Monday, August 19, 2013

Had a REAL blast the other day

Do you remember that annoying ditty called “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”?  Well, I’ve been singing it in my head all day.  I’ve changed the lyrics a bit, but sing along with me now:

♫ ♪ “71 Painted Posts are done,

         71 Painted Posts,

         Take one down, and pass it around,

         Only 200 more Painted Posts to go…” ♪ ♫

Of course, I’m only guessing about the 200 posts to go, it could well be more than that, but you get the idea.  With the temps rising to the 90’s this week, I find myself about wiped out by 1:00.  Then it’s time to hop in the truck, turn the AC on high, and find some other chore to do. 

In one of my former lives, I was a math teacher, and have always been plagued with counting things automatically.  Whether it’s counting how many steps up a fire tower or how many shrimp I’m peeling and deveining, my mind goes into calculator mode and tics them off.  It drives me crazy sometimes, but that’s how I know I’ve already painted exactly 71 posts.  Some have been big and fat, and some have been not so big and skinny, but they all register in the left side of my brain somehow.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about something that I experienced last week before Gypsy arrived for a visit that I didn’t get a chance to post (as in publish) about.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Manager (RM), up from Minneapolis/St. Paul, came to visit to kick off and observe the Rocket Netting Regional Training that was occurring here.  Apparently, RM’s don’t actually visit individual refuges that often, so it was a big deal.  Everything was buffed and polished, and mowed, etc. around the refuge so he would be favorably impressed.  Seems he’s visited here about four times in the last couple of years so I guess he likes this refuge.  Do you think he noticed my beautifully painted posts?  I don't know smile I doubt it!

I was more interested in watching the rocket netting demonstration, than worrying about the big wig. 


     We all truck pooled to an area over the hill on the banks of Flat Lake for the demonstration.

_MG_9317Rocket nets are often used to capture large numbers of waterfowl for banding purposes.  A long mist net is laid out with ropes attached to explosive rockets for the capture.  I’ve used finer mist nets and bow traps during my bird banding days, but never used rocket nets.


This is Wayne, one of the biologists, loading the explosives into the rocket.  Behind him is the large net.


Ideally, ducks are baited to come to the area behind the three posts to feed on corn in a concentrated area.


Everyone hides in a blind about 50 yards away before dawn.  When the ducks come to feed, the rockets are set off at the best moment.


The plan is for the net to fly over the ducks and contain them underneath so they can be captured and banded.


After the person in charge of the operation checks to be sure all rockets have gone off, and it is safe, everyone runs to the netting area to get the ducks out and processed as quickly as possible.  Many refuges in the north of the country have quotas of waterfowl they need to band each year.  It is a way of managing waterfowl numbers at an optimum number.  Hunters report the bands from birds they’ve taken, and this is what helps determine daily hunting limits on various species. It is one way of insuring that North American waterfowl do not go the way of the passenger pigeon.

I’ve always been a John Wayne movie fan, and have probably seen just about every movie he was ever in.  One of them, in the 1960’s, was “Hatari!”  Anyone else remember that?  In it, he portrayed the owner of a company in Africa that captured animals for shipment to zoos world wide.  They had a problem filling an order for monkeys, and Red Buttons came up with an idea of using a rocket net to trap a large number of them.  Watching this demonstration brought that movie to mind.  Isn’t it strange where your head goes with certain experiences?  So that was my REAL blast, and some of it was from the past…

I leave you tonight with a peek at what I hope is to come in about a month:

IMG_4202 IMG_4205

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy