Friday, December 18, 2009

Audubon Society - 110th Annual Christmas Bird Count

Bulletin Staff Writer

Billed as the "world's longest-running uninterrupted bird census" by the
National Audubon Society, the 110th annual Christmas Bird Count starts in
Baxter County at midnight tonight, conducted by "citizen scientists."

For 24 hours Friday, midnight to midnight, bird lovers plan to walk through
local bird habitats recording the number of species they see. Every year,
the data compiled by tens of thousands of observers throughout the Americas
contributes to a greater understanding of which birds are where, and when,
says Phil Hyatt of Mountain Home. That information, he says, leads to
better conservation.

roadrunner was moving north," Hyatt said. "We also documented the eurasian
collared dove in two CBCs. They simply were not known in Arkansas when I
was a boy. Neither were house finches."

Hyatt, 57, became interested in birding in 1966 during a bird walk in
Florida led by a naturalist. He helped manage the state's bird records for
Audubon Arkansas in the early 1970s and currently volunteers at Buffalo
National River with the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory. His job in the
Christmas Bird Count is to compile the data gathered in Baxter County, in
addition to observing and counting.

But you don't have to be an expert like Hyatt to take part.

Who can participate?

"We have about 12 people in Baxter County who regularly count," Hyatt said,
"but the more observers we have, the better the data."

He hopes more volunteers will get involved, either in the field or watching
their own backyard bird feeders.

Anyone who lives within the designated area can participate, Hyatt says.

"All CBC count areas are designated as circles 15 miles in diameter," Hyatt
said. "The center point is usually chosen to locate the count area in
desired and variable habitat. In our case, the Midway Post Office serves as
the center point. This allows us to include most of Mountain Home inside
the bypass, most of Cotter, all of Gassville and Lakeview, most of Bull
Shoals, the Pigeon Creek area, but not Cranfield, much of northern Baxter

Hyatt says anybody interested in participating, whether by joining a group
in the field or watching their own backyard feeder, should call him at
736-1952 for instructions before the count begins.

Diane Mikrut, president of the Audubon Society of North Central Arkansas,
says she's excited about her first Christmas Bird Count.

"I love nature and I love birds," she said. "I'm looking forward to being
out there with people who can coach me on how to identify birds."

Mikrut plans to meet a group at 7:15 a.m. near Lake Norfork.

"We try to match inexperienced with experienced observers," Hyatt said.

Some groups, he says, will have two to four people. Others may have as many
as 15 or 20.

While there is no fee for feeder watching in the Christmas Bird Count,
field observers are charged $5, for which they receive a copy of the
summary journal published at the end of the international count.

What's involved in participating?

Observers in the field, whether on land or water, count the numbers of all
birds they see by species, according to Hyatt, and he compiles their
results as though seen by one person.

"Phil sets up regions in the park," said Park Interpreter Julie Lovett of
the Bull Shoals-White River State Park. "It looks like a big wagon wheel."

Her group is meeting at 9 a.m. at the trout dock in the park, just past the

"We'll count at the river and then go up to the wildflower garden," she
Feeder watchers count birds in a different way, since the same bird is
likely to return to a feeder several times during a day, Hyatt says.

"We ask people watching feeders to count the highest number of birds of one
particular species at any given time," he said, "and keep track of the
number of hours they watch."

Hyatt says that rare species sighted during the count week also should be
reported to him.

"If we see an eagle or osprey in the count circle three days before or
after the count day," he said, "we can record it as seen during count week
but not on count day. This allows the gung-ho observers to find rare
species and still report them."

Once Hyatt receives all the local data, he compiles it and sends it to the
state Audubon organization with the number of people involved, the hours
spent observing and the weather conditions.

Weather matters.

A look at Hyatt's historical data for Baxter County shows that only three
turkey vultures were spotted in 1998. In 1999, 248 were counted.

"Turkey Vultures don't like cold, rainy weather," Hyatt said. "If the count
day happens to be rainy, you may not see any. If it is warm and sunny, you
may see 248. So we record weather conditions."

