A sandhill crane and its colt find a rest area in Steele County. The colt looks golden in the sun. AL BATT/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
A sandhill crane and its colt find a rest area in Steele County. The colt looks golden in the sun. AL BATT/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
The dew point indicates the amount of moisture in the air. It’s the temperature at which the water vapor in air condenses into liquid at the same rate at which it evaporates. When the dew point equals the air temperature, dew forms on solid surfaces. Relative humidity is the amount of moisture in the air compared to what the air can hold at that temperature. When the air can't hold all the moisture, it condenses as dew.
I grew up paying attention to the humidity. I don’t enjoy days with high humidity. When the humidity hits a certain point, I start singing Warren Zevon’s song, "Poor, poor, pitiful me."
Because I grew up with it as a measurement of discomfort, humidity has more relevance to me than does the dew point.
I have a terrific neighbor named Duke Tukua. When I want to know the humidity, I use the Duke point.
I point at Duke. If he appears to be wilting, I know that the humidity is high.
Fitz-Reading Gardens
I visited Fitz-Reading Gardens in Rockford, Iowa. I added Iowa because there are at least eight cities in the U.S. named Rockford. They are in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Alabama, Tennessee and Washington.
Fitz-Reading Gardens is one of my favorite places. Every year, Stan Fitz exceeds the seed limit in his gardens. He not only has a green thumb, he could get blood out of a tulip.
Stan replaced lawn with gardens. He should have a TV show called, "Lawn Order."
Church, baseball and birding
I spoke at the UCC Church in New Ulm. A lovely place of worship and fellowship. The church was prayer-conditioned.
Not long after, I watched a baseball game. A shortstop kicked a ground ball.
That’s what happens when you watch too much soccer.
A Baltimore oriole flew overhead. I pointed it out to an uninterested couple seated next to me.
They looked up. I think they were hoping to see a Baltimore Oreo. Chocolate on the outside and vanilla on the inside.
Echoes from Loafers’ Club
It’s a great day for the race.
What race?
The human race.
News from Hartland
Man hit on head with can of soda says he was lucky that it was a soft drink.
If not for venetian blinds, it’d be curtains for all of us.
City sends "Get Well Soon" cards to everyone who is delinquent in paying their water bills.
Cafe chronicles
The cafe bragged that none of its food smelled like feet.
It wasn’t idle boasting.
He was a small man whose belt had reached retirement height. He had been swallowed by his shirt. He told me that he’d stayed home to ripen on the vine.
He watered his garden because he was more dependable than Mother Nature. He said his grandfather had taken Carter’s Little Liver Pills all of his life. When he died, they had to beat his liver to death with a stick.
He ordered a pie. The pie was two-feet long. The rhubarb had been tall this year.
No worries
I’ve been feeding the mosquitoes. They’re hungry and numerous this year.
Beth Knudson of Hartland told me that all the mosquitoes would die soon because there isn’t enough blood to go around.
Building fences
I was building a fence. Good fences make good neighbors. If only good fences made good fences.
That was how I estivated, digging postholes and stretching wire. The fences were built not only to keep in the free-range cattle, but also to keep the pigs from running hog wild.
My dog kept me company. She helped by watching.
I took a break from my duties to watch county employees install a culvert.
My dog thought humans bury the strangest things.
BBS
Every June, I do a Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) for the U.S. Department of the Interior. I’ve been doing this for many years. My route has changed through the years. Roadwork, flooded roads, tornadoes, new houses, pastures gone and wetlands drained. Building sites eliminated, hayfields replaced with row crops and lofty wind turbines erected. Fewer pastures and hayfields mean fewer meadowlarks.
This year's BBS, like every BBS, was a thrill to do. It gave me a chance to feed the mosquitoes. I could easily do a mosquito census, too.
Wild roses, sweet clover, goat’s beard (looking like an oversized dandelion) and campion bloomed, as did red clover. I used to bale grasses that grew wild. It was commonly called "wild hay," but if there was enough red clover in it, I referred to it as "red top hay."
I started at 5:02 a.m., attempting to bloom along with those plants. I watched a great horned owl fly up from the road and perch on a utility pole where it was immediately harassed by four crows.
I spotted a young crow with blue eyes. Crows have blue eyes when they hatch, but their eyes turn black with age.
I saw deer galore and a fox walking down the road to her kits. There’s nothing much cuter than baby foxes. There were many cottontail rabbits and meadow voles. The voles are the potato chips of prairies. They are food to many predators.
A young groundhog scurried under my car. I didn’t want to run over the youngster, so I yelled at it. It remained beneath my vehicle. I whistled loudly and it found safety in the road ditch.
I saw a wild turkey with seven poults. I watched two gray catbirds chase a blue jay from a cottonwood tree. Catbirds typically build nests on horizontal branches hidden at the center of dense shrubs, small trees or vines.
Blue jays are known to eat the eggs of other birds. In a study of blue jays, only one percent had evidence of eggs in their stomachs. Most of their diet was composed of insects and nuts.
I made a stop near what used to be an elk farm. It was always a favorite stop for me when the ungulates resided there, but they are gone.
Each of my 50 stops in Freeborn, Mower and Steele counties consists of three minutes of looking and listening. I count any bird that I see or hear.
I looked out into a field that once fed elk. There was a pair of sandhill cranes and their colt. The colt looked golden in the sun.
What a fine day that was.
Jumping ducks
I watched baby wood ducks jump from their nest cavity as their mother encouraged their leaps. I reckoned the jump was about 35 feet.
I remembered a time in my boyhood when our gravel roads were closed to school buses because of winter weather. I needed to walk three-and-a-half miles to the nearest paved road to board a bus to school.
I didn’t complain. The ducklings had a tougher journey.
Nature notes
"Blue jays look identical. How can they tell who is a male or female?"
Birds can see in light frequencies, including ultraviolet, which we cannot. This light is used to communicate species and gender. I’ve read that a male blue jay has a pattern on his wing that’s lacking on a female.
"What can I do for an injured bird?"
If it’s a raptor or vulture, contact the Raptor Center located at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul at (612) 624-4745. For any other injured birds or mammals, call the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville at (651) 486-9453.
Thanks for stopping by
"Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake." — W.C. Fields
"Until you make peace with who you are, you'll never be content with what you have." — Doris Mortman
Meeting adjourned
Be kinder.
© Al Batt 2014