soon. After getting breakfast and packing up the things we almost forgot, my dad and I headed out to put our stuff in the truck. There wasn't much going on at four in the morning and the only thing up besides us seemed to be a pair of Great Horned Owls which made their presence known by their constant hooting from down by the creek.
My dad and I said our last goodbyes to mom and we were on the road, constantly getting closer to Great Gray Owls and Spruce Grouse. We were heading to northern Minnesota! As we crossed into Minnesota, the sky began to brighten a little, revealing the landscape to us and waking up the birds. It wasn't long before we saw flocks of Snow Buntings flying up off the roadsides and a number of hawks, including Red-tailed and Cooper's.
We passed through Mankato, and the Twin Cities and finally made it to Duluth at 1:00pm. We watched the countryside transition from the windswept prairie, to the deciduous forest which soon transitioned into a mixed forest with spruces and pines mixed in with birches and aspens. We were in the north woods and it didn't take long before we saw Common Ravens, a bird more typical of these woodlands than Iowa. Coming over Spirit Ridge on I-35 we saw Lake Superior and Duluth unravel before us, 700ft below. After stopping for a picnic lunch at a nice rest stop overlooking the city, we headed down to Canal Park. We saw no gulls or waterfowl there since the lake was frozen solid. We headed up the north shore a little ways and found that the lake was unfrozen once you get past Duluth. Here is a photo of Lake Superior's north shore near the French River.
Our destination for the afternoon was Two Harbors, a nice little community right on the lake. We were pleasantly suprised to find a number of gulls there with several Glaucous and even a Thayer's mixed in with the more common Herring Gulls. The only Thayer's Gull that we saw there was nice enough to fly over so I could get a photo of it.
We drove through town a little bit and were glad we did. Although there were no waxwings like we were hoping, a cooperative group of White-winged Crossbills was foraging in a spruce tree. There was excellent lighting which made for a nice opportunity to get some photos. It was fun to watch them expertly extract the seeds right out of the cones. Here is a female bird.We happened to run across another birder in town who gave us directions to a staked out Northern Hawk Owl just a couple miles away. We saw the bird but didn't get any nice shots.

After that we headed back to Duluth to go to church and to get a good nights rest so we could bird more the next day.

The next post I do will be on our journey up to the Sax-Zim Bog and around Duluth. I should be posting it in a couple days.

February 16, 2010

Off to the Northwoods

My dad and I are going to leave for northern Minnesota this Wednesday morning and will be gone through Sunday night giving us three full days of birding along Lake Superior's north shore and in the boreal forest that harbors many unusual bird species. This area has long been a popular birding destination and has drawn birders from far and wide. The photo above was taken last year on our winter trip there. I am going to try to see lifers such as Iceland Gull, Great Gray Owl, Spruce Grouse, and American Three-toed Woodpeckers since I missed those in 2009. On the way home I will try to get my lifer Varied Thrush and American Black Duck in Iowa. Another birder from where I live is coming up too so we will be able to go birding together. Make sure to check in on Monday of Tuesday next week for the story of my Northern Minnesota adventure.

January 11, 2010

The Quiet Forest

Here is a short poem I made today as part of a Literature test. I thought it was nice enough to put on this blog, which so many nature-lovers follow.

The Quiet Forest
A Poem By Tucker L

“I took a walk in a forest so calm and so still
There were no noises, perhaps it was ill

I listened intently but didn’t hear a thing
But then a thought inside me began to ring

Perhaps there were things here both big and both small
But I had not the ears to hear them at all
So I decided to look on the trees so tall for those things which were so small

On the bark I saw many bugs crawling along,
I listened and heard them singing their song,
So quietly scuffling their way up the trees.

Perhaps this forest was not ill at all.

It took not long to find a bee buzzing by,
And a pair of doves cooing in the trees so high.
A mouse scampered by and the fleas followed with

Perhaps this forest was not ill at all, but maybe it was me.

Maybe I was the one who was ill, the one that detached my own self from the things of the trees, and, immersed in music and movies, drowned out the faint call of the wild, which was whispering as quietly as a small child, telling me to take a look into these things which most of us nowadays have been unable to see.”

January 1, 2010

Last of 2009 and First of 2010

Last night while driving to Sioux City I saw an owl fly over the road in the fading light. I watched it as it coursed over the farm fields out of sight and finally identified it as a Short-eared Owl. This bird was the last one I saw in 2009. I usually don't keep track of the last bird but I couldn't help but notice this one.

The first birds of 2010 were nowhere near as eventful as the last bird of 2009 was. The first three birds I saw were as follows-Rock Pigeon, House Sparrow, and European Starling! Talk about a bummer. Too bad a Varied Thrush wasn't around :-)

I took a short trip to the creek near my house this afternoon and saw some better birds than the ones mentioned in the paragraph above. A good number of hardy Mourning Doves were flying around a cattle farm along with the usual Eurasian-collared Doves. As I was watching the doves a Cooper's Hawk sure got things stirred up.

I am going on a Christmas Bird Count tomorrow and can't wait to see what shows up there. I am going to have to dress warmly since the low tonight is going to be -23 degrees farenheit and it is only going to "warm up" to -3 for the high!

Once in a Blue Moon...

The moon last night was called a blue moon. This does not mean that it was blue but that it was the second full moon to occur in a one month period. They occur every 2.5 years but only every 19 years does one happen on New Year's eve. I got this picture of the blue moon from my yard last night.

December 29, 2009

Feeder Watching and Christmas Bird Counting

With all of the snow recently, going out birding is a bit impractical since most good birding spots are along gravel roads which do not get plowed to often. Instead of risking my life on the hazardous roads I have just been doing some birding around my home and have found some nice birds recently. The best was the Tufted Titmouse which is a rare bird where I live. To read more about it go to this link which is to a past blog post about the bird:
A lot of birds have been drawn to the feeders because of the storm including Common Grackle, Red-winged Blackbird, and Brown-headed Cowbird. I wouldn't be surprised if a Rusty Blackbird showed up but none have visited yet.
An American Tree Sparrow (the first at the feeders this winter) was feeding with the juncos this morning. One of the juncos was cooperative enough for me to get a nice picture of it.

Away from the feeders in the yard I saw some pheasant tracks. This was the first time I have proof that there was a pheasant in my yard. I have found feathers before but they may have blown in from somewhere else.

Before the storm I saw 32 Eurasian-collared Doves in the neighbor's tree. Not all birds are in the photo but it gives you a good idea of how many there were .Also before the storm I went on the Sioux City CBC. I wasn't out long since I had some other things to do that day but we did pick up 25 or so species including the Northern Shrike below.
This Eastern Cottontail was also seen on the CBC and posed nicely for a picture.
I really don't have time to keep blogging today (I have somewhere to go) so I will have to call that good for now!