Hyatt says that while weather matters, the degree of expertise in observers
does not.

"The variations in the count are so wild that the data isn't perfect," he
said, "but you get so much data that volume compensates for the lack of
scientific accuracy."

Why does it matter?

The National Audubon Society lavishes praise on citizen scientists who take
part in the CBC. Its Web site states, "Each of the citizen scientists who
annually braves snow, wind, or rain, to take part in the Christmas Bird
Count makes an enormous contribution to conservation.

"Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this longest-running
wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations, and to help guide
conservation action."

Hyatt and Mikrut agree.

"We don't see the population change over night," Hyatt said, "so we don't
realize the change in the environment and habitat until it's too late."

He cites Baxter County's prairie history as an example. Birds that once
populated local prairies and farm fields no longer find their preferred
habitat here, where forests have taken over much of the land.

The Audubon site states that bird counts help "identify environmental
issues with implications for people as well. For example, local trends in
bird populations can indicate habitat fragmentation or signal an immediate
environmental threat, such as groundwater contamination or poisoning from
improper use of pesticides."

"Birds are one of the very first indicators of what's happening on our
planet," Mikrut said.

Hyatt says scientists are using CBC data to watch the effects of climate
change on birds. Statistics at show that "177 species show
a significant shift north and this northward shift was correlated with an
increase in mean January temperatures in the contiguous 48 states of almost
5 degrees during that time."

But according to Hyatt, the best thing about the CBC is that it's fun.

"We do this for fun more than science," he said. "The science is very
useful and important, but it is also a fun day. The amount of adventure is
up to the participant — riding, walking, boating. We need more boaters who
are willing to look for loons and grebes and know what they are looking at!"

To participate in the Christmas Bird Count, call Hyatt at 736-1952. For
more information, visit

The Audubon Society of North Central Arkansas meets on second Mondays at 1
p.m. at Redeemer Lutheran Church. Guests are welcome. On Jan. 11, Lucinda
Reynolds will speak on "Birds, Bugs and Native Plants: Part of a Perfect
Balance (Creating a Backyard Habitat)."

"If the CBC sparks an interest in people," Mikrut said, "that would be

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Trout Fishing in Northeast Iowa as Reported in the New York Times

Hey, Earthyman here! I was just reading the article in The New York Times about trout fishing in Northeast Iowa and what a coincidence that turned out to be. My friend and I were fishing just out the backdoor of The Natural Gait on Thanksgiving Day and caught Rainbow and Brown Trout on the Yellow River here. Take a look at Terry latching onto two Rainbows View Video

