Birds and humans migrate in September
Since I have been gone on my usual Rocky Mountain trip for more than half of September, I can’t complain about another month of strange weather around here. I could complain about the strange weather in Colorado, but, very fortunately, the bad floods had very little direct effect on us.
However, I can continue to complain about the lack of progress on the lake path construction. Some, but not all, of the electrical work has been done. I can’t tell how much remains, but when I have looked, no one is working on it. I have read the bulletins about various reasons for delays, but at this rate of progress, winter might win, and then I and various other people will have lots to complain about, as many people have had about the park board in the not too distant past.
The public art project to be installed in the new lake path sounds great. I hope the local artists, Gita Ghei, Sara Hanson, Jessica Tank and Elana Dahlberg, and the many Minneapolis kids involved are still around when the project is finished.
That is most of my complaining for now, but I might start again soon.
Herons and Cormorants were still fairly regular on the lake in the first third of September but seem to be gone now. They should all still be in the area now and some of October and November. I, of course, don’t know if the construction mess has anything to do with their current absence.
The ducks and Canada Geese seem to be doing fine. Some of the male Wood Ducks have returned from their “guys only” northern vacations. Early in the month, I again saw a Nighthawk in the park and also a small group of pigeons. I see pigeons all over in the city and the country, but I don’t think I have ever seen them in Powderhorn Park before.
A Ring-billed Gull was making lake visits from the first of the month and now about a dozen are visiting, as happens every fall. One warbler passed through the park on Sept. 2, but I never got a good enough view to figure out what kind it was, and since I was gone much of the month, I don’t know what I missed, migrating so far this year.
The muskrats seemed to be doing OK in spite of the construction. There were two for sure and I think there were three, but now I am sure there is one less, sadly, as a dead muskrat with no visible injuries was floating in the lake near the dock this afternoon (Oct. 2).
In the back yard, a mother House Finch was teaching one of her young to use the bird feeder early in the month and I watched a Cicada hatch or whatever the right term is (leaving its shell or case) on a plant in the rain garden. Whatever the right scientific term is, the Cicada succeeded. And after my comments and worries about butterfly shortages, there were at least 12 or 14 Monarchs at the Meadow Blazing Star plants several times early in September.
I had at least one more Hummingbird Moth (or Sphinx or Hawk Moth) sighting in the yard, and my neighbor reported several around her phlox and Maximilian Sunflowers yesterday evening, so I am going to look for them before sunset, which is coming soon. I also saw one when I was in Colorado, and I saw my little buddies, the Least Chipmunks, Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels, Red Foxes, Chickaree Squirrels, Albert’s Squirrels, Prairie Dogs and Pikas. Pikas are also known as Rock Rabbits or Piping Hares, but they are not rabbits. They are more of a very high altitude, big-eared, small gopher.
I also saw many mountain birds, of course, such as Magpies, Gray Jays, Mountain Chickadees, Pink-sided Juncos, Steller’s Jays, Ravens, Red-shafted (Western) Flickers, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Mountain Bluebirds, a Western Kingbird, and birds we see around here, like various hawks, Kestrels, Bald Eagles, Ospreys, even Robins and lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers. I also, of course, saw lots of larger mammals, such as Mule Deer, Antelope and Elk. But this was a no-Black-Bear-and-no-Moose year.
I had considered not writing anything about birds, insects or wild animals and just writing about the supposedly not wild horse that threw me off on the side of a fairly high, fairly steep mountain. This really happened. I ended up with various bumps, bruises, punctures, etc., but nothing very serious. I landed right next to my Powderhorn travel partner who had left her horse a few seconds earlier. We ended up inches from each other, on our backs, feet aimed up towards the 18-inch-wide mountain trail, heads downward, but our bodies not in danger of sliding down the slope to the many rocks, stumps, tree branches, etc., below. She suffered torn clothes and various minor injuries about the same as mine. There are all sorts of other details and such to this incident. I told someone I was considering writing a detailed novel about the whole adventure. She said there was not enough for a novel, but I could do a novella.
That’s about it. Hopefully I, the park and every person and horse in the novella will be back in good shape soon.
Comments and observations are always welcome. Send them to me, in care of Southside Pride. Thank you.