Sunday, June 26, 2022

Off to College

Around 2011 I began collecting a few Harris Hawks for falconry.  I had fond memories of the little bird I trapped during my year in Texas for the 2009/2010 season, and hoped to experience the same only in different forms.  It all started with Sassy, who was a most excellent bird that I was able to acquire from another falconer who was reshuffling her priorities to focus more on goshawks. 

In 2013 I arranged to purchase a male captive-bred hawk from Oregon. My plan was to form a cast, or two hunting birds flying together, which is a unique trait with Harris Hawks.  I had just begun to get the team going, and then the season ended.  Unfortunately, in July of that year, the little male I had purchased died suddenly, leaving me with just Sassy again.  Some fellow lady falconers must have heard my sad tale, and in September 2014 I was contacted and asked if I would like a little 'hand-me-down' hawk.  That is when Bam-Bam entered my life.  I very quickly changed his name to Flint, as I hoped to bash him into shape to be a better bird, a hunting bird.  He came with known aggressive tendencies. 

I would go on to form a cast with Sassy, who was a much more dominant female, and put Flint in his place. I would later refer to them as "Team A". When they were flown together she took the initiative and did all the work. He was not much of a team player. During their season flying together, he never caught any game on his own. He was just along for the ride.

In October of 2015 I trapped Wyvern from down in Texas. I quickly began to focus more on what I would call "Team B", that is Wyvern and Sassy flying together. If I ever flew Flint with the girls, it was usually just chaos. He was more of a hindrance than help. More and more I would not bring him along for a hunt, nor did I often hunt him alone.

In March of 2016 Sassy died suddenly of an accident. She was a most fabulous falconry bird!  I've had none other like her. This brought me back to just Wyvern and Flint. I would try to work on "Team C".  In the fall of 2017, before Wyvern was ready to fly, post molt, I flew Flint on his own, and he would catch the first and only bunny of his career. 

First Catch

I would continue to attempt to get "Team C" going, but Flint took a dominant attitude with this much younger and inexperienced female, and she would not assert herself, even though she was bigger.  They would catch at least one bunny together, but continued flying them together was just a headache, and Flint was the trouble-maker. This eventually earned him the bench. 

The Cast 

Over the last couple years I have recognized that Flint really needed a new job, a new placement. It has become a running joke with a couple of my falconry and education friends, trying to pawn him off, but it was only half-joking. He may not be a great hunter, but he was my longest kept Harris Hawk, and I didn't want to give him to just anyone. When I released Wyvern back to the wild in 2021, I thought about trying to work with the little dude one more time. He had sat idle in his mew for too long. Then a new opportunity presented itself.

I was contacted by Flint's first owner. She had donated a bird of her own to a small wildlife sanctuary in West Bend, Wisconsin. She wanted to know if Flint was still in my possession, and would I consider sending him there as well. It seemed an answer to my little problem. But first, he had to have a health certificate and permission to enter Wisconsin. I set him an appointment with the Raptor Center in St. Paul. My husband caught this little video snippet to record his sad little chirps when he is cast. 


With a clean bill of health, I arranged the final details to transport him to his new home. 

I recorded a last video in his mew, tied to a perch so I could easily catch him, to remember just how much of pain in the rear end he was.


On Thursday, June 23, 2022 we drove the four hours from our home to the Shalom Wildlife Sanctuary in West Bend and delivered him to his next life chapter. 



He will be housed next to the female Harris Hawk previously donated, with the hope they may eventually get along enough to be caged together. He was a little freaked out, understandably, when I removed him from his giant hood and took the last of his equipment off. However, after we got to drive around the zoo, and returned back by where he is caged, he had calmed down, and was making his quiet contact calls.


I hope life for him as an education bird, being "off to college" as it were, turns into an OK life for him. I look forward to hearing how things work out for the little dude.  With his departure, I am now Harris Hawk free.  My plans for now are to focus only on the current Red Tail dragon that is falling apart in her mew, putting in her new adult feathers. I look forward to the upcoming season, focusing on only the one bird.

Good Luck Flint!

