I am sticking with the Missouri Farmers Union and voting no on Ammendment 1 on August 5th !
The Cora Island unit is the most Eastern unit of the Big Muddy National Wildlife Refuge. Located up the Missouri river from where it flows into the Mississippi river.
Inside the Mississippi flyway, a host to thousands of birds during migration time. Regardless if they are headed South to avoid the cold of Winter, or North to ensure the survival of their species, they pull over here at an all inclusive rest area.
Catherine was able to attend the Wildlife Rescue Center's open house this past weekend.
Executive Director Kim Rutledge was able to give Catherine an update and the first look at Lil ' Fox since she grabbed the poor flea and parasite ridden 4 paw cutie from the weeds along Hwy 21. See earlier blog post "Lil' Fox"
I will sum it up in one sentence. She is doing great !!
Anticipated release in about two months. She has some growing to do !
There was a battle raging over the skies of the Missouri river. A dogfight in the skies. Two masters of the air twisting and turning to see who could edge out an advantage to become the victor !
The Big Muddy National Wildlife Refuge is 11 units stretched accross the State of Missouri. What makes them unique is that they feature North America's longest river the Missouri. Managed in different ways by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and named after the long used nickname of the river," The Big Muddy."
On a gorgeous summer day my favorite South African and American in training traveled to the Overton North unit of the Big Muddy NWR to see what we could be thrilled by.
Walking along a levee, a couple of stone throws from the river we were enjoying the heat of the summer and happy with the breezes and low relative humidity Missouri and its' rivers are infamously not known to produce. Great flying weather !
This is when it happened ! While I was looking in the opposite direction, the future American let out an excited "Oh ! Oh!" and pointed skyward.
Flying from the direction of the river, two seasoned, hardcore veterans of the the air, a mature Red-Tailed Hawk clutching something in its' talons being sharply pursued by a mature Bald Eagle located just off the Hawks' 4 o'clock.
The Hawk banked hard to the left with the pursing Eagle matching its maneuver. The Hawk released its' grip and a single bird, a prize of the hawks hunting, dropped into the sky. As fast as it was dropped the Eagle grabbed it in the free fall.
The Hawk not taking kindly to being so tested, became the pursuer. Staying off to the Eagles 9 o'clock,the skilled flyer jinked several times in the direction of the Eagle. The Eagle banked into the direction of the Hawk, enforcing its' "Air Superiority" over the the smaller bird of prey.
The Eagle executed a perfect landing in a tall cottonwood tree. The Hawk not giving up yet, flew several quick figure eights in front of the tree evaluating if the tactical advantage had turned in favor of this russet colored fighter. It had not, and the brave Hawk, who in his daring challenged his pursuer, retired from the battlefield.
The Wildlife Rescue Center posted this pic of Lil' Fox on their Facebook page. Looks like she is putting on weight, nose on the ground and looking stronger.
An incredible place Wildlife Rescue Center is, no doubt !!
They will be having their open house July 13th. Here is their website so check them out !
I was asked to write about what the United States of America means to me. The inquisitive immigrant and future American asked on July 3rd, the day before America celebrates its' birthday, July 4th.
America inspires many different feelings and emotions, learned behaviors taught since childhood. I have pledged allegiance to the flag, and proudly served in the military. I am fascinated by the history and interested in how it works.
It is a newer country. Being an American is only two hundred and thirty eight years old, but its's land has known ancient peoples. I live accross a river from Cahokia Mounds. A city built in the 1100's by what are called Mississippian people.
Moving forward in the centuries to July, 4th 1776 and you have America's day of independence. Part of the British Empire, the thirteen colonies defied the heavy taxation of its' powerful rulers. First protest, then rebellion, followed by revolution.
The Declaration of Independence was written by men whose concept of government was new and untried, and still exists today.
July 4th, 1776 was the day that the Declaration of Independence was signed and the official start of the United States of America.
It is a country in constant change, ever evolving, ever growing. Good or bad the change comes from the people or in the interest of the people.
Living in this country is fairly easy.
I am free to express my feelings on any subject. I am free to defy the government and its' leaders without the fear of being hauled out of bed to never be seen again.
I have an incredible amount of rights not held by most people of the World.
The thing I love most is that I can travel freely about the country without any special permission. This has afforded me the opportunity to see many different environments. Deserts, mountains, plains, swamps, and coasts. I have also explored the cities.
I have explored the wild places. Made special because in its' history the people were smart enough to think of future Americans by protecting the special places and animals with the first ever National Park, the Wilderness act, the Antiquities act and the Migratory Bird act to name a few among many.
Knowing about my country and being able to do what I do, I can easily sum up what my country means to me. It is the same idea that the signers of the Declaration of Independence had for themselves and future Americans. It is what I want for my children as well.
Twelve hours in a National Wildlife Refuge is a great way to see the workings of the planet, and to satisfy a never ending curiosity. At least for a moment.
Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge was the destination. My favorite South African being my traveling companion.
Located in Pike County, Missouri with the village of Annada, population 29, on its' Western edge. The Mississippi river is on its' East. The refuge is 3,750 acres of Mississippi river floodplain. Established as a stop over in the always important Mississippi flyway. A place to rest and regenerate for migratory birds.
I have been here before, but never in the Summer. The Spring and Fall of migration time, and the dead of Winter. During my visits I tried to imagine what Summer would look like, adding in the promise of a Summer time return.
A late start but a beautiful day brought us to the Refuge office which had a banner on display showing the actual size of five birds. (See photo)
From largest to smallest:
All five birds can be found in National Wildlife Refuges accross the country. Four can be found at Clarence Cannon. We became excited knowing we have worked with the four, and have seen all five in the wild.
It was a day hiking around the refuge casually. No rush, no hurry, no point A to point B, just taking the time to take it all in.
Many different wildlife representatives were seen, birds, reptiles, mammals and fish.
Great Egrets were numerous and traveling in their vicinity would cause them to take to the air. On one such rush to the air approximately forty gathered, and flew to a pool maybe a 1/4 of a mile away. It was incredible to see them dissappear from sight, not behind a tree, or any other vegetation, but below the ground level that our eyes could see. Expertly dissappearing into the massive field. You could not see one feather !
A few deer were seen, but not many until later. One racoon kept an eye on us until it moved deeper into a tree line. Fish jumped in the flooded areas, taking advantage of the insects flying too close to the water. Frogs jumped into the water at the approach of our feet.
Birds were numerous, Grey Catbirds, Swifts, Herons, Gold Finches, Grackles, and the master of the fields Red Winged Blackbirds balancing perfectly on delicate plants, swaying perfectly with the wind.
While walking in the woods near the river, a mature Bald Eagle was perched in a tall leafless cottonwood tree. It took to its' wings wanting to put distance between it and its' historical repressor, man.
While walking another forested path, a juvenile Bald Eagle busted out of the undergrowth not twenty feet from us. It turned on the path, flapping and skipping akwardly until it could take flight. A sign of a recently fleged bird, not yet having the skills to burst into the air.
As the day moved towards its' end the change that occurs from light to dark began. The melodic communication of the winged ones quieted, as the sun dissapeared, being hidden as the Earth spinned in its' orbit. More deer and their fawn appeared from their hiding. Momma racoon moved quickly into a tree line followed by her two offspring splashing madly to join their mother. As darkness limited our vision, the distant hoot of a Barred Owl began.
As we rumbled down the gravel road in need of the headlights to start our journey home, the flickering glow of thousands of fireflys began.
I had completed nine days in a row at work. I was home relaxing with no plans of going anywhere for anything. I actually went out the evening before, and bought a nice piece of sockeye salmon, asparagus, and red potatoes for my mini celebration of the joy of days off.
I stood up, looked at Zeusy and said " You ready to make dinner? " He was ready. Of course the phone started ringing. (This really happened, you can ask Zeusy.) The caller ID said " Restricted. " No way I was answering. Then the second call came in with a number I vaguely recognized, then the voicemail. I will listen to that.
It was a buddy who works at the Clayton (Mo.) Police Dept. He said he was on the Forest Park Parkway with a Falcon that wouldn't fly. I asked him to catch it, and I would come and get it. As I explained the "How to" he sounded reluctant . I knew for sure he would do it, no police officer I know would be afraid. I said call me back when you have him. We hung up and a few moments later he had him and was taking him to the station. After shutting down the Parkway to grab it. Awesome !!
I called Catherine to see if she was available. She was the Catherine who started the lil' fox rescue. She was right down the road and in no time we were on our way.
At the station he was inside a cell inside a tupperware bin. My buddy did not want to leave the lid on until I arrived, and figured a cell will keep the bird contained.
We arrived and performed an initial exam. The Falcon was only about 60 days old and probably recently fledged. Other wise we could not identify anything wrong, except a check of the keel area showed it probably had not eaten in a few days. We suspected that the Falcon just fledged and hadn't figured out life on it's own yet.
Off to the World Bird Sanctuary Wildlife Hospital. Once there I took the bird out of the copier paper box provided by the Clayton PD.
Catherine prepared a mew and a few mice in an attempt to get it to eat. It actually grabbed one and began eating while I was holding it. Never had either one of us seen that.
It was left over night and the Veterinarian Dr. Stacy performed her exam. She found no injury and suspects the newly fledged Falcon was trying to figure out it's world.
After a few days of eating good it will be released in it's territory.
Took so long I gave up on cooking the salmon and we ate Mexican and I arrived home late . Oh well......
It doesn't matter where he is at, desert, mountains, rivers, or forests, he is happy. It starts when I am packing my backpack. The excitement really revs up when I bring out his. He knows we are going " To the Woods" I better not say it aloud. His happiness explodes !
He came into my life 8 + years ago. When we first met he was 10 months old and weighed 83 pounds. But he was wrecked. He was emaciated, dehydrated, suffering from whipworm, and all his pads had been cut by a paranoid schizophrenic who claimed he and the overgrown puppy had been fighting the devil. He claims they won.
He came home with me, quickly loved by my kids, and given a lot of time to heal. In about a month he was putting on weight, the whipworms were gone, and he could walk on concrete without expressing his pain with very sad whinning.
This is the time he became the most obnoxious, undisciplined, rowdy, food stealing, do as I please problem. He was out of control !
He had no obedience training and did not know how to go down steps. He was very good at grabbing crystal christmas tree balls and tossing them down the steps just to see them smash. I cringed everytime my five year old daughter would yell out, " Dad he did it again ! " He was lucky it was her because she adored him. In no time he reduced the ornaments to the top 1/4 of the tree.
Daily training ! Commands in German, after all he was a German Shepherd. Trips to the park for more training, and throwing the tennis ball that he could chase forever. In no time he was shaping up to be more of a disciplined dog. He was fast, athletic, and powerful.
While all this was happening my marriage was in its death throws. Sad and depressed I would immerse myself into making this dog something. After hours in the park we would watch the sunset as I day dreamed of being in someplace wild, strapped into a backpack walking with my dog. I soon found out that he would repay me ten times over for every belly rub he suckered me into.
In no time we moved out. The marriage was over. Now it was time to change my life. But every obstacle that got in the way did. It is unbelievable when times get bad they get really bad.
He knew it, he protected me and made me smile. One evening as I laid in bed and called for him to go to bed, which was always next to mine. He stayed in the adjoining room looking up and letting out a half bark, half howl. I found that strange. What was he looking up at ? I walked into the room as he looked me dead in the eyes then back up again. I had left a candle burning. I blew it out, and he walked directly to bed. I slept peacefully that night.
The walks and hikes was something we both craved. Sometimes I wished we would start walking and never stop. The hikes would take us to rivers where he became a water dog. He loved it ! We swam together and a stick would replace the ball as the best thing in the world to be thrown in the river and retrieved after a leaping splash and swim. We would climb the tall bluffs of the Mississippi river. Picking a line that would give him enough room to put all four paws on a ledge until he can be pushed , pulled or he would jump up to the next. He never hesitated. He never gets scared.
Backpacking, camping and hiking in the Mark Twain National Forest would bring us both joy. Sleeping together on the ground, or in a tent would give us enough rest to continue our foray in the woods. He is a four season dog. Some trips in below freezing temperatures, some in 100º or higher.
He became a fantastic trail dog. Always leading the way, but only getting a certain distance before stopping and looking back until the distance was closed, and he knew we were in sight of each other. He will also run back and forth if his people are not in eye sight of each other. The herder in him wants a close orderly group.
He carries his own food in the saddle bag packs I would strap him into. It never bothered him, or slowed him down. Recently he carried his own food for a six day trip into the Bell Mountain Wilderness. He leapt over downed trees and hopped onto rock formations just like a pup. The reality is he is 9 1/2 years old now.
He will guard at night. Always keeping one eye and one ear open. When the coyotes howl back and forth between ridges his ears pop to attention, head swinging to whichever one was vocalizing. Owls he could care less. A bear once visited our camp at 2am in Arizona. It came out of a tree line popping and huffing. He circled the tents not letting up on showing his displeasure at finding us in his forest. I was sitting up with one hand on the collar and one on the tent zipper. Not wanting a late night bear fight I whispered for him to stay. His body was tense, his ears erect, waiting for the signal. The bear moved on into the opposite tree line, we both relaxed and fell asleep but not before enjoying the cold mountain air and the beauty of the milkyway.
Our adventures would lead us into the deserts and mountains of National Forests, National Parks, National Monuments, and going deep into Wilderness areas. It doesnt matter where we are. We both were living the way that thrills us most, strapped to a backpack out in the wild.
Love you Zeusy !