A Great Day To Be Alive

A quick request to readers of this blog. I discovered over the weekend that a mutual friend and I share a dream of starting an apiary. The discovery comes about a month too late. I can't find any honey bees for sale. If anyone in the Minnesota or Wisconsin area knows of any resources for helping me start an apiary--preferably with Italian bees, please send an email to sharon "at sign" birdchick "dot" com.


Today was just an awesome-oh-my-gosh-it-feels-so-good-to-be-alive day. It was our first 70 degree day in the Twin Cities and I had a morning meeting with some of my favorite people today. One was with Carrol Henderson from the DNR's Non Game Department. If you haven't done your taxes yet, don't forget the Chickadee Checkoff. And if you are saying, "How can I think about the checkoff when this week is tax week and I haven't filed yet?" I sympathize, we haven't filed yet either. I just found out the damage from our accountant tonight--it's part of my euphoric mood. I LOVE my accountant. Because Non Birding Bill and I both do freelance and are arty types who don't pay as close of attention to money as we should, when we have filed on our own taxes the last several years and have had to pay large sums to the government. This year we decided to get professional help, because let's face it, would you go to an accountant for birding help or theater advice? No. So why should a birdchick and a theater director/writer do their taxes--we're not money experts? Our accountant is getting us a federal refund--a refund for cryin' out loud! I actually had to sit down when he used that word. We will have a very minimal state tax payment, but it is so miniscule compared to the past few years. I'm so happy, I feel like an eagle that just found a roadkill deer! Dan the accountant is so wonderful! I love him as much as is humanly and legally possible for a married woman to love an accountant. Dan, you rock, you rock big! Cinnamon was so shocked when I told her the news, she couldn't even disapprove:

My other meeting was with Mark Martell of Minnesota Audubon. Mark and I are hatching a couple of plans, one is an event in July that will be a "Buy a Duck Stamp Day" at a National Wildlife Refuge. I'm thinking of this as more of a party with music, birding and booth displays. Since it was so gosh darn beautiful, we decided to take the meeting out to the Chain of Lakes and TS Robert's Bird Sanctuary. It's a fun bird sanctuary that is relatively close to my home. While there we found some horned grebes and shovelers out on Lake Harriet. We ran into a couple "lunch break" birders--with decent equipment and binoculars. (I used to go around and ID bird feeders "That's a Woodlink Hanging Copper Top Feeder on a Hookery Shepherd's Hook Pole and an Erva SB-1 Domed Squirrel Baffle and now I beginning to ID binoculars, "Hey, Mark, that dude has a Nikon Monarch 10 X 42.") Mark mentioned that years ago when he was trying to erect an osprey platform on Lake of the Isles, that if you were walking around with binoculars and scopes, people thought suspiciously of you--were you a pervert looking into people's homes? Now, in less than 25 minutes we encountered two people birding with Nikon and Swarovski optics.

Part of the fun of birding in my neighborhood are all the signs making sure you enjoy the outdoors so it doesn't bother others in the outdoors:

I did violate this sign a tiny bit. When Mark and I saw the grebes, we couldn't remember off hand how to distinguish red-necked from horned grebes. Both had been recently reported on Lake Harriet. Neither of us had a field guide, so I called NBB at work and had him google the info. The were horned grebes.

Here was another sign:

I don't think the sign means the area is under surveillance by birders looking for warblers. I think it's to warn that no shenanigans should be happening in the woods, just wildlife viewing and maybe a little jogging.

When we wrapped up our meeting and started heading back, we found a large raptor sitting in the sun on a low branch of a tree in a cemetery. The sun washed out the bird and it was fluffed a little. At first glance, it could have been dismissed as a light red-tail, but we don't have too many of those regularly in this area. Binocular and scope revealed it to be a fat and sassy female Cooper's hawk. Check out the bird's chest, you can hardly see any of the orange that should be there:

Okay, now enough of all this celebrating, I need to start packing. We head out of town on Wednesday. We're spending Easter weekend with NBB's parents and stopping to visit a couple of friends on the way.