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Friday, December 7, 2012


Friday,  9:00 AM.  26 degrees F, wind W, calm at present.  It is again overcast with a patch or two of blue. Yesterday it turned windy and somewhat sunny in the afternoon and that seems to be the pattern, and hopefully today will take the same turn.    I did clean the chimney yesterday.
        First, let us remember that this is Pearl Harbor Day, and as FDR said, “a day that shall live in infamy.”  I am afraid there are fewer and fewer Americans alive who can remember that infamous day.  I myself was only five years old and do not remember the attack, although I  remember much of the rest of the war.  I do remember cousins and uncles going off to fight, and there are even some old  photos around somewhere of them in uniform.  Anyway most humans, and I think particularly Americans, do not normally dwell long on events of the past. Rather, we Americans at least, are futurists, and by and large that makes it easier for us to forget past grievances, and forgive.  Certainly most of us hold few grudges now against the Japanese.  But if we forget such things entirely, we risk history repeating itself.
        I have been telling readers about the continuing migration of tundra, also called whistling, swans, huge white native birds with black bills, easily distinguished from the European mute swans, which have yellow bills.
        The other day we saw one much larger swan in the tundra swan flock on the bay at Ashland, and further thoughts have led me to believe it may have been one of the now rather rare trumpeter swans, which I have read may travel with the tundra swan flocks.  This bird was really quite a standout.  Although I am not any kind of ornithologist or serious bird watcher, I did do some online investigation, and found that not only is the trumpeter much larger than the tundra swan, the tundra usually has a yellow mark just below the eye at the top of the beak, and the trumpeter usually does not.  The later also often carries its long neck in more of an “s” curve when swimming or taking flight, whereas the tundra swan swims with a straighter neck.  The trumpeter also has a communicative display in which it bobs its head and neck up and down while vocalizing as it swims.  If any reader has additional knowledge about swans please comment.  For more information go to the Trumpeter Swan Society website. Wisconsin has a large federal wildlife sanctuary near Necedah, where swans stop during migration. 
        In any case, we will be sure to take binoculars along on future Ashland trips.

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