Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Late Spring on the Ranch

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here is 100 words and a lot of pictures.  Nice day on the prairie today out at Urland Ranch, in Summit South Dakota this morning, dead calm, some views from around and a couple shots up at Sica Hollow State park looking for veeries.....enjoy what i got to see today!

An otter sees his first Olaf, and Olaf sees his first otter on the ranch

American bittern

Black tern

Holy Hawk!


sharp-tailed grouse

Wilson's snipe

Sica Hollow Veery and yellow lady slippers
yellow lady slipper


Common ringlet

Silvery blue
orange mint moths
Silvery checkerspot

Monday, June 1, 2020

Olaf's Compilation of Photographs is out!

My Photographic compilation is ready!  Thanks to Dr. Jeff Rapp and Karen DeBaun for encouraging me to put a compilation together of my 30 years of photographs, it was like hearding cats, reviewing 400,000 shots this winter but I selected 100 pages of them and put them together is an attractive book, writing a little blurb about the 50 places in the world I included that seemed to have bits and pieces of "Paradise" in them and included a little thought of what other have thought about these places.

I didn't include Iowa, because Kinsella already wrote "Is this heaven? No, it is just Iowa."  I've previously based Nirvana stories in Kansas in my novel "The Enumerator," California and Oklahoma in "Curse of Panther Creek" so having written 90,000 words, I think I covered those locations and I had to draw the line somewhere.

I looked at very good photos from diverse places like Argentina, Ibiza, Mexico, England, Germany, Trinidad,  Bermuda, and many many locations in the US etc and I just didn't feel it, had a bad vibe, or I just said "no,"  and didn't include them.

So if you want to support this, $20.00 for a copy

drop me an email and I can give you details of getting one and you too, can own a piece of Olaf

Here is the description on the book:

The search for paradise takes you on a worldwide photographic tour with author, adventurer, outdoor enthusiast, and birder Olaf Danielson as he searches for idyllic settings and Eden. 

Often traveling to the place less traveled and the place less clothed, Olaf looks at the concepts of paradise through the vision of others as well as his Nikon camera.  Unlike many, Olaf actually found paradise, however temporary, on an island of St. Martin before it was destroyed by Hurricane Irma in 2017.  He tries valiantly to find a new and better place.  Olaf and various members of his family travel from South Africa to the Brooks Range of Alaska, and to even the most isolated human settlement on earth—Tristan da Cunha.  Along the many journeys and millions of miles of travel (over 350,000 miles in 2016 alone), he ponders questions like:  what  really is paradise?  Is it something even attainable?  How many societies of the past found Eden and now the location is lost?  Is there a light out there signaling us to these shores of bliss?

A sample of the many birds, landscapes, butterflies and interesting things that my lens has found

King Penquin, South Georgia Island


A Talayot, Menorca Spain

Collared aracari, Costa Rica

Corsican Wall Brown, Corsica, France

Gunsight Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana

I only wish I could paint some of these scenes.



Thursday, May 28, 2020

Prairie Tracks

Have you ever arrived home and saw something strange?  One time we saw a one way track of foot prints, but thankfully no person.  Another time had tracks doing circles in our driving area.  Would these tire tracks coming off of the road seem strange to you?

How about if you drove in your yard and you turned the other way....
Wtf?  is right.

Luckily we are not in Minneapolis and St Paul, and our daughter is safely home as her local Cub Food Store was ransacked today near Hamline University.   We were listening to that on radio.  I was off doing mowing, my wife and I were returning  from the cabin today to water and mow the grass.

 My daughter called us, something sounded wrong. "Hey someone is at the door and he says he hit one of our trees."  I'm like how could anyone hit one of our trees, they are way off the road and the ditch is 12 feet deep. "is he drunk?" I asked.

"sounds okay. He is very polite."

I was somewhat confused as to what really happened, and we were still 25 miles away but upon driving home it was true, someone had murdered one of our spruce tree we've been growing for years.  These were long past the Christmas tree stage and this one, got all decorated each winter for the last decade.  Crap!

He even ripped the stump out, pushed the tree back and didn't miss my car trailer by that much

How he didn't roll the Suburban....some what shocking
My daughter took a picture of the rig which looked exactly like the Old 1995 Suburban we traded in for the Cash-clunkers program back in 2010 to get a new Subaru.  Maybe the old car gods are getting back at us....for unceremoniously ditching the family car.

So we had a late Arbor Day massacre here, a sudden death of one tree, could have been worse.
I called the guy who was long gone, he wanted to do the right thing, make it right, asked what he could do....."hey, you owe me a tree."  He agreed with the plan.

We'll see how happy he is when he learns what the cost of replacing a big spruce like that one costs, it is not going to be cheap and probably almost as much as the old Chevy is worth.

Birds....well, the mourning doves are nesting in the spruce next to this one thankfully but otherwise
migration is winding down
Bay breasted warbler

a way out of range Northern Mockingbird in Robert County SD last week, might be a county record

Only the third South Dakota blue-gray gnatcatcher I've seen

Weather has been iffy and now the bolus of birds have largely passed just as the crazy driver taking out my yard trees has passed by, we'll see if doing the right thing includes forking over 500 bucks for a tree.  Now I got to figure out what to do with the remains.....

A sad day.....

stay safe

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A visit to Corona (virus)

Some of you, I suppose, figured I'd be posting photos of the ultra rare crescent chested warbler today from Arizona, and despite it all, I'd be down on the west slope of the Chiricahua Mountains finding a great bird, but well...that would be irresponsible.  To put it simple, I just can't go.  You see, today is day #10 in my probable experience with Corona, Coronavirus, or COVID-19.  Nine days ago when I suspected I was coming down with it, I fully expected to be on a ventilator today, or dead.  I was writing letters to my wife and children last week but I got too sad and could never finish. I was writing down all of my passwords and thinking about my past.  I had been a good run. Such is this dreaded disease, one that moves fast but slow enough that you sit and wait, hoping for the best but fearing the future. It seems you either got it hard, or you hardly get it, luckily, I got off easy.

I say presumed, as my wife made contact with two clinics, one never responded and the other: we didn't meet the criteria for a diagnostic test.  I even wrote to the State department of health for South Dakota, wondering if since I had been thinking if things got bad in Grant or Day County SD, and knowing if we had it, we'd volunteer as doctors to help, and since both counties, have as of yet have had no confirmed cases, it may be good to show it is around to keep people from being reckless, that email, went unanswered.  I will only say to you, trust me, people with this disease are closer than you think.

It was an odd illness and an odd feeling.  I dreaded the nights, not that they were so bad, but that the unknown awaited in the morning.  It is hard to sleep when one thinks about would I be short o breath, would I even wake up in the morning?  But each day I did, and so did my wife.  We had GI symptoms, a persistent gut ache that was just there to remind you that things were wrong.  We had a really mild Upper respiratory symptom, a little sore throat, headache, a severe case of malaise, and well, some night fevers, but I am not complaining, it was pretty calm.  It was odd at times, though, I could feel something wrong in my chest and occasionally had to force myself to breath....the rare times I coughed it was like I didn't want to stop and then...I did, and I said a prayer every time the coughing ended, and it was only rarely.

It is clear that we either got it from buying milk in town or from our two sons, which if you work backward, our son Tyko was in Seattle late before they closed the city down in March and timing wise, he could have brought it back, then gave it to his brother (he is now holed up in Madison WI with his twin) and then they came to visit two weeks ago, thinking they had been isolated for a week and had never had any symptoms.  Six days later, I had a fever....So, at least it was the West Coast variety...I think that is a milder strain, but it is hard to know.  Oddly, our cat was also diagnosed with mild pneumonia at the VET last week, he had a UTI to boot, but he seems to have also gotten by with a slight case.  Kitty is out stalking again but it makes you wonder...did Tiger have COVID?  The Vet didn't think it was worth the test which he wasn't sure he could get.  There was a real tiger with COVID in New York....

I also might have been lucky as I did have Yellow fever vaccine series a year ago, another RNA virus and there is some studies that if you get your immune system turned on for RNA viruses, yellow fever is an RNA virus, oral polio is maybe a better one, that can help you fight it off, but who knows.  Yellow fever was a nasty vaccine for me so anything it helped with later is a good thing.  I also spent the worst days in the sauna, figured what didn't kill me made me stronger and the Finns had good survival numbers

The fact that we probably got it, considering how out of touch we've been with people, makes it important to realize how contagious this bug is.  The USS Kidd has not made port in over a month , yet, cases suddenly appeared on the ship at sea, I think we experienced the same situation.  It harbored in our kids for a month until they spread it to us.

