Who are we? We are our stories.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Butterflies, Birds and Beer

(The three Bs)

The weather seemed to come and go, so after lunch we did too - to the World Birding Center on South Padre. We parked next to a patch of Blue Mistflower which was covered with butterflies, primarily Queens, Monarchs and Fiery Skippers. I was there for birds, not bugs, so I ignored most them, took pictures of a couple of Buckeyes and a Phaon Crescent before hitting the boardwalk over the wetlands.

Northern Waterthrush
Snowy Egret
Reddish Egret White Morph
Cooper's Hawk
I keep promising myself I will not take or post any more pictures of Roseate Spoonbills, but their colors keep getting more intense and they keep raising their wings to say, "LOOK AT ME!"

Then we went to Padre Brewing Happy hour for $3 beer and a second lunch. A "little lunch" as my grandparents would say. They were world class lunchers.


Thursday, January 23, 2020

The News From Lake Wobegon?

Our primary residence is the neighborhood of Oakwood in the city of Albert Lea, Minnesota. 18,000 folks, but it is a small town. Yes, we do have terrible drug problems and the crime it causes, but still the news is often .... well, small. But I do know the cat.

Many are wondering: Where is the Seed House cat?
Employees hope cat is safe after being picked up earlier this month

Published 8:48 pm Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Albert Lea Seed House employees are asking for any information about their beloved cat Crouton who was believed to be picked up outside of their business earlier this month. Seed House employee Emily Brummer said the cat was taken Jan. 7. She said Seed House employees talked with Albert Lea police, who interviewed someone who said they had picked up a cat matching the description in the vicinity. It is unclear, however, whether that person still has Crouton or if he was let go.

Brummer said Crouton was brought to the Seed House at least eight years ago by Tom Ehrhardt, co-owner of the business, who had him for a while before that. The cat, who has gray fur with some swirls of a cream color, was initially brought in for mouse control, but quickly became a mascot of sorts. Crouton is often featured on the Albert Lea Seed House Garden Center Facebook page and is often around when customers come into the store. The business also has two other cats who have been through the trap, neuter, return program for additional mouse control in the warehouse. “I think most people understood he was part of the business,” Brummer said.

Crouton was reportedly taken from the Seed House on Jan. 7. Crouton could come and go as he pleased — he knew how to trigger open the automatic sliding doors at the front of the building and enjoyed spending a lot of time in Garden Center Manager Mary Boorsma’s chair. “Customers really liked to come pet him,” Brummer said. Though he liked to do things on his terms, the “friendly but fiesty” cat was respectful of the machinery and had adapted to his life there.

A large cat, he weighed between 14 and 15 pounds and had a chip in his left ear, Brummer said. He was neutered and vaccinated and was not wearing a collar. Brummer, who fosters cats and kittens and is involved with the trap, neuter, return program with the Humane Society of Freeborn County, said the incident has affected her personally. She said she is worried about Crouton’s well-being and said she feels like the situation has gone on longer than it needed to. “Our main concern is that he’s safe,” said Mac Ehrhardt, Albert Lea Seed House co-owner. He said though the employees would love to have Crouton back, they just want to know that he is safe and well cared for. 

They asked that people keep an eye out for him in the event he was let go, or if someone still has him, they can drop him off at the Seed House — no questions asked. Anyone with information should contact the Garden Center at 507-377-2372.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Birding Update

We have been doing light birding every day. The best was Wednesday when we drove up to Weslaco. Actually we drove all the way to the Breadsmith Bakery in McAllen, two hours for four loaves of bread.  Then we returned to Estero Llano Grande where we reconnected with a number of old friends and went to eat at Nana's with Bill and Cathy Mauck. After eating we returned to Estero for the guided butterfly walk.

The other days have been just a walk through the World Birding Center or over to the Convention Center.

Today dawned cool and windy, but the sun broke through and it looked as if it would be stellar day. As it was not a yoga day Lorna wanted to get in some morning birding and we headed to the WBC. The weather turned on us a bit, the sun vanished and the wind off the Gulf picked up and cooled more if anything. Still it was bright enough that the photo shots on the open Madre were tough, at least I never got dialed in really sweet - but still okay.

There seemed to be a lot of shots of Roseate Spoonbills, not a favorite bird of mine, but certainly fan favorites. 

And now to one of my favorites, a Clapper Rail.

"Did you go birding?"   "No, I was railing."

I could not make out this Rail in the cover, but Lorna could see the wing pattern through the grass and talked me to where it was. Just as I found it it stepped out for a three foot run to hide again. I was on it thanks to Lorna.

Serving the public, chasing birds so you don't have to. - Gunnar

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

South Padre Walk With Carol and Tom

People keep listing a King Rail on the daily sighting board at the World Birding Center. I keep seeing rails that I want to be a King Rail (which would be a life first), but they still all seem to be Clappers. Either I don't recognize it or I lack imagination.

Living life in the pink,

Monday, January 13, 2020

South Padre Island Group Shots

It is a very hazy day. We took a walk down the Convention Center boardwalk after a Tex-Mex lunch in a refurbished filling station with Lorna's sister Anita and John.

They are not birders, Nita could be - John is frickin hopeless, but he is a good sport about it all.

Pied-billed Grebes. About that many under the surface too.
- Gunnar

Friday, January 10, 2020

Charlie's Clapper Rail

We were out with Charlie and Francine McPherson this morning - birding with Charlie, walking with Francine. She enjoys looking at birds, but seems not to care a nickle what labels humans have hung on them. Maybe her pleasure is purer? 

Normally Clapper Rails are sulky birds that we only occasionally get a glimpse of. This one seemed to be following us, stepping out into open in at least four separate locations. One would think that with four opportunities I would get an amazing photograph. You would think. No matter, these were good enough, but more importantly, it was a "life bird" for Charlie, the first time he had actually seen one. That is always exciting. 

- Gunnar in the Wind

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Boardwalk today

... some more pics taken before the Mimosa Warbler.

- Gunnar

Mangrove Warblers

I was going to tag this as a Mimosa Warbler, not because they were in a mimosa tree, but because they were taken from the deck at the World Birding Center on South Padre Island after drinking a couple of quite strong mimosa drinks for a fund raiser. The bird showed up unexpectedly (at least to me). A couple of the photos may have actually been taken still seated at the table - taken "in the field" so to speak. Trading drink for camera I rallied to my feet and made my wobbly way to the railing, trying my best to hold myself camera steady. "Here, hold my drink." *click*

Last year I took a couple of I.D. quality photos of an immature male Mangrove Warbler, a very rare bird by location. One of my goals this year was to get better photos of a mature male and female Mangrove Warbler. Today, day two "in the field", I took photos of a mature male and a first year female Mangrove Warbler. I guess I should just ice the camera and kick back for a couple of months. Or until tomorrow.

Mangrove Warbler first year female below, I.D.'d by WBC naturalist Javier Gonzalez.

Thank you Javi for all your help over the past years.

- Gunnar

Friday, January 3, 2020

South Padre Day 2

We met Lorna's sister Anita and John, joined by brewmeister Mark Haggenmiller, for a two hour lunch at Padre Brewing. Lorna left with Anita and John and I went on to the World Birding Center hoping for photographs of an adult male and female Mangrove Warbler - a real long shot. I have almost three months to work on that.

The tide was high, it was mid-afternoon, so not much was about and the light was really harsh. So a fellow named Bakke from Northfield, Minnesota and I mostly just talked as we strolled the boardwalk looking for a warbler or any rail. None.

I shot a few photos along the way that seemed interesting at the time.

After I returned to John and Anita's house I checked my emails. Lorna's purse containing driver's licence, check, medical and credit cards had been found in front of Padre Brewing and they were holding it for her. Things could have gone very badly; instead we owe an unnamed stranger free beer for the season. It was also nice that the owner of the pub happened to have my email address. It was lost, found and returned before we knew it was missing.

No stress here,