Taken From The New York Times

Brad Johansen, my guide for this day of fishing in the driftless area of northeastern Iowa was discussing our fishing options between bites of biscuits and gravy at a diner. Mr. Johansen, a high school science teacher who guides on the side, said the bull had chased him over a fence the previous week.“It doesn’t matter, though,” he said while laying a $5 bill on the table to pay for his breakfast. “I caught a 31-inch trout a few days ago in the area we’re headed to this morning.” Cow pastures and cornfields are the milieu for trout angling in this hidden landscape of limestone valleys and cold-water streams. The Driftless Area occupies 24,000 square miles along the Mississippi River in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The word “driftless” refers to the lack of gravelly drift in the region from the last glaciation 12,000 years ago. The Wisconsonian glacier that plowed under much of the upper Midwest missed this pocket of more than 600 spring-fed creeks, and so the Driftless endures as 500-million-year-old karst country, where steep forested valleys descend into shadowed coulees.“Trout in the Driftless Area are as big and you can catch as many as the trout rivers out West,” said Bill Kalishek, fisheries biologist for the Iowa Natural Resources Department. Mr. Kalishek said some streams held as many as 4,000 trout per mile. “Fishing the Driftless is just different,” he said. “The streams are smaller. The setting is more intimate than those big Western rivers.”After miles of driving through croplands out of Decorah, Mr. Johansen guided his minivan down a one-lane gravel road in the Pine Creek Wildlife Management Area. We bushwhacked through willow thickets along a five-foot-wide stream, scaring up bluebirds, wood ducks and a pileated woodpecker.“These are wild trout now, so you have to be on your game,” Mr. Johansen said in a whisper. “You only get one cast. If you miss your spot or get tangled up, you’ll spook the hole.”Our party of four included two men casting spinning lures (me and Mr. Johansen), a bait fisherman using worms (Dennis Evelsizer, a friend of Mr. Johansen’s from Decorah) and a fanatic fly angler (Mike Dvorak, a friend of mine from St. Paul). A survey by the trout advocacy group Trout Unlimited found that 74 percent of Driftless Area fishermen were fly anglers, though Mr. Johansen said most of his clients use spinning gear. Casting spinners lacks the romanticism of waving a fly rod like an orchestra conductor, but there’s a skill and an art to it, as Mr. Johansen demonstrated. He padded through the oak understory to within a few feet of the stream, then flipped his spinner — sometimes overhand, sometimes underhand, sometimes sideways — with surgical precision to land with a “plip” in the water near a snag of fallen branches on the opposite bank. “My fly-fishing clients spend a lot of time untangling their equipment,” he said with a grin. On we pressed through more thickets until we reached a beaver dam with a deep pool behind it. Mr. Johansen spotted an otter sliding away. “That’s not good,” he said. “Otters eat lots of fish.”But his worries dissipated on my second cast, when an electric jolt shot up my rod, the tip bent, and in moments I was holding a 12-inch brook trout in my hands. It was a strikingly handsome fish, with a forest-green speckled back and orange fins.The region teemed with brook trout when European settlers arrived in the 19th century, logged the hillsides bare and planted croplands from which topsoil washed into valley bottoms, burying streams under 12 feet of sediment in some places. By the 1930s federal farm programs to control erosion started the comeback of the Driftless’s cold-water streams, which were stocked with brown trout, rainbow trout and more brook trout. By 1980 five trout streams in Iowa’s Driftless Area supported natural spawning, with only one stream harboring the last surviving lineage of Iowa’s native brook trout. With the 1980s and the rise of the Conservation Reserve Program that paid farmers to idle erosion-prone crop fields as grasslands, the Driftless Area’s prairie character began to re-emerge. Today 33 trout streams in Iowa’s Driftless support natural spawning. But now Driftless trout anglers worry that high corn prices because of demand for ethanol could erase those gains, as more lands are put back to agricultural use. Mr. Dvorak, the fly angler, caught and released 10 brook trout in the pool behind the beaver dam. Mr. Johansen and Mr. Evelsizer both kept foot-long brookies. On our walk back out, I cast my spinner by a log pile in a stream bend and landed a 15-inch brown trout. Mr. Johansen unceremoniously threw mine in his plastic grocery sack with the three others.
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Labels: Brown Trout, New York Times, Rainbow Trout, The Natural Gait, trout fishing
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Earthyman Harvests Big Blue Stem at Ion Exchange
As the fall draws to a close Ion Exchange our sister site is busy harvesting all the wildflower and grass seed. Enjoy Earthyman's video.

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Labels: Earthyman, grasses, harvesting, plants, Seed, video, wildflowers
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
A Walk In The Park A Day Keeps Mental Fatigue Away
The Natural Gait provides its guests with many marked trails through timber, meadows and along the Yellow River. There is an abundance of wildlife to enjoy in any season.

ScienceDaily (Dec. 23, 2008) — If you spend the majority of your time among stores, restaurants and skyscrapers, it may be time to trade in your stilettos for some hiking boots. A new study in Psychological Science reveals that spending time in nature may be more beneficial for mental processes than being in urban environments.

