Friday, August 18, 2017


Grenville, SD Aug 18th, 2017

Roslyn has the Vinegar Museum and its resident poet.  Eden (formerly Eden Park),  has Club Eden but the the biggest thing that Grenville SD had until recently was a flood.  Today the biggest thing that nobody ever heard of to happen in Grenville was the arrival of one of North Americas rarest breeding birds.  The near extinct Whooping Crane.

Yesterday, I got interviewed for radio podcast on Animal Radio's Pet talk.  It airs next week and was on my 2013 habit of nude birding.  They got a laugh.

I found it good to be on the lake this week, there is nothing like being home

Up in Canada, a friend of mine  encouraged me to do a book on my fish stories, my first love, pike fishing and so I started that on Tuesday and have a good start going and YES, I am including some 2016 sections on my big year.  Haven't got to that yet, not sure if it will be 10 pages or 100 pages but I'm writing.  I needed a break this morning  and as the rain was coming in, and my wife scurried to finish painting our shed.  We've had a very wet August.  I'm predicting bad crops around here.

So I decided to go and chase a nearby bird, 17 miles away from my house on Enemy Swim Lake.
I drove around the lake and then west, through Grenville, SD  population 59.  Grenville is an odd town, and has not had the best of years recently as Waubay Lake rose up to swallow some of it and for a while literally you couldn't get there until some of the roads were raised moved around the water,   Some roads had to be raised 30 feet in some cases.

In 1915 and for decades, the Soo Line did some great marketing attempts at this God forsaken land on the top of the Coteau to sell land it got along the new spur and the only spur in had in the state.  They named places like Eden Park, and Lake City, as enticements and both cities never amounting to anything and even together, with Rosyln and Grenville combined would not be anything anyone would mistake for a city.  Today Eden is a place of 79 people, lake City is 52 and Grenville the end of the line, was marketed as "an industrial center" in the 1951 Soo Line annual report along with Minneapolis, Duluth, Milwaukee...those three have nothing in common with Grenville,   I think some executives were smoking something back in the day.  Soo Line was trying anything and well 40 years ago they gave up, ripped up the track west of Veblen and left these towns to fend for themselves.  The only thing that was ever in the Grenville was a very unimpressive grain elevator and a diminutive warehouse that today look pretty sad. Such is life in the rural prairie.  Times have past us by...

 The small town has obscure Polish family names for street names that are all one lane wide.  The local baseball team has the cool name of the Grenville can guess the pastime here.

I even saw more white pelicans in town than residents

Dead west of town, was an off again on again report of an oddity.  Nobody but me and Barry Parkin really birds up here so the off again is expected.  The whooping crane, a cool bird nearly extinct but the population is slowing rising, more , now than the four burgs up the old rail line:  Roslyn (178), Eden (79), Grenville (59) and Lake City (52) combined, but just barely.

This crane has been around for a while and using the bands, this is a Wisconsin bird.  Neceedah must not be so welcoming this year as I also saw a Wisconsin bird in Ontario in June.  It took me a few minutes to find it in a bean field but there it was.....South Dakota lifer 272....we can argue if it meets the ABA rules or not since I know where it is from.........

Finally you can see the bands on the leg.  The only better near extinct bird that could come to SD (lesser numbers) would be the California Condor, I shall wait patiently for one of those to show up, somehow, I think on my deathbed, I'll still be waiting.  I'm happy with the crane.  Oddly, I've never seen a sandhill in this state...yet.  Such is my bizzaro world of SD state listing

So there, another SD at a time, someday 300.....but I'm still out there birding getting birds.  Barry wants to go out on the eclipse and hear morning songs in midday, I'm not sure that is what I want to do and I'm not sure if Nebraska is on my travel plans next week either.

maybe I'll see what a whooping crane does at an eclipse....probably ...not much


Monday, August 14, 2017

Smoke 'em if you have them.

August 4-14th 2017.   It was a two week period of dips, slips, flubs, flops, bites, follows ....I could go on.  Basically I got smoked.  Sigh...the life of Olaf isn't what dreams are always made of, but then again, it may be just my perspective.  I'm sure you expect me to be perfect, perfectly bewildering would be a better term.

So what has happened in this filled week.  I go in reverse order as as i write this I'm sitting in Buffalo NY.  The airport has free wi-fi so type I do.

Behold the empty piling...............

Yes, there is NO bird on that piling, maybe just bird poo........The Wellsboro PA white-winged tern was put to bed last night at 830 on a snag all happy, nice, and quiet.  The heavy evening fog settled in the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania as the night was still and quiet and at first light all the creatures were stirring..

 Blue herons on the dock........

 bull frogs.......

Green herons....

But sigh all except the tern.   I met friends from Indiana, Tom and Theresa, too.  We had a nice breakfast at McDonald's but no tern.

I have a history with is not good.  Not good at all.

The last time I found myself in Wellsboro, it was at the Tioga County Courthouse.  A Pennsy trooper pulled me over on the state highway over Nessmuk Lake (coincidence?) for no registration plate on my boat trailer.  It was being pulled by a WI licensed truck, boat registered in WI, and I had a WI driver's license at the time.  Wisconsin doesn't license trailers for boats.  Trooper Smith gave me a tciket anyway.  I plead not guilty.  The last thing I did before we moved from Williamsport was to appear in this courthouse.  I had WI / PA reciprocity laws, I had Wisconsin statues, I had all kinds of stuff, but Trooper Smith didn't have the guts to show.  I was found innocent and that...was that....

My first patient as a doctor was from Wellsboro, he died at 1130 my first day.  He had Legionaire's disease and was in bad shape.  But by noon, my panel of three patients on my first day had all coded.  It was an auspicious start to my medical career.

My most interesting patient, well the one that mystified us to the point that he almost died was rock climbing near Wellsboro in 1993.  He fell and broke his right arm rock climbing and then became a mystery because he lost all clotting factors.  he was transferred in from Wellsboro to my hospital and over 72 hours sucked eastern PA of all plasma, clotting factors, and well, the grim reeper came knocking.  I was put in charge of blocking the door.  In desperation, I was charged with the most thorough exam I've ever done.  Inch by inch.  On a corner of his forearm I saw a hole.  It looked like a puncture, just before they had cut him open to repair the open fracture, but from what.  Even looking at it it looked like nothing.  I had an off the wall idea.

Crotalus horridus.  Could the young man have put his hand on a snake (timber rattler) while climbing, got bitten and then fallen breaking the same arm and hiding the true problem.  We had anti-venom  for that and the copperhead flown in.  Patient turned around and I got a great mystery case to present all over the place at conferences.  Nobody ever guessed the case as it presented so atypically.

I was once sent an application from a Wellsboro doctor to work in Minnesota.  He had no ER experience.  Kept talking and on the third call finally sent me his list of malpractice cases.  It was a novella.  He had excuses for everything.  To this day the most litigated physician of all time and he just kept calling me.  To think Minnesota would give him a license OR Pennsylvania wouldn't just pull his was absurd.  He called me for 2 years.  Like I'd change my mind or his file could be cleansed.  It would be like cleaning up Hitler or making a manure pile sterile......I had to get caller ID at home just so I could screen for PA callers......

The stakeout at Nessmuk from across the lake.  Definitely the biggest birding thing to hit Tioga county in some time....but alas....that is now past

So dipping on a tern in Wellsboro is just what was expected, I guess.  You may ask why, oh why did I not come on Saturday?

Well. Pastor Olaf was doing a wedding, a "hats only" affair at an undisclosed site in Minnesota on Saturday attended by 143 people at final count.  It was fun and great, lovely and romantic except.........I called the bride by the wrong name.....TWICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   OMG!!!!!!!

Now everyone is calling me JoAnne, since I appear to have Joanne on the brain.....JoAnne was my late aunt married to my uncle who had the same name as my groom on Saturday and my brain would not snap out of it.  If you think you are going to get pictures of this celebration.....think again......I was wearing my Stetson, I bought in Elko NV last year at the snowcock chase, and that was that.  The rest...use your imagination.  It was how you imagined it, trust me.

I should also mention that my wife got light headed and almost passed out during the dinner following and had to lay down in the grass.  There was karaoke in the evening but I was not doing that.  I had enough to embarrass myself earlier during the vows. 

  I had to hurry on Friday to get out of Ontario on Friday as I was in a remote fly in fishing location 400 miles away from the wedding.

On a good note, my boat won the biggest pike trophy for the 7 of the last 8 years, it even won last year without me in it, and this year, I got my spot back.  The bad news is that I missed the prize myself by an inch.  Greg Peer caught a modest 39 inch brute to win the honors.

We were dogged by low water, calm hot weather, forest fires, and dormant fish, but here are some of my fish.

Our boat caught and released 261 pike and we called it a down year.  It is all perspective.  I also started to write a book called "The Pike Whisperer"  It will include my longstanding pike passion, which easily eclipses my birding and I will include a chapter at least on my 2016 adventure.  "The year without pike" will be that chapter.  The only year since 1971, I did not catch a pike in.  Pike fishing is

Yea I catch 96 fish one day between walleyes and pike and I complain.....everything is relative.  Some of the walleye boats easily caught a thousand fish, but well...again.....relative

This year I was champion shore lunch maker. I guess....even using a camp grill 20 miles from where we were at, because...I could, and I couldn't screw that up

the fires unnerved us, even a popular lunch spot had the island burnt up in the last few days

Dr. Jeff Rapp of Duluth made homemade ice cream in the bush...and earned the nickname the "handy man"  Fresh ice cream on an island?  WOW!

The good doctor also caught the largest bottle of adult beverage to drown his sorrows in catching small fish.  Eric Thoreson from Rice lake WI caught the largest walleye, being 16 years since he had previously won the Stan Peer Trophy.

Birds.....nothing exciting....gray jays and some odds and ends boreal song birds

The big rarity was a way out of territory common mudpuppy, curiously being eaten by an otter.  Maybe my best picture of the year.  The Canadian herpetology society is evaluating my rare "amphibian" report.  Yes, a rare amphibian report.  two year amphibians this week and both in this blog!!

There is more to life than just birds....and northern pike....................NO I JUST DIDN'T JUST WRITE THAT!!!
 Okay strike that I wrote that....

My plane is boarding and I'm smoked


I mean Olaf

Golden dreams and memories

  Today brings me to the north suburbs of Chicago.  Although not for a bird even though a lifer bird had been flying tantalizingly close to ...