Saturday, May 21, 2022

North Carolina and Renewed Friendship

Sometime in the 1970s, in El Paso, Texas, at the church I attended, Northgate Baptist, I befriended a girl my age named Kathy. I don't remember exactly when it happened, I just know we have been friends for a very long time. We grew up together in the church, seeing each other on Sunday mornings, and Sunday evenings, and Wednesday evenings (Baptists go to church a lot). She was my Bestest Bud!  Today the kids would call us Besties. We even made nicknames for each other. She's the only companion of mine throughout all my school years that I had the pleasure to get invited to her house, and invite her to mine. We attended different schools, but that didn't matter. We went to church camp together at Aspendale, just outside of Cloudcroft, New Mexico. We were friends throughout Elementary, Jr. High, High School, and for a short time after High School as we began to navigate being adults. We each got married, and went off on our life paths. We would connect a couple more times (this picture below sometime in the mid '80s). We spoke a few more times on the phone, then with time and distance fell out of touch with each other.  

At the beginning of this year I had a premonition. It would turn out that it was a year old premonition. I wondered about her, and her mother. I used "the Google" (as she would call it) and saw that her mom had passed away last year, 2021, almost a year to the day I searched. No Google search would find any trace of my friend. It turns out that she keeps a pretty low profile on the Web. However, I did find her son, Kyle, this cute little tyke in her arms, now all grown up and a father himself. I said hello to him on Facebook, along with a couple pictures (this one below, and some of Kathy's wedding pictures) that only a friend would have, to prove I was not some random weirdo. He got us in touch with each other. We spoke on the phone, but I really wanted to connect in person. Previously I had requested my birthday week off from work, and had been granted the time. I could not think of a better birthday present to myself than to be re-united with my friend, who now lives in North Carolina, just outside Raleigh. I purchased tickets, and looked forward to the trip.




It did not seem like years had passed, some time over 10 since we had talked, and certainly more than 25 since we have seen each other.  We fell into an easy interaction, like we had only said goodbye recently, except now she is a Grandmother. 

I would be a guest in the home of her son and his wife, as she is currently living there. It would be my birthday, but I decided to have a "Hobbit Birthday" and brought gifts for everyone else. Her grand-daughters below are checking out some of the gifts. They all made me feel very welcome and comfortable in their home. Upon picking me up from the airport, we joined her family for Red Robin Hamburgers, and later drove to a couple of produce stands to score some fresh local strawberries for shortcake later. We got to bed late, but would be up early for a road trip on the day of my actual birthday.


The picture below was taken on the day I left, but I wanted to include it here as it is a kind of "full circle". Kathy has planted a memorial garden for her mother. Life had arranged itself that she was able to return to El Paso during the last couple years of her mother's life to live with her and be her caretaker. In fact, they were together during the worst of the Covid outbreak, both catching it, but being able to recuperate at home. Kathy is incredibly thankful that she was able to care for her mother, and make it possible for her to remain in her home until she passed.


The next morning, my birthday, we were up early and on the road, headed to the coast. Our destination was Beaufort, North Carolina, where I had reserved an AirBNB. I hadn't realized that Beaufort is a very historic town. We would discover that as we explored around the town. Making our way, we first drove by where Kathy works, at a Doggie Daycare. She would go on to show me lots of pictures of cute doggos and puppers that she has met while working there. The drive gave us opportunity to catch up with each other's lives.


Of course, there was food!  I enjoy seafood, very much, and would try to have as much of it as I could while there. I realize now, after the visit, that I never tried their famous shrimp burger. I guess I will have to put it on a wish list and visit again. We had lunch at a quaint tavern in Morehead City called the Ruddy Duck. The clam chowder was delicious.


As was the Yellowfin Tuna with melted Brie on brioche.


My friend had a salad with shrimp, but sadly I did not take a picture of her meal.


After lunch our 2:00 check-in time had arrived. However, we were distracted on our journey back. Well, I was distracted. As we drove back on Ann Street I noticed a very old and distinguished-looking cemetery. I suggested we stop and check it out. It turned out to be The Old Burying Ground, the original site for interring the dead of Beaufort going back to the early 1700s. Many of the earliest graves are no longer marked, as either wooden markers or even shells were used, and have since disintegrated with age. Most of the monuments dated from the mid to late 1800s into the early 1900s. There are a few sporadic recent burials. I found it interesting in that many of the monuments were in a style very similar to the graves marked at a small cemetery located right across the street from where I live in Minnesota. Many of those graves are also mostly from mid 1800s to early 1900s. What was not similar was the layout.  Whereas the Sinclair Ridge Cemetery across from my home is orderly, the Old Burying Ground is laid out in no recognizable order, with pods of graves randomly mish-mashed about. It made for an interesting walk around.   


