Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Would you believe birds?

It seems like it has been a long time since I posted about birds. Such is the middle of summer. It gets hard to find new birds for my list. I did finally manage to creep up to 120 birds this week.

On June 20th I added two birds. I added the clay-colored sparrow and a blue-winged warbler. I was one of the few people at work that day and no one had gotten the mail yet so I hiked out to the mailbox. I spotted a blue-winged warbler along the driveway on the way to the mailbox. Rule number one. Always bring binoculars, everywhere.

On the way back I cut through the prairie/savanna restoration and could hear the distinctive call of the clay colored sparrow. Paul had taught it to me earlier in the month and while I had heard it everywhere the actual birds had eluded me. Sitting on top of a big slash pile was a little brown bird. With my binoculars I thought I could tell it was the one singing. I crept closer and sure enough it was the clay-colored sparrow.

The nest week was the first week of summer camp and I lead a trip of kids down the St. Croix river. The first night we heard but didn't see a whip-poor-will. The second night we camped out at Goose Creek and a pair of sandhill cranes flew right over our heads. They landed on the opposite shore to eat. We got a great view. As I remembered, the goose creek campsite is thick with American redstarts and the wood thrushes were singing beautifully from the woods. The second morning (June 29th) I arose early and birded along the quiet shore as mist lifted off the water. I saw another blue-winged warbler but there was another bird hanging out with it. I finally got a good luck and to my delight it was a golden-winged warbler. There was another misc. vireo about that morning. It looked like it was probably a red-eyed vireo but I'm going to hold off on counting it since I didn't get a great look.

Bird 120 was a pleasant surprise. I don't get to add many birds to my list from my treeless suburban back yard. I've done a lot to encourage birds including feeders and a new pond. The improvements have brought in cardinals, robins, house sparrows, chickadees, goldfinches, and chipping sparrows but I kept on saying where the hell are the house wrens! I have two next boxes up that would be suitable but I don't so much as see a single sign of the wrens. Then, just the other day (July 15th)there were two of them hanging out on my back porch and playing around in the mulberry bush. Believe it or not they were the first ones I had seen all year. I really hope they see what a nice place my yard is and decide to stick around.

Woo hoo, 120 birds. I'm going to beat last year.

117 Clay-colored sparrow,
118 Blue winged warbler
119 Golden-winged warbler
120 House Wren


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Something Skinky

While out in the bog with the kids in the photography class I'm teaching we found a skink at the last minute. We didn't have much time before we had to be back to the building but I managed to snap a quick picture of this elusive creature. Most people don't realize that we have lizards in Minnesota and might mistake a skink for a small snake. We actually have three species. We have the five-lined skink, the northern prairie skink and the six-lined racerunner. I am pretty sure this is a northern prairie skink.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Open Letter Calling for Impeachment, Conviction

This is the full text of the letter I just sent to my representative in the House of Representatives, Betty McCollum.

Dear Representative McCollum.

This evening I learned that President Bush commuted the jail sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. In doing so he insults the Congress and circumvents the independence of the judiciary. While he has the right to pardon as President, he must also answer for the actions he chooses to take.

While I have not called for it in the past, I now request as my representative that you draft articles of impeachment for George W. Bush as he is not fit to be President of the United States and has certainly committed "high crimes and misdemeanors". I ask that you do so in a timely manor so that the Senate can vote to convict. I believe you would be able to secure a simple majority of representatives to support this effort.

The President and his staff intentionally misled and defrauded Congress with regard to invading Iraq in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. He also conspired to commit torture of prisoners in violation of the "Federal Torture Act" Title 18 United States Code, Section 113C. He has also openly admitted to ordering the NSA to illegally wiretap American citizens in violation of Title 50 United States Code, Section 1805.

These are all impeachable offenses, in fact, violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 113C is actually punishable by death so it surely qualifies as a "high crime."

Your predecessors in the House impeached President Clinton for far lesser charges and I ask that you do your duty to begin the removal of an unfit, criminal president who flaunts the laws of our country and believes he and his friends are immune from the law.

That's my letter. Where's yours?

Next up, a letter to my Senator asking to convict when the articles of impeachment are sent to the senate.