You may ask, why have I been going out?  Well, we haven't seen anyone.  Even talking to a neighbor who seemed to want to get closer, I stayed 10 feet apart.  I felt the fresh air helped clear the lungs as did moving.  We tired quickly but we still went looking for stuff, the birds are migrating and in some cases, our deck was the best place.  I am lucky to be where I am and seeing each bird made me believe that it would be the last time I would ever see the species....kind of a last of life list.  It was very very macabre.
A pair of Solitary Sandpipers, part of a "Contradiction" of solitary sandpipers, the approved name for a group of them, a group of solitary birds?  A true contradiction

Wilson's snipe

common loon and FOY red-necked grebe
field sparrow
Harris sparrow

Black and white warbler
white-throated sparrow
Well, the stories and thoughts of (my) our demise have luckily been premature, now we just wait to fully get rid of this virus (assuming our symptoms are over and we did beat it) and then we can worry about the future to find out if we can catch it again, maybe next time, we won't be so, though I think I've lived to bird another day,

There will be other rare birds in Arizona, ones I can safely chase and be safe to the other birders and fliers.  For those of you doing things....take this seriously...The Beast is a beast.  I (we) was (were) VERY very lucky, assuming this was the real deal, and just because it appears that this virus isn't nearby beware of people like me, or others who don't appear sick but yet harbor the Beast.


Sunday, April 26, 2020

Frogs, frogs everywhere

I live in an interesting place.  I have threatened and endangered butterflies flying around from time to time. We have interesting birds and mammals, and it turns out, we even have some interesting frogs.  I don't pay much attention to frogs but some years our yard is filled with them.  Take the wood frog.  Being from Wisconsin, these early breeders were such a common sound heard in our wooded ponds, I paid no attention to them, sometimes even thinking the singular croaking sound was more birdlike than frog-like.

The South Dakota DNR is out surveying wildlife, mostly frogs by my house, and one of them, Dennis Skadsen, a man I've talked to but never met, told me to look out for Wood Frogs.  I walked out the door and heard some.  I was thinking, "what is the big deal?"   Then I did a little research.

It turns out wood frogs are reportable to the state DNR in my county, as we are in the edge of their range.  Day County is in light green
 However other maps show just this distribution, which is very scarce....apparently they are expanding OR they have more people looking for them
Clearly, quite a ways from me, and in the literature specimens have only been reported in Day County South Dakota in 1929....until some were found about 8 miles south of me in 2016, and then a few more, yet, I go out and stand on my deck and hear them the first moment I listen and then photograph one.  Then I don't know what to think.

I do know wood frogs are cool, they freeze every winter including here and then thaw out in spring and resume their lives.  It is a complex and not 100% known process but they prove who they can survive life on the egde

Wood frog, Day County, South Dakota 4/26/2020

Sometimes I wonder about all of this rare stuff.  Maybe my friend is correct and Bachman's warblers are still around, lurking in the shadows somewhere.  Even Ivory-billed woodpeckers....Sort of like yellow rails and Northeastern South Dakota, they aren't here because no one is looking.  So here it is, an extremely rare frog and poof they just magically in my back yard, I suspect they are everywhere.  It all makes me I reporting this to the state?  Hell, no.  If I was looking for anything up here, Dakota skippers, wood frogs, rails, the first place I'd look is in my backyard....the state can go sneaking around at night irritating my pets and my daughter, I guess they need something to do.
I've been thinking, I've always had this species of frog in my backyard.

Got a lot of frogs outside right now and there was some serious frog sex going on
Kandiyohi color pattern of Northern Leopard Frog, very sharp looking
Burnsi color pattern of Northern Leopard Frog
Normal morph of Northern Leopard frogs
All three patterns in five minutes of looking
We also have Boreal chorus frogs singing behind my house, they are a bit skittish, quite a diminutive frog but a classic spring sound up north
Boreal chorus frogs

I have seen some birds this week...not everything is...FROGS
Female Red-winged blackbird

gray partridge
sharp-tailed grouse (male) 

White pelican
So we are trying to survive COVID and like the wood frog, none have been reported in Day County nor even Grant County in Milbank but like the frog, I suspect it is also here, just no one is looking for it in the correct locations.

Who have thought a rare frog in my backyard, 40 feet from my pillow....
So stay safe, keep looking in your backyard, you might find something rare....


Late Spring on the Ranch

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here is 100 words and a lot of pictures.  Nice day on the prairie today out at Urland Ranch, i...