Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Prairie Memorial

Day 14 (6/23/09)
Summer is here. It is 86 degrees with 66% relative humidity at 9:00 in the morning. I should have went out earlier but had things to do. I think it kept people off the trail though and I had it pretty much to myself. Most of the builds I had made on the 18th were still up. I got a chance to make a couple of new builds. I built a new combination build on the site of last years “Prairie Build”. It is an appropriate memorial to one of our oldest and enduring builds. I am defiantly going to have to put some mosquito repellent in my survival kit. Again I looked for the “Sora Rail” with no success. There are some new flowers out though. I can’t believe how grown up it is already. I am sure they will probably be mowing soon. I hope I get out more now.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

1st Day of Summer Vacation

Day 13 (6/18/09)
It is the first day off from school so of course I had to get out on to the trail. It was overcast so not many people were out. Once again many of the sculptures had been knocked down. I have decided that except for a few of my favorites I am going to concentrate on building new instead of rebuilding. I may use existing sites and materials but try to put them together in a new way. That way, at least I feel like I am creating something new. I was happy with the builds I made today especially a new one I am calling “Totem Build”. It has a nice vertical character. I also tried to make one in sort of a church form. I thought it may appease my more zealous critics. I have also been considering putting my little brochures, explaining the project, out in hopes that it might fend off some of the destruction or at least stimulate some dialogue. I went back and looked for the Sora Rail but couldn’t find it. There was a very attractive Iris there however and some angry Redwing Blackbirds. Today was the first time that I had been attacked by an angry bird. I had just finished working on a build and had retuned to the trail when all of a sudden I heard and felt a near miss as a blackbird attacked from above. It must have a nest near by. The Wild Roses are also starting to bloom and it is really starting to look like summer.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sora Rail

It was another really quick night to celebrate the beautiful weather. We did very little building and were reminded that with warm weather come the mosquitoes. We actually spent a good part of the night watching a bird. I have always considered myself a bit of an amateur birdwatcher. It goes back to my 4H bird project years, when my Grandpa and I put together the best bird nest collection at the Buffalo County Fair. One of these days I will have to dedicate some time to Grandpa Lund, probably the greatest naturalist I ever knew, although then, I just assumed that everybody went on walks to study nature. Anyway, I was quite surprised to see a bird that I didn’t recognize. We first saw it run across the highway intersecting the bike trail as we rode passed and both were amused by what we saw. To me it looked like a very small Velociraptor running across the road with its very low neck, long legs and rump up in the air. We never thought we would get another look at it but decided to sneak over to where we had last seen it. We were suprised when we caught glimpses of it through the grass. It was hard to get a really good look at it but since it stayed right in the same area we think maybe it has a nest close by. When I got home I started keying it down. At first I thought perhaps it was a type of sand piper but none had this bird’s bright yellow bill. Finally, I decided that it must be a Sora Rail based on its appearance, sound and location. I found a really informative internet site about it (and picture) at: identify.whatbird.com/obj/508/_/Sora.aspx . At any rate, it will require further investigation.
Following my pledge to photograph and identify plants in season, my latest subject I believe to be a Shasta Daisy. They have just appeared since we last went out. I am also happy to report that there has been minimal damage since we last went out.

Monday, June 1, 2009

“Dame’s Rocket” (Hesperis matronalis)

Day 11 (6/1/09)
It was another cold windy night on the trail, excellent. That means less people on the trail and perfect weather for building. I only wish I would have had more time. As it is I probably spent more time building then I should have. I decided tonight I think I could very easily spend entire days biking and building. As I said earlier in my journal part of this summer’s diary is going to be dedicated to photographing and identifying plants I see along the trail. Last night I included a picture of a field of flowers which I shot in more detail tonight. After a little investigation I believe it is a “Dame’s Rocket” (Hesperis matronalis). It is a member of the mustard family and like many invasive species they started out as an ornamental brought in from Eurasia in the 1600s. Because of there beauty and prolific nature they are often included in wildflower mixes. I started rebuilding “Island Build” tonight and am relatively excited about how it is going. I hope I can get it finished by the time it gets knocked down. I also rebuild some Cairns.