The CBC is an important exercise in what's called "citizen science."
|Ms Ball, looking for birds.|
Ms Hermes and Ms Ball have been doing this for many years (not quite 114, but probably pretty close), and I've heard them talk about it many times, but this year, they asked if I wanted to come with, and I said yes. I also offered to drive, and as we knew it would be cold and snowy and as I have an all-wheel-drive vehicle (with heated seats), they took me up on my offer. Ms Ball also told me to "start thinking about what you'll bring for lunch." Apparently, a VERY important part of the day's meandering journey through Carlton County involves stopping in Jay Cooke State Park for lunch, with everyone bringing something to share. I guess each year somebody brings garlic-stuffed olives. I thought the Lentil Salad would go well with the olives.
Anyway, we left Duluth around 9 am and headed for Jay Cooke, stopping off here and there at various places where birds are known to congregate.
|Ms Hermes uses her spotting scope to check for |
waterfowl in the distance.
We saw lots of Chickadees, Crows, and Pigeons (which are technically known as "Rock Doves," or so I am informed). House Sparrows and Red-Breasted Nuthatches also made an appearance. The sight of two Mourning Doves (one of my favorite birds) was the highlight of the day, as they're not often seen at this time of year. (As far as other wildlife goes, we saw lots of red squirrels and a couple of deer.)
As we got closer to the State Park, I drove very, very slowly through the residential areas nearby, and I wondered what we must have looked like--three middle-aged women driving slowly through the neighborhoods of Carlton, two of them peering through binoculars, the car stopping now and then, unexpectedly for no easily-discernible reason. I joked at one point that we might be mistaken for house-breakers, casing our next job, or private investigators, spying on the cheating spouses of our clients.
When we entered the Park, it was very nearly empty. Ms Ball and Ms Hermes spent a little time in the Park Headquarters buying Christmas gifts for assorted relatives of the juvenile variety, and then we walked over to the River Inn Interpretive Center for lunch. We found another couple of bird nerds in the Center. Emily and Drew were also out bird-counting, and they were both acquainted with Mr Weber.
They ended up sharing our lunch, for we had an awful lot of food with us. (Emily asked me if the salad was a variation on tabbouleh, which made me very happy, and while everybody liked the mint, some of us thought the salad needed a bit more zip, some chili peppers, perhaps.)
|Ms Ball, playing with her food.|
After lunch, we drove into the Campground, parked, and walked around for a bit, looking and listening for birds. Ms Ball and Ms Hermes started making an odd noise, which they wanted me to make, too, as they claimed it was a call for Chickadees. It sounded like they were saying "Pish, pish, pish." And, indeed, it worked, because in just a few seconds there were a half dozen Chickadees gathering in the branches of nearby trees. Apparently, pishing is a real thing.
|Ms Hermes, playing with her food.|
I tried to take some photos of the Chickadees, but it was very cold, and very bright, and the birds didn't show up well in any of the photos I managed to take. The Park was very beautiful, though, with all the snow, and it was a lovely day (despite the fact that it only got a couple degrees above zero). I think now that I've gone bird-counting with them, they will have to come orchid-hunting with me in the Spring...
|Birdfeeders at Jay Cooke State Park.|