Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Years!

Graphic compliments of Anne's Place

May all your hopes, wishes, and aspirations for 2008 come to pass.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

2008 Calendar iv

The last of the calendar photos

Spirit Lake, Iowa

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At the entrance of one of the campgrounds at Pawnee Lake SRA

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Taken at Wildwood Lake

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Friday, December 28, 2007

2008 Calendar iii

Onward and upward with the calendar photos

Taken at Pawnee Lake SRA

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American White Pelicans taken at Merritt Reservoir, just south of Valentine

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Upland Sandpiper taken at Valentine NWR

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Omaha World Herald Article

I checked in on the Nebraska hotline this evening. For some reason, I had never added a link to them in the sidebar. I have now corrected that. Anyway, there were some posts over there about an article that ran in the Omaha World Herald on Christmas eve. A couple of the regulars on the hotline were quoted.

From the article

Shortages of some seeds, nuts and berries in Canadian forests and along stretches of the Rocky Mountains are pushing northern and mountain birds farther afield, ornithologists say.

As a result, species of birds not typically seen in Nebraska and Iowa are showing up more often at feeders - and more varieties could be on the way.

The tiny red breasted nuthatch and the purple finch already are being seen in greater numbers than is normal, said Walker and Joel Jorgensen, a bird biologist, both with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

In the Nebraska Panhandle, the mountain chickadee is showing up more often, said Ross Silcock, an amateur ornithologist who compiles seasonal reports for Nebraska and regional birding publications.

Such shifts in a bird's territory are called irruptions, and the birding community is heating up with talk about the possibility of a notable irruption across a wide swath of the U.S. this winter.

Christopher Wood of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology said a food shortage in the Rockies has contributed to what may be the largest recorded irruption of mountain chickadees into the Plains.

Matthew Medler, science coordinator for the Boreal Songbird Initiative, said northern U.S. states, from Minnesota to Maine, already are seeing signs of what could be a major irruption.

How much variety birding enthusiasts in Nebraska and Iowa will enjoy this winter depends upon the weather and food supplies here and elsewhere, Jorgensen said. "I wouldn't call it a major irruption yet, but it's been pretty decent. These birds are very nomadic."

Guess the prediction I cited in this post is holding true.

2008 Calendar ii

More of the 2008 calendar photos

Pink Dogwood taken at the University of Nebraska Arboretum in Lincoln

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Taken at Ft. Niobrara NWR, and yes those clouds turned into quite a thunderstorm!

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Western Grebe taken at Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area in Kansas

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

2008 Calendar

I decided to do a calendar with my photography for the year of 2008. The friends that received copies were very complimentary. Thought I would feature the photographs I selected over the next few days. Some may have been already seen on this blog.

Abandoned house taken on my trip to Valentine in June

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Prairie Dog taken at Ft. Niobrara NWR

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Peter Cottontail

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas!

This beautiful gingerbread house was made by the cook staff and residents at the retirement facility where my mother lives.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Update On Funding For Wildlife Refuges II

Again from Refuge Watch

According to a press release from the National Wildlife Refuge Association:

Last night, the Senate joined with the House and passed an omnibus-spending package for FY08, rolling eleven spending bills into one, including Interior. The package includes a critically-needed increase for the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) with proposed funding at $434 million, $39 million more than last year. “This increase is a shot of adrenaline for an ailing Refuge System,” said Evan Hirsche, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. “Chairman Dicks and members of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee gave the Refuge System a holiday gift that will keep on giving.”

…Over the past four years, refuges have had flat or declining budgets, forcing each Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Region to implement strategic downsizing plans calling for a 20% reduction of the workforce nationwide, equating to 565 jobs. The Refuge System needs at least $15 million annually to keep up with the rising costs of inflation and, without it, refuges have been forced to close, while visitor programs such as environmental education have been sharply reduced.

There are things in the budget that none of us like, but at least there is one thing to cheer about.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Update On Funding For Wildlife Refuges I

On November 28 I posted about potential cutbacks to funding for National Wildlife Refuges. At the end of that post I exhorted you to call your elected officials and protest those cutbacks.

Today Refuge Watch posted, in part, the following

The National Wildlife Refuge Association — a nonprofit organization that acts as an advocate for the Refuge System — has just sent out an email alert that offers a promising update on the Capitol Hill budget deliberations:

This morning House leaders announced an omnibus spending package which included funding for the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS). Proposed funding for the NWRS is $434 million, a $39 million increase over FY07!

Thanks to your diligence and hard work, Congress has answered your calls for increased funding — and while perhaps not as high as we had hoped and advocated for, this is truly an enormous win in light of these tough budget times. However, there are still hurdles which must be cleared before the President signs this bill.

The House is expected to vote either tonight or tomorrow with the Senate following shortly thereafter. The Senate will add more spending and it will go back to the House for final approval before being sent to the President.

Please urge your U.S. Representative and Senators to support this bill –
the funding for refuges will likely mean a second round of refuge downsizing will not be necessary, or at least will be postponed. You can reach your members by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

When Senator Reid pulled the FISA bill this evening, he cited constituent pressure as one of the reasons for pulling the bill. That is further confirmation that constituent calls, faxes, and letters do make a difference!

I'll post updates as they become available.

A Little Christmas Fun

You Are a Cranberry and Popcorn Strung Tree
Christmas is all about showcasing your creative talents.From cookies to nicely wrapped presents, your unique creations impress everyone.

Hmmm...made three batches of fudge this afternoon and the fudge is neatly put in cutesy Christmas tins...guess that qualifies as "from cookies to nicely wrapped presents".

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Even More Winter Pictures

Went to Pawnee Lake SRA yesterday

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Received more snow this morning...Probably about two more inches

UPDATE: 6:45pm CST. Pbase, my photography site, is having "issues". For whatever reason, the only photos affected on this site seem to be the ones I just posted. The vagaries of computers! Photos hopefully will show up later....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Did You Know?

Recently I received a flyer soliticiting my purchase of the National Geographic's Birds of North America.

Amongst the nuggets of information imparted

Kettles, Murders, and More!
You've heard of a gaggle of geese and a covey of quail, but did you know these other collective nouns?

A kettle of vultures
A murder of crows
A parliament of owls
A charm of finches
A congregation of plovers
An exaltation of larks

I knew, or had heard of, most of them, but there's a couple of them that were new to me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More Winter Pictures

The first two pictures are on the road to Branched Oak Lake. During the summer these farm buildings are only partially visible from the road because of foliage.

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This gate is on the west side of the park

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Winter Wonderland

We received three or so inches of snow last Thursday. Yesterday morning I went out to Branched Oak Lake.

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I guess there has to be a joker in every crowd

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