A written guide was available at the gate. Much later, as I researched a little for this blog, I found that you can also pull up a walking tour on a cell phone, as well as purchase a tour presented by the Beaufort Historic Society. Mostly, we just walked around and looked at the graves. Significant ones were marked with numbers that you could read up on in the brochure.


The vegetation was as old as many of the graves. Great oaks towered high into the sky, some with wisteria that was already past flowering and gone to seed. Many of the graves were marked with a kind of table monument, most totally unreadable now. Often, great conch shells adorned the graves.


As we rounded the edge of a church on one of the corners I spotted the grave below. I was immediately curious about the story for it. I asked Kathy to read what was in the brochure, which did not provide nearly enough information. Why were all the toys and trinkets on the grave? I suspected there may be a bit of a ghost story, and was not wrong about that suspicion. It is really best to simply link to a site that tells the story. The grave marker simply says: "Girl Buried in a Rum Keg". Here is more of her story, as well as more information about the site.



As we approached and overlooked the little Rum Keg Girl's grave, there was a small beach ball up against the grave. Almost on cue it started to move and roll around with the wind. Well, maybe the young lady was kicking it around for us.

The following link is a walk through that someone recorded. The time of year indicated on the video is within days of when we were there, just some five years prior, so the feel of the walking tour is exactly how we experienced it. 


This great oak towered over the back portion of the cemetery.


Kathy and I took a selfie to send to someone who had messaged me and wished me a Happy Birthday while we were in the Old Burying Ground.  Saying "HI" with graves behind us.


After our walkthrough we could check into our room for the night. It was located just a couple blocks more East on Ann Street in the historic neighborhood of Beaufort. Just about every house had a placard that identified it as a historic landmark.  Our hostess even left me a birthday card and some beautiful flowers to enjoy. Picture below is of flowers. Book is just one that was in the room that I had heard of and looked at while there. 


The room was simply beautiful in a historic inn kind of way. There are some more pictures below. A map of the waterways adorned the wall. We settled our bags then changed into our bathing suits and headed to the beach.


When I mentioned to Kathy that I would like to come visit, she suggested to go to the Coast, and listed several beaches. I picked Beaufort because it was very close to one of her suggestions, Atlantic Beach. It was a very pleasant day, 70s, without the sun right overhead.



To sit on the beach was very nice. We walked along the water's edge and picked up some shells. The water was still quite cool, and fairly sticky sea water. I passed on getting more than my feet wet, but she went full on swimming. 


Proof!  She was always much more daring than me. I see that hasn't changed at all.


I did pocket a few shells to take home. I observed they were somewhat unique from shells I have taken from other beaches in that many were almost sandblasted smooth on the edges. I did find this branching of sea plant, and posed it on a rock, and fortunately took a picture quickly, for right after that a large wave hit and washed everything away.


We sat out on the beach for several hours, then headed to our home for the night, needing to get to our choice of dinner location before it closed at 8. We opted to take our meal to go. 


More Fish!!  This time with fried okra (yummy), broiled shrimp, scallops and perch, with a loaded baked potato. 
I never felt the slightest hungry on this trip, at all.


Kathy was enthusiastic about her dinner too.


Here is a view of the room, with rooster on the bed. You can see at one time there used to be a fireplace to keep the room warm. It was a section of the historic home closed off for guest use, complete with a private, modern bathroom. Our hostess has outfit the room with every convenience and many very thoughtful touches.

We shared the bed like we had so many times when we were kids. I think I talked her to sleep.


Outside our door was a large and blooming jasmine bush. Kathy noticed and commented about it as soon as we arrived. Our hostess informed us of the identity of the vine. Time for another selfie.


On the next morning I took pictures of some of the other homes on Ann Street with beautiful flowers blooming in front of the fence.


We decided the next day to drive down Atlantic Beach road and re-enter on the connecting bridge on the far end. Arriving back onto the beach strip we stopped at a surf shop and got souvenirs. Me for Rich, a hat, which I would borrow for the day, and Kathy for gifts for her family.


Arriving at the end of the barrier island, we opted to grab lunch before heading back inland and circling back to her home. Of course, more fish!  The Fish Hut Grill looked like a great place to eat. Here I got my only alcoholic drink on the trip.


Fish Bites were VERY tasty!!  I wish I could have food like this at home more often. Mine were fried.


Kathy's were grilled, with a side of ground steak.


