KEEPING WATCH - ITS ABOUT TIME
HOME POND — 3/12/2014
Walking past the back door this morning I noticed a Canada Gander standing on the ground not twenty feet from the door. He is a new guy with a striking white neck band. I considered his bold behavior and headed upstairs to look out onto the deck. Sure enough, standing by the nest box that I had yet to turn upright and fill with fresh bedding was a lovely Canada Goose. I decided to risk it and opened the door to go out on the deck to turn over nest box and add five gallons of yellow pine shavings. The goose jumped up on the deck rail but not fly away. I kept a low profile to avoid frightening the flock of a couple hundred geese who had stopped by for an bite to eat and some morning gossip on the pond. Having completed my work I came back into the house and it was not 15 minutes later when I looked out again and there she was in the nest box busy making things right.
There was another pair looking at the front step yesterday but they seem to be a bit concerned about the level of traffic at that door.
It will be interesting to see if the new gander on the ground rises to the occasion and takes his perch on the deck rail which has become the classic look out over the years.
It must be time to be thinking about some new names.
SNOW GEESE PLUS
Over the last couple of days as the spring migration is taking off we have seen flocks of thousands of Snow Geese and hundreds of Greater White Fronts, and thousands of Canadas along with 14 Cackling Geese . There have also been maybe a couple thousand Mallard Ducks come by along with a delightful mix of other ducks to spice things up a bit to include American Widgeon, Wood Ducks, one Canvas Back, Scaup and Pintails.
So why do I fuss over the extirpation of the fall flights of Snow Geese from Iowa? Because Iowa has no restraints in place to stop the exodus of either the spring or fall flights at any level short of the total extirpation of the Snow and the smaller Ross Geese from Iowa and the DNR is close to getting the job done statewide in the fall.
Hunting pressure in the refuges on white geese is going to be increased again next year. Why? I have no clue, but the effect is to make sure there is no welcome mat for any white geese that drift into Iowa. The hunters' trophy Snow Goose will be the last Snow Goose to migrate down the Upper Mississippi through Iowa in the fall. It should be a wall mount preserved to remember the folly of reducing the range of a species at the same time that its population is bursting at the seams in other states. Retired Iowa DNR waterfowl biologist Guy Zenner told me years ago that he certainly did not care if the last Snow goose to attempt to migrate down the Upper Mississippi was shot by a hunter with a 20 bird bag limit. As it stands it is only a matter of time.
3/7/2014 A FLOCK OF DOVES
This morning there was a record flock of Mourning Doves in the front yard. Apparently the dove hunting season is not doing serious damage to our local population. But still I think that Man shoots doves not because of what they are but because of what We are. They are weed seed eaters after all and Man ....? a critter that kills for fun even those critters who work for him. What a wonderful place this world is in its capacity to reveal us to ourselves. Choices!
3/2/2014 A FORECAST FOR SNOWS - GEESE THAT IS
Well I got my computer back. It is better but... it just froze up again AND again . So what now?
Any way... back again, the fall flocks of Snow Geese have been driven from the "refuges" across the state - from the 7000 visitors of Port Louisa on the Mississippi to the 500,000 at Desoto Bend on the Missouri, they are gone and nobody in the DNR has done anything to reverse the decline.
Gone - as in year after year now not one respectable showing has occurred at either "refuge".
This past fall Joy and I enjoyed more of the white visitors on Joy Lake, right here in river city, than we could expect to see on a fall visit to either of the aforementioned federal refuges. We had 6 Snow Geese that stayed for 2 weeks. That was amazing really when You consider that there is an open season on the birds that extends from before the first goose can be expected to show up in the fall until the last one can be expected to disappear in the spring with a bag limit of 20 birds. The numbers are simply a cover for the fact that all the stops have been pulled out and there is no effective protection for the birds in the state even as they are disappearing from the skies of Iowa.
Mean while the DNR staff spins their pet theories ever so carefully around their dedication to the extirpation of the fall flocks of Snow and Ross Geese from the State of Iowa.
Why are the fall flocks leaving Iowa? When I ask Iowa waterfowl "managers" they start talking about Canada. And in that they are careful not to talk about the trapping of the natural predator par excellent of the white geese, the egg eating Arctic Fox, whose fur is being shipped to China as prices soar. Yes, Canada has a problem, they are allowing the foxes to be trapped and the numbers of the geese to explode.
But I am talking about the conservation of Iowa's Snow Geese. If You talk to anyone who wants to make the case for the current "management" of the fall flocks of Snow Geese in Iowa let them know that I am ready to publically or privately meet with them and debate the issues. Keep in mind, I am talking about the conservation of Iowa's Snow Geese not the mismanagement of the Arctic breeding grounds.
I too appreciate there is a spring migration of Snow and Ross geese across portions of the state that for the moment continues to be impressive. There is however, no expression of dedication by the DNR for their preservation.
The total extirpation of the Snow Geese from the skies of Iowa waits only for those spring flights to find a relatively better route to take north. As hunting pressure on those birds increases disproportionately in Iowa compared to surrounding states due to the high hunter to habitat acre ratio in the state - we can only expect the spring flights too will find a better Way.
I find this whole scenario to be unbelievable but You must realize that I thought the wholesale neglect of a species of migratory waterfowl in Iowa was a thing of the past.
Just another one of my illusions transformed into disillusionment by a head on collision with reality.
2/13/2014Buddy's World in Pictures
Perhaps You remember that Buddy, our young and lonely bachelor swan who loves Joy and hates me decided to contest the Old Man's claim to his Lady. The Old Man essentially pleaded no contest and sought cover in the protection of some willows. For weeks there after Buddy was lord over the pond. Then come Valentines day, the Old Man, as if coming out of a droggy spell of some kind, abruptly said enough and ran Buddy off the pond. We did not get to witness the event but Buddy has been seeking refuge in the front yard during the day ever since. It was nice to learn that Buddy is still open to the idea of a girl (pen) friend and we have decided to redouble our efforts to get him one. It would be nice to have him courting a pen instead of picking fights with me and displaying for Joy.
LIVING MEMORIALS TAKE FLIGHT
In 1994 as Fire Chaplain Mychal Judge offered the closing Our Father prayer at the burial of critically burned New York Fire Department captain John Drennan, a Monarch Butterfly silently settled on the flowers beside the coffin and closed its wings.
On “Amen”, it spread them again and fluttered off into the sunlight.
Seven years later the Fire Chaplain, along with a dozen of the firefighters who had gathered at Drennan’s grave that day, were themselves killed at the World Trade Center.
In the immediate aftermath of that attack, thousands of Monarchs just beginning their annual journey south fluttered through the smoking ruins of the World Trade Center, their autumn colors brighter still against the smoke and ash.
“Souls,” one firefighter softly exclaimed.
Today the migrating Monarchs need our help. Among the people already growing milkweeds is Justine Drennan, the youngest daughter of John Drennan.
For some time, Monarch Watch has recruited amateur trackers to help it monitor butterfly populations and document the migration. The organization is now also asking volunteers to plant milkweed, most particularly in Texas, where the first wave of the spring migrants lay their eggs, but also everywhere the migrating Monarchs venture.
Seeds and instructions for planting milkweeds can be obtained via the organization’s website, www.monarchwatch.org.
Edited from and read more @ http://news.yahoo.com/last-flight-monarchs-104500542--politics.html