Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Perfect Summer Day

Today was one of those rare perfect summer days we get here in Minnesota--hardly any wind or humidity and temps in mid 70's. It's actually the second time this week we had a day like this and I just couldn't bear the thought of wasting the entire day inside at work, so when Mr. Johnson decided to take a half-day off, I jumped right on that bandwagon! Fortunately, I was able to opt-out of a 9 AM meeting and had no other pressing duties to worry about. We drove out of the parking lot at 9:35 and with only one stop on the way, were home by 10:00!

I knew it would be a perfect day to do some birding--especially trying to find some new sparrows. So after a little lunch, I loaded all my gear into the car, and in my best "GPS voice," instructed Mr. Johnson when to turn right and left to get us to the optimum birding areas. Our first stop was a little pond where we found a snapping turtle a couple weeks ago. I got out and started focusing my binocs around the edges of the pond, hoping to see something, but never expecting to see this......A juvenile Green Heron! WOW!! Lifer!! It was way over on the other side of the pond so this isn't the best picture, but based on the size of the bird (as big as a crow), I'm checking Green Heron off my list.

As we continued, we saw this small herd of cattle relaxing in a pasture right next to the road.....not birds, but pretty darn cute nevertheless. I call them Ebony & Ivory!

My GPS voice then directed Mr. Johnson over to "Prairie Woodlands," an upscale housing subdivision in rural SW Rochester. This is a very cool bird area as there are large, undisturbed grasslands (I think they're lots for homes, but the lot prices are so high that most of them haven't been sold or developed yet). We heard several Clay-Colored Sparrows out here, and also saw flocks of Bobolinks--males and females, and possibly juveniles.

As we were leaving this area, I spotted this Sedge Wren singing loudly from the road ditch.

I saw one of the these little wrens on my trip to North Dakota in June, but I've never seen one here in Minnesota. What a great little singer this bird was and there were several more in the grassy field beyond.

We took one more familiar backroad on our homeward journey--still seeking sparrows and once again discovering the unexpected......can you tell what it is?

How about now?

Earlier this spring, we discovered there was a new vineyard and winery out here in the country: Salem Glen Vineyard and Winery. They have all kinds of different grapes growing here and also huge patches of rhubarb used for their wine. I wonder if they know about the fawns wandering through their vineyard in the middle of the day? It looked as though these little deer were feasting on clover or grass on the ground and didn't appear to be munching on the grape plants.

What a great afternoon! Even though I didn't see any new sparrows to check off my Minnesota list, we did see lots of other neat things and enjoyed a fun afternoon together. The trip lasted about 2 hours and consumed 1 gallon of gas (approximately 25 miles).


Lisa at Greenbow said...

Ruthie, what a wonderful day for you and the Mr. Thanks for taking us along on your bird outing.

Jayne said...

How fun to be able to just leave the work day behind and see what there is to see!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you got to take off for the afternoon, what a wonderful trip you had. Enjoyed all the pics of the birds and animals. Loved the little fawns, what cuties.
Do we owe you for half of the as, since you took us along?

Anonymous said...

The word half way down is supposed to be gas not as[funny mistake].

Ruth said...

Nice that you got to enjoy the perfect day outdoors. We had a lot of Green Herons here last year, but I haven't seen one this year. We have had a lot of rain and the swamps are more like lakes and I find the herons are fishing elsewhere. I love watching them stalk the fish.

Marsha said...

What a wonderful afternoon playing "hookie"! You saw some beautiful birds and the fawn is so cute hiding in the grapes. Did you stop for wine tasting too?

Meggie said...

So happy that you and Mr. J had a good day. Today in PA we had a day just like that....mid 70s, low humidity....perfect! I've never heard of a green heron. We see blues quite often when I walk around the lake at a nearby park. Cute fawn....wonder how he/she got in the fenced area? I really like your changing photos on the top of your sidebar. Great photos!

Deb said...

Sounds fun, Ruth! And you actually got to see a sedge wren! I have dozens of the little buggers singing in the shrub swamp by my garden, but I have yet to see one!

Debbie said...

What a wonderful few hours. I love all the great photos. That fawn is adorable.

KGMom said...

Ruthie--good for you--seizing a perfect day!
I love such days.
I did have to laugh at your description of using your best GPS voice. Oh yeah, I can identify with that!

RuthieJ said...

You're welcome Lisa....I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Hi Jayne,
It's nice to have a work schedule that allows me to take off like that.

Hi Mom,
Glad you could come along & no reimbursement needed!

Hi Ruth,
I guess not seeing green herons regularly is a good trade-off for no drought conditions this year?? I hope they've been able to find good fishing habitat somewhere else.

Hi Marsha,
I didn't even know they had wine tasting until I found the website when I got home. It's only a few miles from our house, so a visit to the winery and some rhubarb wine is definitely on my list this year!

Hi Meggie,
It looks like a fence in the picture, but it's actually just the wires running between posts to hold the grapevines--it's open at each end, so the deer can just walk between the rows of grapes (they were little enough to just duck underneath the wires though)

Hi Deb,
After I took the movie, I tried to get a photo, but that little wren dropped down in the grasses and I never saw it again either!

Thanks Debbie,it was sure nice to have an afternoon for playing -- not working!

Hi Donna,
I love having days like this to store up for when winter comes--it will be fun to look back at the pictures and relive the sunshine and good summer smells, sights and sounds.

Mary said...

Awesome afternoon. Green Heron and cows. I love cows - they're on my list to observe :o)

Beautiful photos, Ruthie.