The Fish Hut was friendly for dogs, several relaxed under tables as their people had lunch. Several jets flew overhead. I really don't know where they came from, as there are several military bases nearby. After lunch, we headed back inland.


Kathy has lived several places in North Carolina for quite a long time now. She is familiar with the backroads and sites. On our journey home she decided to take me by the Brock Mill and Pond. A new fishing deck has recently been constructed. It has its own web page with a pretty nice video of a fly over with a drone. Click the link to check it out.


It was a bright, sunny afternoon. I thought this view across the pond was quite beautiful with the reflected trees and sky.


Returning to her home that evening, we decided to have a final meal of authentic North Carolina barbecue sandwiches, which are made marinaded with a vinegar-based sauce with a little sugar and red peppers, with more of this sauce on the side. Of course, there was also abundant sweet tea. I grew up drinking a lot of tea, but not quite as sweet as they like it in the South. There was also a banana pudding, which I was told was iconic for the area. I ended the evening showing some of my videos on YouTube to her family, and talking a little bit about falconry.

All too quickly, my four days came to an end. It was so very good to reconnect with my childhood friend. The invitation was given, and I hope can be accepted, for her to come see me later this year at my home. I have a couple weeks off in October. That month I should be well into hunting with my hawk, and it will be  trapping season, which can be so much fun. On Friday morning, after a stop for coffee, she got me to the airport to catch my plane home. 

Thanks for the wonderful visit Riverdale!

I would make the first flight jump to Chicago, but then had an 8-hour layover. I had previously arranged for my friend Darla to break me out of the airport and go spend a few hours together. This was my view out the window as we flew back into land from over Lake Michigan. If you click the picture you might be able to see the Chicago skyline just under the tip of the wing.


My Illinois friend has been talking up her favorite chain of pizzerias, Lou Malnatis', almost as long as I have known her. Rich and I did go out for some of the same, but in downtown Chicago, quite a few years ago. Click HERE if you would like to read that posting from April 2009. There must be several locations. This one was in the general neighborhood where she grew up.


Whenever we get together, she tells me that we need to get some REAL pizza, which to her way of thinking is Chicago Deep Dish. As you can see below, it is quite thick. One piece will most likely do ya well, but since I could not take leftovers with me, I had two.


That day, Friday the 20th, was dubbed National Pizza Party Day. Well, we finally had the pizza party she has been wanting to share for a long time. It was a bit much, as I exaggerated below.


In her own words, her adamant endorsement:


After our lunch, I requested and she acquiesced to take me to the cemetery where her father is buried. He passed away over a month ago. Her Uncle Joe also died very recently. I met him in 2007 in Door County. Quite a character!! They are both buried not far from each other, in the Mt. Carmel Catholic Cemetery.  This is a very large cemetery mostly dedicated to the Catholic Italian population. As we drove through there were many extremely elaborate and expensive mausoleums, as well as a massive structure which can only be called a palace in the center where the local Catholic Bishops are buried. There was also a very special grave that Darla wanted to share with me. She would not tell me who it was until we got there.


It turned out to be the Big Guy, the original Scar Face, Uncle Al himself, Al Capone. He has a notorious fame, even now. He was somewhat of a Robin Hood kind of figure for many poor Italians or recently bankrupted back in the 1930s. He certainly cultivated that image, whether or not it was true. During the depression, despite running the violent Outfit, the crime mob in Chicago, he sponsored soup kitchens, as well as funded milk distribution to children, or so the legends relate. There are more than enough videos out there about his life. If interested, you can watch a few and decide for yourself. To this day Darla says a fresh flower is laid on his grave every day. Below you can also see gifts of cigars and someone left him some whiskey. It was a rather humble family burial for such a famous (infamous) person.


After paying my respects to Darla's father and uncle, and Uncle Al, we began the slow progress to the airport. I wondered if we would pass an Italian bakery on our way. A quick Google search found one just a couple blocks from when I searched. When in the Chicago Italian district, one needs to have a cannoli! Hers was chocolate dipped. Mine was covered in pistachio dust. It was fantastic!! It would have been nice to bring one home to Rich, but it has a cream inside that needs to be kept cool, and there was still many hours until I would be home. Besides, I did not know if it would get confiscated by TSA. Turns out, they didn't care. Instead, I brought him an assortment of kolache. Those did not need to be kept cold.
 

Get in my stomach you cannoli.
 

After our Italian Bakery diversion, Darla got me back to the airport.

Thanks Darla for the adventurous afternoon!!

The remainder of the afternoon was sitting at my airport gate waiting for my flight. I would not arrive to Rochester until about 9:45 pm.  Rich was there to pick me up. 


Me giving him a kolache kiss, for taking care of everything so I could run off to North Carolina for several days.

Thanks Rich!!



Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Sunset




Patricia A. Hanson

March 17, 1942 - April 28, 2022

Patricia was born March 17, 1942 in Mabel, MN to Andrew and Nola (Sherburne) Newman. On May 28, 1960 she married Cletus Hanson of Spring Grove at the Mabel United Methodist Church. They lived and farmed in the Spring Grove area. Patricia worked at Tweeten Nursing Home in Spring Grove as a Certified Nursing Assistant and later as a Licensed Practical Nurse. She enjoyed playing euchre, collecting antiques, crossword puzzles, history and genealogy and spending time with her family and friends. She enjoyed several trips to Norway to visit family there.

Patricia passed away Thursday, April 28, 2022 at her home following a lengthy illness at the age of 80.

Patricia is survived by her husband Cletus and five children: Debbie (David) Giblin, Brian, Sherri (David) Reutlinger, Alan, and Richard (Carolyn); grandchildren Hillary (Phil) Grodevant, Megan (Jesse) Lyon, and Laura Reutlinger; great grandchildren Eli, Ada, and Brooklyn Lyon; a sister Phyllis (Tom) Holven and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents Andrew and Nola, a sister Marilyn (Ted) Barz, a brother Peter (Jan) Newman, father and mother-in-law Baldwin and Helen Hanson, and brother-in-law Donnie Hanson.

A memorial service will be 2:30 p.m. Saturday, May 14th at the Mabel United Methodist Church. Burial will follow in the Mabel Public Cemetery. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church. In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested to the Houston County Historical Society or the Gundersen Cancer Research Fund in honor of Patricia.

 Mengis Funeral Home

Thursday, April 14, 2022

All Those Nest Cams

BALD EAGLES:

Decorah North (all out soon)

https://www.raptorresource.org/

Eagle Country (these kids have left the nest now)

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1dI46fKIO2W3D3IU01KwZw

Big Bear (this kid is gone too!)

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsFgbVuhRrPV5FqyN7kOD8g

Gabriola Island (hawk in nest!?)

Eagle Nest Cam – Growls


A Link for a Fan!!

https://wizardpins.com/blogs/education/all-about-bald-eagles


RED TAILED HAWKS:

Cornell

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZXZQxS3d6NpR-eH_gdDwYA

Presidio  (See-ja!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpodMEEfz-Q

Syracuse

https://thecollege.syr.edu/alumni/nest-cam/

Columbia

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2EpiW2XqQfDK3dq6ZM2v9w

NJIT: Honors Roof Hawk Nest - YouTube


GOSHAWKS:

Estonia

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCN8196-VuPxsUBzCLgwVUfA

Latvia

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNFjjG0GLRA

Norway

NestkastLIVE

Scotland

https://youtu.be/uz9qzqyCSwU


FERRUGINOUS HAWK

Ferruginous hawk - ACA (ab-conservation.com)


RED SHOULDERED HAWK

Red Shouldered Hawk Nest - YouTube


WHITE TAILED EAGLE:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhNN6dlEMgw


GOLDEN EAGLES:

Bucovina

https://youtu.be/ZxwaZ1-YXTY - Never nested, maybe next year!

Estonia

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kdcx9ZCPvls


LESSER SPOTTED EAGLES

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mbEJCpM13Q


EASTERN IMPERIAL EAGLE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlZa4mHDL1U


RAVEN

https://youtu.be/A4Z4ZPyEWuY

Krummi (byko.is)


Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Byron

All too quickly the falconry season comes to an end. It pretty much ended for me late in January. The month of February was just so cold, and with work commitments, and my aversion to going out into single digit temperatures I did not get to fly Seneca much more. She's a good bird, and I plan to intermew her, and fly another season with her. I should set up her lights and push the start of the molt so we can hit the ground running as soon as the small game season opens in September.


 This was the last bunny we caught, in my favorite location in Byron. This location is a good one, but seems to be accumulating barriers to using it much. I'll just have to judge it each season, and hope to not have any more run-ins with locals.  Seneca definitely knows what rabbits are. She has not shown any knowledge or desire for squirrels. Maybe she just has not encountered them. I tried, but didn't give her many good opportunities. Perhaps next year.