Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sister Sedge, and a return to cooking

Tuesday is a day off from running, but I did get in a nice easy 5 miler on Monday morning. Monday was another glorious day here in the Twin Cities. Temperatures were in the upper 50’s, with a little breeze and some slightly overcast skies. This was the nicest Memorial Day weekend weather wise that I can ever remember. Three solid days of comfortable temperatures and no humidity.

Over the last few days, I have taken more than a few walks to my local park to watch the sedge wrens, and I have relocated them every time. In fact, I also spotted one or more on each of my runs over the holiday weekend. They have been in the exact same area. I have also found an additional pair, and I suspect there are even more (now that I know the voice, I can hear others from locations deep in the swampy meadow!).

The reason I have been taking so many hikes to see the sedge wrens is because I learned they are extremely nomadic birds and tend not to stay in one area for very long. You may see several of them one year, but that is no guarantee they will return to the same spot. My Roger Tory Peterson field guide from 1980 describes them as “scarce and local.” I also read that because of their nomadic ways, these birds are not very well understood. I do believe the ones here must be nesting, or at least staking out some territory for nesting, so I am hoping they are going to stay for a little while.

These dainty birds with their upturned tails have been fascinating to me, and they quite a treat to watch. Their voice is not like the sweet, warbling notes similar to the other wrens I am more familiar with (namely the house, and the winter). It is this very abrupt, staccato chatter that gets progressively faster. I witnessed one sitting on top of a signpost doing his chattering, and his buddy across the path climbed to the very tip of a little shrub to talk back. It was very cute!

One of the sedge wrens I was observing was in relatively close proximity to the resident eagle’s nest. The wren was no more than 10 feet off the trail sitting on the branch of a shrub in plain view. It was the best view I had yet, and he stayed in that shrub for at least five minutes, seemingly communicating with another wren that was chattering back at him from deep in the weeds.

Two people came walking down the trail en route to see the eagle (I could hear them saying “Oh, there is the nest,” etc.) with cameras and binoculars in tow. The wren was singing up a storm and making quite a racket. These folks strolled past me and the wren without as much as a glance to see what the commotion was all about. Granted, the eagle is very cool. However, they walked right by this unique and somewhat unusual little songbird and have absolutely no idea what they missed seeing.

I e-mailed this story to my Dad and he responded with, “Some of the nature lovers are too busy to get to the destination and miss everything to see on the journey.” True words. It also reinforced a simple lesson I was taught, and that is to pay attention; I nearly missed out on finding the sedge wrens in the first place had I not stopped to see who was making the fuss. And, it also goes to show what you can find in your very own backyard if you just keep your eyes and ears open.

That is probably more than you ever wanted to know about the sedge wren. What can I say except that this was a most enjoyable discovery for me. But for now, let's shift gears completely and talk about cooking.

Since I had been gone for the previous couple of weekends, I did not have much of an opportunity to do any cooking. So I was pleased to have the chance to prepare some meals again.

On Sunday I made some chicken and pinto bean burritos, seasoned with chipotle and ancho peppers, and served with homemade guajillo chile salsa (sorry, no photos...It just looked like a big ‘ol stuffed tortilla and was not very photogenic!).

Monday night I made lasagna with Italian sausage, mushrooms, and a homemade tomato and red wine sauce. The Italian sausage was given to me by my folks and came from Old World Meats in Duluth (great sausage with a ton of flavor). It made for excellent lasagna.

It was good to get back in the kitchen!

Until next time,

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