The sight could easily have been missed. We were leaving our duck hunting destination, heading homeward on a county road that leads away from a large national wildlife refuge. My hunting partner and I had spent several days watching our decoys bob and weave on its waters, hoping to attract passing ringnecks, redheads or bluebills. We'd had limited success; we were apparently early, and many of these birds were reported to be still holding at points farther north in their migration.
There's an expression in the world of photojournalism and documentary photography that says a lot about what it takes to regularly capture outstanding images with a camera. It's attributed to a photographer who worked primarily in the 1930's and 1940's. When asked how he managed to do such consistently good work, his answer was a cryptic "f/8, and be there."
One of the "didn't-see-it-coming" duties that came with moving into a new home recently, has been the hanging of photographs, artwork and other "stuff" that makes a house a home. In the process, we've been poring over old photographs that might be meaningful to display, since the home we built occupies a slice of land where a family cabin was the site of more than 60 years' worth of memories.
When you stop and imagine the hazards that can claim the life of a wild bird or beast, your first choices are likely to be something other than a microscopic pathogen. We think of a grouse in the talons of a goshawk, a deer in the jaws of a timber wolf, a winter blizzard that suffocates a pheasant, or a drought that dries up a pond before mallard ducklings can make it to the safety of a permanent wetland.
If you spend time on lakes in the northern part of our state, you're almost certain to encounter the common loon, our state bird. It seems almost an insult to call it "common," but that's the price some creatures pay for being abundant, and having their kind spread over a wide geographic area. It's also due to having similar relatives, and the need for multiple names so people can tell them apart. There are five species of loon, and the one most familiar to us was the one to draw the short straw and be called "common."
I'm hearing "Where has the summer gone!" a lot these days. It's being spoken more as a statement than a question. On paper, it would merit an exclamation mark, rather than a question-mark.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recently announced the results of its 2018 spring breeding duck survey. It found that overall duck numbers were up 9 percent from 2017, 14 percent above the average over the last 10 years, and 12 percent above the long-term average over the last 50 years.
Most of us would understand the term "amphibious" to mean by-water or over-water. The invasion of Nazi-held Europe and the South Pacific islands occupied by the Japanese during World War II exemplifies this meaning of the term. Barge-like boats optimistically called "landing craft" carried soldiers from ships to shore in carrying out these amphibious invasions.
Spring-to-early summer is time of critical importance to the successful reproduction of most wildlife in our northern world. From birds to bugs, fish to fowl, now is when it must happen for most species. Several of these are of more than casual interest to those of us who hunt. These species, like nongame wildlife, are at a seasonal crossroads that will determine whether their numbers will be up or down as the time of rearing ends and young should be maturing into adults.
On election night in November of 2008, those who fish, hunt and value the out-of-doors had reason to rejoice. The long-sought goal of a constitutional amendment to fund conservation efforts had been approved by Minnesota voters. This constitutional amendment — officially called the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment — had to be approved by voters because it added 3/8 of one percent to the Minnesota state sales tax.