Psychologists Marc G. Berman, John Jonides, and Stephen Kaplan from the University of Michigan designed two experiments to test how interactions with nature and urban environments would affect attention and memory processes. First, a group of volunteers completed a task designed to challenge memory and attention. The volunteers then took a
walk in either a park or in downtown Ann Arbor. After the walk, volunteers returned to the lab and were retested on the task. In the second experiment, after volunteers completed the task, instead of going out for a walk, they simply viewed either nature photographs or photographs of urban environments and then repeated the task. The results were quite interesting. In the first experiment, performance on the memory and attention task greatly improved following the walk in the park, but did not improve for volunteers who walked downtown. And it is not just being
outside that is beneficial for mental functions—the group who viewed the nature photographs performed much better on the retest than the group who looked at city scenes.

The authors suggest that urban environments provide a relatively complex and often confusing pattern of stimulation, which requires effort to sort out and interpret. Natural environments, by contrast, offer a more coherent (and often more aesthetic) pattern of stimulation that, far from requiring effort, are often experienced as restful. Thus being in the context of nature is effortless, permitting us to replenish our capacity to attend and thus having a restorative effect on our mental abilities.

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Labels: mental fatigue, nature, urban environments
Monday, October 19, 2009
Nature Essential for the Brain, Scientists Report
Boston Globe - January 2,2009
by Jonah Lehrer

The city has always been an engine of intellectual life, from the 18th-century coffeehouses of London, where citizens gathered to discuss chemistry and radical politics, to the Left Bank bars of modern Paris, where Pablo Picasso held forth on modern art. Without the metropolis, we might not have had the great art of Shakespeare or James Joyce; even Einstein was inspired by commuter trains.

And yet, city life isn't easy. The same London cafes that stimulated Ben Franklin also helped spread cholera; Picasso eventually bought an estate in quiet Provence. While the modern city might be a haven for playwrights, poets, and physicists, it's also a deeply unnatural and overwhelming place.

Now scientists have begun to examine how the city affects the brain, and the results are chastening. Just being in an urban environment, they have found, impairs our basic mental processes. After spending a few minutes on a crowded city street, the brain is less able to hold things in memory, and suffers from reduced self-control. While it's long been recognized that city life is exhausting -- that's why Picasso left Paris -- this new research suggests that cities actually dull our thinking, sometimes dramatically so.

"The mind is a limited machine,"says Marc Berman, a psychologist at the University of Michigan and lead author of a new study that measured the cognitive deficits caused by a short urban walk. "And we're beginning to understand the different ways that a city can exceed those limitations."

One of the main forces at work is a stark lack of nature, which is surprisingly beneficial for the brain. Studies have demonstrated, for instance, that hospital patients recover more quickly when they can see trees from their windows, and that women living in public housing are better able to focus when their apartment overlooks a grassy courtyard. Even these fleeting glimpses of nature improve brain performance, it seems, because they provide a mental break from the urban roil.

This research arrives just as humans cross an important milestone: For the first time in history, the majority of people reside in cities. For a species that evolved to live in small, primate tribes on the African savannah, such a migration marks a dramatic shift. Instead of inhabiting wide-open spaces, we're crowded into concrete jungles, surrounded by taxis, traffic, and millions of strangers. In recent years, it's become clear that such unnatural surroundings have important implications for our mental and physical health, and can powerfully alter how we think.

This research is also leading some scientists to dabble in urban design, as they look for ways to make the metropolis less damaging to the brain. The good news is that even slight alterations, such as planting more trees in the inner city or creating urban parks with a greater variety of plants, can significantly reduce the negative side effects of city life. The mind needs nature, and even a little bit can be a big help.

Consider everything your brain has to keep track of as you walk down a busy thoroughfare like Newbury Street. There are the crowded sidewalks full of distracted pedestrians who have to be avoided; the hazardous crosswalks that require the brain to monitor the flow of traffic. (The brain is a wary machine, always looking out for potential threats.) There's the confusing urban grid, which forces people to think continually about where they're going and how to get there.

