Thursday, December 18, 2014

Park? ... Park? .... Did someone say Park!

Last night Old Man Winter returned to Kansas City in the form of snow.  Perhaps this was expected, as the polar vortex of early November let go to mild days and included 60 degree days near the end of November and early December. This is the story of one such unseasonably warm weekend day.

Trying to get our girls out early in the morning can be a challenge, and on weekends we are rarely out the door before 10. Thus on this fine day I left early to meet a birder from Manhattan at the Overland Park Arboretum. Birds were cooperative and the his desired Purple Finches appeared at the feeders.  I even tried to take a few photos, laying on the ground and almost dozing in the warm sun.

A Dark-eyed Junco and Tufted Titmouse from the Overland Park Arboretum feeder station.

Waiting in the garage?
Returning home around 10, Christine and I agreed we needed to get outside to enjoy the lovely warmth and lack of wind. After lunch we told the girls of this plan, with the intention of looking for winter gulls and finding a new park near Nelson Island.  Somehow they put shoes on and were ready quickly, hoping in the car in anticipation.  Perhaps it was the new movie, or the warm weather, but this observed behavior was completely unexpected.  Christine and I packed up in peace and quite, enjoying the time to have a conversation and catch up on with each other. We must have taken too long, as Michaela came in asking if we had forgotten about them.

We whiffed on winter gulls at Nelson Island but found a neat climbing tree.
We put all my bird search endeavors on hold as the family got distracted by park. Even though it was small in comparison, the new layout seemed to captivate the girls imagination. It also happened to be quite busy, being on a frequently used trail-head.

It doesn't seem natural yet to be laying in grass at the end of November in a short-sleeved shirt....but looking back man was it nice.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Weekend - Clubs/Friends

My Thanksgiving week blogs have focused on personal items of gratitude, memories, and have focused on areas of personal joy. This final Thanksgiving week post incorporates all three of these topics in one topic beyond family...which are clubs and friends. The most recent of which is described below.

I've immensely enjoyed the Burroughs Audubon Society since moving to KC 15 months ago. In attending a handful of their meetings and tagging along a few field-trips I am privileged to know other area birders and have been exploring the surroundings.

I am amazed at the generous kind nature of people when they are doing what they enjoy, and had a blast last weekend on a Burroughs field-trip. Seeing various species, enjoying the outdoors, debating specific field-marks, and helping others find new species is a different style of enjoyment than quite reflective times outside.

Binoculars, scopes, field-guides, friendly conversation, snacks and watchful eyes/attentive ears are common items on field-trips.

Many good memories come from other clubs and friends, too many to detail here....but as this week of Thanksgiving draws to an end my mind drifts to the Nine Springs Golf Course, Mead Wildlife Area, Hiawatha Valley Audubon Society, and friends/colleagues from previous locations/positions.  I'm grateful for all of them, and hope everyone had a wonderful week of thanksgiving. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving Week - Friday: Family

I started this week of Thanksgiving with family memories of mini-golf in Kansas City, Gateway Arch and City Museum in St Louis but now turn to other items of gratitude. The move last August to Kansas City was tough, as we left behind wonderful friends in Winona and moved further away from extended family. Family is very important to us and we make the one-way 9+ hour drive quite often.

We were in central Minnesota two weeks ago and were able to spend time with my sister and her family.  Below are three photos from the weekend.

I believe the toy plane crashed into the photographers head here, getting a reaction from all but Danielle and grandparents. 
Z man may have his work cut out for him as the only grandson.
Too often we forget to take family portraits, but luckily we had everything set up and a few willing volunteers.

As we talked to our parents today, I was reminded there are positives with being in Kansas City that offset the negative of missing family at the great distance.

Today's high was 67, and might have been one of a few in which you could not fly a kite.  We tried anyways.

We spent over an hour playing at the Wyandotte County Lake Park.  The item in the video below was vicious, and disorientated everyone quickly.  We perhaps played too long, as Danielle (Seen here on another VIDEO) was still feeling the effects an hour later.  The Lake has also hosted some amazing birds, but a quick scan tonight only revealed expected species.

 Canada Goose
My best digi-scoping picture to date, it doesn't really compare to my best photo from today however with the DSLR.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving - From Us to You

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

Below is the wrong button, out of focus (result of wrong button) outtake!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Week - Wednesday: St Louis

The three day conference in Saint Louis provided many activities and memories. I separate the pictures and videos into two blog posts, the first set can be seen here.  Below are memories from the second and third day.

City Museum 
The three girls visited the City Museum Friday while I was in conference, and they had so much fun they brought Dad back after visiting the Arch. The museum has many outdoor features to climb, with an airplane cockpit at the top of one staircase.  

There are many tunnels, slides, and large ball pit.

The highlight of the first visit was running into a KC classmate visiting the same St Louis museum!!
The rope swings required a bit of help to get on, but the girls hung once lifted on. 
A very steep slide; the phone's camera flash had no chance of capturing their movement!

Grant's Farm

The conference ended early on the third day.We went to Grant's Farm, owned and offered by Anheuser-Busch. The property was at one time owned by Ulysses S. Grant and currently has a tram ride through the wildlife park, houses some Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales, and provides samples to adult beverages!

More goats; What is it with St Louis and goats
The Clydsedale!!
Wildlife Park and Animal Show Pictures.

The Butterfly House

With afternoon hours almost gone, we had only ten minutes to spend inside the The Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House at the Missouri Botanical Gardens before heading home. Luckily our Overland Park Arboretum membership got us in for free, love the perks!


A few Lepidoptera from the house.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving Week - Tuesday: St Louis

A month ago I attended a three day conference in Saint Louis. I'm thankful for the wonderful job and fortunate the family tagged along during their Fall Break.

We checked in the conference hotel, which was right next to the Gateway Arch.  I hurried off to spend the rest of the day in sessions, with Christine and the girls exploring.

Their first stop was the Saint Louis Science Center.  

It isn't too hard to see the similarities between Michaela and Danielle.  Click here to be surprised at how one of them looks!

Their facial expressions reveal common emotions.
They went to the Saint Louis Zoo the morning of the second day.  

Both girls loved the goats.

Do sculptures really scream, "Climb on US!!!" to kids passing by?   

Late that afternoon I skipped the association's business meeting (Which was acceptable as a non-board member) and joined the three girls to visit the Gateway Arch.

Unfortunately we failed to get an entire family photo.  This photo has us a bit closer, but is not as fun.
The ride to the top was fairly quick, not very expensive, and a wonderful memory even if it was crowded. 

The view from the small windows had my body doing very abnormal things, but seemingly had no effect on Danielle. 

On our walk back to the hotel Michaela and Danielle gazed at the horse drawn carriages. They didn't get a ride as we had somewhere else to go that night, but they did get their picture taken.  Danielle even received a little kiss and nudge as well.

I'm thankful Christine took photos, as I was unable to share these memories with them. Luckily, my conference ended late morning of the third day and we had most of the last day together.