14, 2003 08:54 PST
ready, Midwestern ENTS!
The first flock of sandhills (200-500 individuals)just passed
overhead of my
house west of Chicago. You hear them first and then must adjust
your eyes to
see them hundreds of feet above normal flight paths. Their
to establish a reference point towards which to focus.
They are one of the quintessential midwestern sensations of each
fall season. Living in wet prairies and marshes, their recovery
has been so
successful that the International Crane Foundation of Baraboo WI
out to farmers regularly in order to convince them to sacrifice
a few acres
of winter wheat seedlings to their early spring foraging. The
five foot tall
birds switch to marsh and prairie critters as the season warms.
To me, this mass migration is what defines living on the
savanna. Do others
of you have similar forest metaphors?
They should be up in your area soon, Lee.
14, 2003 10:47 PST
I remember a trip my wife and I took in the
mid-1980s to the
Niorbrara Wildlife Refuge in Nebraska and another refuge near
the name of which I can't remember. It may have been the
Wildlife Refuge. However, the abundance of Avian life we saw was
The savanna and prairie ecosystems are
incredibly interesting and
diverse places. A lot of people find them dull, but to me they
exact opposite. The combination of the big sky, rolling plains,
unpredictable weather gives them a unique character and a
expansiveness that is unmatched. As much as I love forests, I
can get to
feeling closed in at times, but the long vistas of the plains
sharply defined weather systems that you can see coming from
make the heartland anything but dull.
Please do keep us abreast of the changes of
the seasons as you
witness them. Great stuff.
16, 2003 12:03 PST
I suppose the cranes will be here soon. They might as well now
has ended. Once again winter has ended with stunning rapidity in
MN (it will be another month in northern MN). Last Monday
a subzero icebox. The long-range forecast called for the switch
on Friday and everyone was talking skeptically about it all
week. But, the
forecast was right. It stayed cold all week and Thursday we had
inches of snow, and then Friday and Saturday it was 70 degrees.
melt water were everywhere as three months accumulation of snow
disappeared. Minneapolis underwent the two-day transition from
Siberia to sidewalks and outdoor cafes packed with pedestrians
It will only be a week or two now before tree measuring can
begin. Now its
too muddy, because all that liquified snow is stuck on top of
soil. Each step that someone takes that sinks into the mud in
kills a wildflower, tree seedling, moss, or tree root, or starts
that can lead to a gully.