The reason such seemingly trivial mental tasks leave us depleted is that they exploit one of the crucial weak spots of the brain. A city is so overstuffed with stimuli that we need to constantly redirect our attention so that we aren't distracted by irrelevant things, like a flashing neon sign or the cellphone conversation of a nearby passenger on the bus. This sort of controlled perception -- we are telling the mind what to pay attention to -- takes energy and effort. The mind is like a powerful supercomputer, but the act of paying attention consumes much of its processing power.

Natural settings, in contrast, don't require the same amount of cognitive effort. This idea is known as attention restoration theory, or ART, and it was first developed by Stephen Kaplan, a psychologist at the University of Michigan. While it's long been known that human attention is a scarce resource -- focusing in the morning makes it harder to focus in the afternoon -- Kaplan hypothesized that immersion in nature might have a restorative effect.

Imagine a walk around Walden Pond, in Concord. The woods surrounding the pond are filled with pitch pine and hickory trees. Chickadees and red-tailed hawks nest in the branches; squirrels and rabbits skirmish in the berry bushes. Natural settings are full of objects that automatically capture our attention, yet without triggering a negative emotional response -- unlike, say, a backfiring car. The mental machinery that directs attention can relax deeply, replenishing itself.

"It's not an accident that Central Park is in the middle of Manhattan," says Berman. "They needed to put a park there."

In a study published last month, Berman outfitted undergraduates at the University of Michigan with GPS receivers. Some of the students took a stroll in an arboretum, while others walked around the busy streets of downtown Ann Arbor.

The subjects were then run through a battery of psychological tests. People who had walked through the city were in a worse mood and scored significantly lower on a test of attention and working memory, which involved repeating a series of numbers backwards. In fact, just glancing at a photograph of urban scenes led to measurable impairments, at least when compared with pictures of nature.

"We see the picture of the busy street, and we automatically imagine what it's like to be there," says Berman. "And that's when your ability to pay attention starts to suffer."

This also helps explain why, according to several studies, children with attention-deficit disorder have fewer symptoms in natural settings. When surrounded by trees and animals, they are less likely to have behavioral problems and are better able to focus on a particular task.

Studies have found that even a relatively paltry patch of nature can confer benefits. In the late 1990s, Frances Kuo, director of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois, began interviewing female residents in the Robert Taylor Homes, a massive housing project on the South Side of Chicago.

Kuo and her colleagues compared women randomly assigned to various apartments. Some had a view of nothing but concrete sprawl, the blacktop of parking lots and basketball courts. Others looked out on grassy courtyards filled with trees and flowerbeds. Kuo then measured the two groups on a variety of tasks, from basic tests of attention to surveys that looked at how the women were handling major life challenges. She found that living in an apartment with a view of greenery led to significant improvements in every category.

"We've constructed a world that's always drawing down from the same mental account," Kuo says. "And then we're surprised when [after spending time in the city] we can't focus at home."

But the density of city life doesn't just make it harder to focus: It also interferes with our self-control. In that stroll down Newbury, the brain is also assaulted with temptations -- caramel lattes, iPods, discounted cashmere sweaters, and high-heeled shoes. Resisting these temptations requires us to flex the prefrontal cortex, a nub of brain just behind the eyes. Unfortunately, this is the same brain area that's responsible for directed attention, which means that it's already been depleted from walking around the city. As a result, it's less able to exert self-control, which means we're more likely to splurge on the latte and those shoes we don't really need. While the human brain possesses incredible computational powers, it's surprisingly easy to short-circuit: all it takes is a hectic city street.

"I think cities reveal how fragile some of our 'higher' mental functions actually are," Kuo says. "We take these talents for granted, but they really need to be protected."

Related research has demonstrated that increased "cognitive load" -- like the mental demands of being in a city -- makes people more likely to choose chocolate cake instead of fruit salad, or indulge in a unhealthy snack. This is the one-two punch of city life: It subverts our ability to resist temptation even as it surrounds us with it, from fast-food outlets to fancy clothing stores. The end result is too many calories and too much credit card debt.

City life can also lead to loss of emotional control. Kuo and her colleagues found less domestic violence in the apartments with views of greenery. These data build on earlier work that demonstrated how aspects of the urban environment, such as crowding and unpredictable noise, can also lead to increased levels of aggression. A tired brain, run down by the stimuli of city life, is more likely to lose its temper.

Long before scientists warned about depleted prefrontal cortices, philosophers and landscape architects were warning about the effects of the undiluted city, and looking for ways to integrate nature into modern life. Ralph Waldo Emerson advised people to "adopt the pace of nature," while the landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted sought to create vibrant urban parks, such as Central Park in New York and the Emerald Necklace in Boston, that allowed the masses to escape the maelstrom of urban life.

Although Olmsted took pains to design parks with a variety of habitats and botanical settings, most urban greenspaces are much less diverse. This is due in part to the "savannah hypothesis," which argues that people prefer wide-open landscapes that resemble the African landscape in which we evolved. Over time, this hypothesis has led to a proliferation of expansive civic lawns, punctuated by a few trees and playing fields.

However, these savannah-like parks are actually the least beneficial for the brain. In a recent paper, Richard Fuller, an ecologist at the University of Queensland, demonstrated that the psychological benefits of green space are closely linked to the diversity of its plant life. When a city park has a larger variety of trees, subjects that spend time in the park score higher on various measures of psychological well-being, at least when compared with less biodiverse parks.

"We worry a lot about the effects of urbanization on other species," Fuller says. "But we're also affected by it. That's why it's so important to invest in the spaces that provide us with some relief."

When a park is properly designed, it can improve the function of the brain within minutes. As the Berman study demonstrates, just looking at a natural scene can lead to higher scores on tests of attention and memory. While people have searched high and low for ways to improve cognitive performance, from doping themselves with Red Bull to redesigning the layout of offices, it appears that few of these treatments are as effective as simply taking a walk in a natural place.

Given the myriad mental problems that are exacerbated by city life, from an inability to pay attention to a lack of self-control, the question remains: Why do cities continue to grow? And why, even in the electronic age, do they endure as wellsprings of intellectual life?

Recent research by scientists at the Santa Fe Institute used a set of complex mathematical algorithms to demonstrate that the very same urban features that trigger lapses in attention and memory -- the crowded streets, the crushing density of people -- also correlate with measures of innovation, as strangers interact with one another in unpredictable ways. It is the "concentration of social interactions" that is largely responsible for urban creativity, according to the scientists. The density of 18th-century London may have triggered outbreaks of disease, but it also led to intellectual breakthroughs, just as the density of Cambridge -- one of the densest cities in America -- contributes to its success as a creative center. One corollary of this research is that less dense urban areas, like Phoenix, may, over time, generate less innovation.

The key, then, is to find ways to mitigate the psychological damage of the metropolis while still preserving its unique benefits. Kuo, for instance, describes herself as "not a nature person," but has learned to seek out more natural settings: The woods have become a kind of medicine. As a result, she's better able to cope with the stresses of city life, while still enjoying its many pleasures and benefits. Because there always comes a time, as Lou Reed once sang, when a person wants to say: "I'm sick of the trees/take me to the city."
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Labels: Man and Nature, natural world, nature, nature walks
Friday, October 02, 2009

For more widgets please visit
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Thursday, October 01, 2009
Keeping Horse Manes and Tails Beautiful

It’s a popular notion that the hair is a person’s crowning glory. If you spot someone in a crowd that may not be considered pretty by normal standards, a great hair cut and lustrous tresses can almost always sway a judgment. Gorgeous hair is a priceless asset, and the dozens of hair salons in every city are a testament to this.

Keeping your horse’s mane and tail beautiful is one of the most important steps in having a gorgeous horse. The difference between a beautiful mane and tail and a scraggly, thin mane and tail can make as much difference in a horse’s beauty as a person’s attractiveness.

The first step is to untangle the mess that often happens over winter. Start by untangling the hair and getting out all the dreadlocks. Don’t rush this process, as you don’t want to pull the hair out.

Work your way through the matted mane and forelock first. Start at one end of the mane and work your way slowly down the mane untangling one section at a time. Saturate sections of the hair with any over the counter detangler. Choose a large tangle, and slowly apply the product and separate the tangles with your fingers.

Start at the bottom of the tangle and work your way up to the roots. Work the product into the hair by using your fingers, and gently pull the hairs, a few strands at a time. Keep doing this until the knots and tangles get smaller and then are gone.

Repeat the same process with the tail once you have the mane and forelock untangled. You should stand to one side while detangling their tails, so you avoid being kicked by the horse. Help them maintain a calm and relaxed attitude by patting them gently, and then slowly move your hands down their necks and sides until you get to the tail.

Once their hair is free from tangles, it is now safe to brush their hair by using a stiff bristle hair brush. Never use a comb, which does nothing but pull hair out. Start brushing the bottom of the hair and then work your way up to the roots. Don’t use too much force, and make sure that you don’t stretch the hair while brushing.

Try to brush as gentle and slowly as you can. Patience is the key to leaving the most amount of mane and tail possible. It takes a long time to grow, so you don’t want to pull out what you have already grown by rushing this important step.

Beth Moore has been a leading authority on horse grooming and especially on growing long, thick manes and tails on horses for over 20 years. You can learn more about her methods and claim a free report on the benefits of owning gorgeous horses at FairyTale Horses
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The Fall Lineup
Here at The Natural Gait we are very fortunate to live alongside the Mississippi River Bird Migration Corridor. It is just a wonderful site to see Trumpeter Swans and Canadian Geese passing through in mass numbers and there are many more species of birds to see.

Here is an article that just appeared in

The best natural migration corridors occur in mountain ridges, river valleys, and along coastlines. Yet it's possible to see migrating animals just about anywhere. Here are some tips for enjoying the passing hordes.

Birds — Early morning often provides great looks at birds just finished with all-night flights. As the sun starts to rise, some birds that find themselves out over ocean waters or above the Great Lakes will suddenly head for the nearest land. Hundreds of birds can come pouring inland at these times, among them thrushes, warblers, vireos, and tanagers.

During daylight hours, the skies can be filled with everything from White Pelicans to Bobolinks. Expect lots of shorebirds, cormorants, terns, and gulls at the seaside and hawks, swifts, flickers, jays, swallows, and robins overhead almost everywhere.

Butterflies — Most people have heard about Monarchs and their fall migrations to the mountains of southern Mexico, but lots of other butterflies travel in autumn. Some even head north!

Watch in the same places that bird migrants concentrate for American Ladies, Question Marks, Red Admirals, and the more abundant Monarchs — all moving southward. By contrast, Cloudless Sulphurs may be headed north in fall, as their southern populations expand, and Painted Ladies and Common Buckeyes can be watched for flying north or south.

Dragonflies — Dragonfly watching is fast coming into its own on the North American nature scene. Partly that's because several excellent books have appeared to help folks tell these handsome creatures apart.

A small number of dragonfly species migrate in substantial numbers during the fall. Look for the monster Green Darner in particular and the world's most cosmopolitan dragonfly, the Wandering Glider. Others include the Black Saddlebag and the Carolina Saddlebag.

Mammals — Mammal watching is not nearly as easy as bird or insect watching. After all, the mammals first must be found, which usually involves some trekking, and they're not terribly cooperative subjects. Still, the rewards can be considerable.

Among the migratory mammals worth watching are some species of bats (Hoary, Silver-haired, and Red) that can occasionally be seen flying south during daylight hours along shorelines or even over bodies of water. Marine mammals, of course, can be observed from boats or coastal promontories. The large baleen whales occur in good numbers on their southward migrations and delight people even from a distance.

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Labels: Bird, Bird migration, Canada Goose, Mississippi River, Recreation
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