Monday, July 1, 2013

Had a date with Pepe` La-Peau this morning

After a quick meeting at 6:30 this morning, Rachel accompanied me on the first leg of the Minnesota Loon Survey.  We were given a bunch of official forms, and a list of seven ponds located throughout the refuge to survey for loons.  There was also a slightly less official refuge form for each pond where we were to identify and count all waterfowl that were encountered on the ponds.  Our first stop was at one of the ponds in the Booth Lake block that I’m also atlasing, so we already knew that there were a pair of loons nesting here.


But as we approached the observation point, good old Pepe La-Peau was in the middle of the roadway.  We really didn’t want to survey him up close, so we waited until he wandered away.  Satisfied that it was gone, we got out of the truck and began our 15 minute scanning of the pond.


A couple of the nice things about doing these different surveys with a young assistant is that Rachel opens and closes all the gates we encounter, and she willingly totes around the awkward scope on a tripod while I simply have my binoculars to carry.  As we moved a little further down the levy to try to get a better view of the loons to see if they were packing any babies with them, good ol’ Pepe popped out of the brush once again and headed right for us.  You can bet we began a hasty retreat!  In that old cartoon, Pepe used to ply his would be girlfriends with flowers, but I surely wasn’t interested in sniffing his fragrances.  By the time our 15 minutes was up, this skunk came at us three times.  This is birding under duress!Surprised smile  We finally escaped odorless and headed for our other ponds.


I always have to stop for a good view of a bald eagle even though waterfowl was our target today.  We finished the seven ponds by the noon deadline, and found a nice variety of waterfowl to report.  We didn’t see any loon babies today, but saw the little ones of pied-billed grebes, hooded mergansers, and trumpeter swans.

The biggest surprise of the day occurred upon our return to headquarters.  The refuge wants to try to improve the volunteer RV sites a little each year, and this year they decided to add cement patios to each of the sites.  The patios will be 12’X24’ each next to the gravel parking pads.  That will certainly improve things during rains.  No more muddy puddles outside the door or tracking mud into the rig.  Only problem was they wanted us to move our rigs this afternoon!  You know, whether you are moving 8 feet or 80 miles, you just can’t hop in the driver’s seat and pull away especially if you’ve been parked for about a month or two in the same place. 

Steve heard about it first thing this morning, so they began work on his site first.  Thank goodness!  With all the equipment they brought in, I told them I would move after everyone went home from work this afternoon, and that’s just what I did.  It’s really a minor inconvenience to move the rig over about ten feet to gain a nice new patio, but it’s a pain just the same.

I had also mentioned several weeks ago that it sure would be nice to have a set of outdoor laundry lines for the volunteers to use.  Lo and behold, there are two laundry poles in my front yard tonight just waiting to be installed between the two sites.  Fresh air dried sheets, towels, and clothes sure beats using the wrinkly Splendide drier, and saves electricity as well.

As Neil, the refuge manager, came up to inspect the work progress this afternoon, I told him I appreciated both the patio and the laundry lines.  He told me his aim was to make these sites so nice that we wouldn’t want to leave.  Ha!  Then I reminded him about the Minnesota winters.  Smile with tongue out


                                                                               THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy