21 December 2014

Energy Group Official Speaks Disparagingly of Nebraska

A comment recently made in association with the Nebraska Renewable Energy Export Study, are a disparagement to Nebraska residents.

"The study shows how viable wind energy and development is in Nebraska, something all Nebraskans should be excited about," said Jeff Clark, executive director of the region-wide Wind Coalition.

What's obvious in this statement is a perspective that if you are a resident in the state, you just have to be excited about the report, done by a group whose mission is to encourage development of more extensive wind energy resources.

There are hundreds of Nebraska residents that are very much opposed to the construction of industrial-sized transmission lines, that would be used to transport energy out of the state. There is only a need to look at the extensive opposition to the proposed corridor of the R-Project to see a definite lack of excitement.

One of the most problematic recommendations of the report, is a need to "help foster" wind development through a production tax credit or investment tax credit. If a business wants to build wind-turbine facilities and transmission lines, they should cover the costs and not expect public funds to help them make a company or personal profit. Why should the Nebraska legislature be asked to help fund a special-interest development for someones personal monetary benefit?

If wind energy was economically viable, it should not require state or federal tax subsidies. It would not require that customers of power companies pay electrical rates that includes funds being used to construct power lines and substations that cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Many Nebraska residents do not want to lose important values associated with land resources. They do not want fragile prairie grasslands torn up or unique wetlands threatened by industrial power lines. They do not want flora and fauna threatened by huge new tower structures spread great distances across the country. They do not want to look out their window and always have to look at an ugly and massive power-line tower. And they certainly do not want to sacrifice their family ranch legacy so wasteful, promotional lights are lit all hours of the night in cities such as Omaha, and further eastward.

Wind proponents need to quit making blanket statements about what they think residents should want, and instead start to listen and stop making dubious and/or questionable statements that can be insulting to land-owner perspectives.
This is the third instance when delusion comments have occurred, either in newspaper reporting or associated with public comments.

Dignitary Dinner at New York City in 1825

"A letter from a gentleman at New York to Mr. Topliff, says the anniversary of independence was celebrated in that city, more brilliantly than ever. The corporation dinner, at which Gen. Lafayette was a guest, was in the style of getting up, superior to any former dinner. The Mayor, who presided, cut open a pie; from which flew a dove, bearing in its beak, a letter of recent date from France to Gen. Lafayette. The Mayor read it to the company: it was a poetical compliment to the General. The following Bill of Fare, of the New York Corporation, we publish for the benefit of our own city councils; it contains some rare dishes. An "Alderman in chains," must be a delicate tit-bit, for his colleagues to feast upon.

"First Course—Green Turtle and Lobster Soups, Black Fish, Sheep-heads, Trout, Roast and Alamode Beef, Boiled Legs of Lamb, Haunches of Mutton on Venison, Chines of Lamb, Fricandeaus, Boiled, Broiled, and Stewed Chickens, Roast Capons, Bubble and Squeak, Turley Poults, Gallinis, Ducks, Alderman in Chains, Hams and Tongues, Chicken, Sweetbread, Eel, and Pigeon Pies, Lobster Patties, Udder and Tongue, Baron of Beef.

"Second Course—Gallipagos Turtle Ragouts and Stews, Green Turtle Callipash, do. Callipee, do. Fins, do. Steaks, do. Ragouts, do, do. Pasties. Snapping Turtle Ragouts and Stews. Woodcock. Partridges. Wild Pigeons. Poulettes a la tartare, Saute Rognons de boeuf, Pieds de mouton a la poulette, Pieds de veau en marinade, Pieds de cochon a la St. Menebould, Tete de veau—Sauce piquant, Maccaroni, Saucissons de Bologne, Vegetable Pies, Langues fume, Galantines.

"Desert.—Plumb, Maccaroni, Lemon and Marrow Puddings, Fruit Tarts and Tartlets, Cheesecakes, Jellies, Blanc mange, Trifles, Syllabubs, Confectionary, Stilton Cheese.

"Fruit and Ices.—Pine Apples, Oranges, Water Melons, Raspberries, Cherries, Currants, Gooseberries, Apples, Pears, Conserves, Olives, Water Ices, Ice Creams, Roman Punch, Anchovy Toast."

August 1, 1825. Kentucky Reporter 18(31): 3.

12 December 2014

Comments to NPPD on R-Project

The r-project as proposed is not acceptable for many reasons. NPPD has not provided any documentation for the public to review in order to evaluate the proposed line corridor and how it was selected. NPPD has not given any public details indicating the need for such a high-capacity line. And it is not NPPDs role to subsidize private - for profit - turbine facilities in Cherry county, or elsewhere.

Also, the current corridor would be greatly detrimental to sandhills lands, along with its flora and fauna. The proposed corridor near Birdwood Creek is not acceptable due to the regular occurrence of the endanger whooping crane, trumpeter swans and a myriad of other fowl. There is no need to place a transmission line through the Carson Lake wetland complex and between lakes in the Chain Lake vicinity.

NPPD officials need to closely consider all comments and revise their plans accordingly. To not do so would be disingenuous. The environment and land heritage deserve as much attention as any monetary concerns.

10 December 2014

Findings for Verizon Cellular Tower at Hyannis Golf Course

Verizon Wireless has issued their findings to the Federal Communications Commission for the cellular communications tower to be placed at the Pelican Beach Golf Course east of Hyannis. The tower is designed to provide service to the village and its local airport.

This is a summary of the details associated with this tower — located along Highway 2 — as submitted via email by the applicant to the Federal Communications Commission (ASR Application No. A0916392) in mid-December:

* The 358-foot (109 meters) height tower will be a self-supported lattice structure that will not include any guy wires.

* A previous application to the FCC by Verizon was cancelled (August 26, 2014) due to a revision in the placement of the tower to the golf course site where access and utilities are available. An alternative site further north was rejected since the resident did not want a cellular tower on their property.

* Verizon has received permission from the FAA (Study Number: 2014-ACE-3331-OE) to utilize "avian-friendly" lighting system of “dual, medium intensity lighting without the use of the steady-burning side lights.” Also, any lights associated with “on-ground facilities should be down-shielded and/or motion-sensored to limit such lighting to within the tower compound.”

* A mid-November letter from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), in consultation on this tower, indicated “it appears unlikely that the proposed telecommunications tower would result in adverse effects to federally protected, threatened or endangered species, or to any critical habitat designated for such species.” An additional recommendation was that there be no “removal or impacts to vegetation during the extended nesting season.” If work is necessary, a qualified biologist should conduct an “avian pre-construction risk assessment of the affected habitats to determine the absence or presence of breeding birds and their nests." A qualified biologist will be engaged "if construction cannot be scheduled outside of the specified dates, to complete an avian pre-construction risk assessment and ensure breeding birds and/or nests are not present prior to construction,” according to the FWS. letter, submitted by Eliza Hines, acting supervisor of the Nebraska Field Office. The agency also requested receiving a written report if a bird survey is done.

* In early November, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) concurred with a finding of “not likely to impact” any state-owned property, including Avocet WMA, nor “likely to have any adverse impacts on state-listed threatened or endangered species.”

The NGPC letter also indicated: “We have grown increasingly concerned about the recent increase in tower construction across Nebraska and impacts that this might have on populations of migratory birds,” wrote Carey Greel, an environmental analyst with the state agency. “Aerial photos of the site show the tower would be located in close proximity to an area dense with Sandhill wetland landscape features. These wetlands provide migratory and nesting habitat for numerous migratory bird species, and we have records of trumpeter swan and long-billed curlew, both Tier 1 species identified in our Nebraska Natural Legacy Plan, using wetland and grassland habitats in the area. Tier 1 species are those that are globally or nationally most at-risk, and which occur in Nebraska.”

The other tower at Hyannis (just west of Highway 61) and at Whitman (northward of Doc Lake), have not yet been submitted to the FCC for review as of early December, according to spokesperson for the federal agency. Of the three cellular towers proposed for Hyannis and Whitman, only the golf-course tower has undergone a complete pre-construction review.

Each of the three towers have, however, already undergone an environmental review by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, with similar findings for each tower structure.

An attempt to determine further information on this tower was not successful in December. The request to the Federal Communications commission was limited. Results of the terse inquiry were:

Regarding the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway and how there will be mitigation on the impact of a new structure along Highway 2:

Requester for the first time suggested that the tower may impact the viewscape along the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway. This e-mail was neither addressed to the FCC nor styled as a reply comment. Moreover, even if we were to treat it as a reply comment, new issues ordinarily may not be raised on reply and Requester has shown no reason why he could not have raised this assertion earlier. In addition, Requester has made no effort to explain how the proposed tower may adversely affect the Scenic Byway.

No information was provided either on the features of the tower, the expected date of construction, nor anything about how the tower will be built.

08 December 2014

Chickadee Poem of 1872

James Robinson.
Twenty little chickadees,
      Sitting in a row;
Twenty pairs of naked feet,
      Buried in the snow;
I should think you'd fly away,
      Where the weather's warm,
Then you wouldn't have to be
      Out there in the storm.
Pretty little chickadees!
      All the trees are bare;
Wouldn't you prefer to be
      Where the weather's fair?
All the other birds have flown
      South among the flowers;
There the snow-storms never come—
      Only summer showers.
Sorry little chickadees!
      Don't you know the way?
Can't you find the road to go
      Where it's always May?
Robins all have found it out,
      Wrens and blue-birds too;
Don't you wish you'd thought to ask,
      Ere away they flew?
Chilly little chickadees?
      I should freeze, I know,
If I had to live out-doors
      In the wind and snow
Don't you find it very cold
      For your little feet?
Don't you find it hard to get
      Anything to eat?
Hungry little chickadees!
      Would you like some bread?
I will give you all you want,
      Or some seeds instead,
Anything you like to eat,
      You shall have it free,
Every morning, every night,
      If you'll come to me.
Jolly little chickadees!
      Have you had enough?
Don't forget to come again
      While the weather's rough.
By-by, happy little birds!
      Off the wee things swarm,
Dancing through the driving snow,
      Singing in the storm!
February 23, 1872. Chick-a-dee-dee! Fort Dodge Times 4(20): 3.

Duncombe House Thanksgiving Dinner

The following ladies and gentlemen accepted landlord Flower's invitation to Thanksgiving dinner: Mrs. John F. Duncombe, Chas. Duncombe, W.E. Duncombe, Mr. and Mrs. Lisle Burnam, Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Johnston, Miss McBride, Mr. and Mrs. Loomis, Mr. and Mrs. W.A. Berry, Mr. and Mrs. Crawford, Miss Crawford, Mr. Lew Raber and sister, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Dixon, Charles Weider, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Colby, Mrs. Schaffner, Lew Loomis. Other guests were present, being invited by the regular boarders. The repast was elegant in every particular, and the grandest dinner that our city has seen for many a day.

Long live Flower and the Duncombe, and when Thanksgiving comes again may our appetite again be as completely satisfied. Below is the menu.

A La Bernols. Oysters, Windsor Style.
Lake Michigan Trout, Regency Sauce
Salmon, a la Cardinal.
Corn Beef and Cabbage.
Leg of Mutton, with French Capers.
Buffalo Tongue, a la Royal.
Chicken, with Egg Sauce.
Cherry Roll, with Hard Sauce.
Bronzed Venison, a la Villerof.
Unjointed Teal Duck, Port Wine Sauce.
Matolotte of Peaches, with Rice Snow Cream.
Oyster Pates. Snipe on French Toast.
Wild Pigeon Pie, a la Neopolitan.
Simmered Broiled Quails, with Toasted Cheese.
Cold Entrees.
Rouletto of Lamb. Brown Rice of Mutton.
Chicken Salad, au Gratin. Corn Beef.
Westphalia Ham, Champagne Sauce. Hearts.
Lobster Salad. Escolloped Fowls.
Minced Meat Pressed, with Fine Herbs.
Wild Goose, with Strawberry Jam.
Boned Turkey.
Beef, with Brown Gravy.
Black tailed Deer, with currant Jelly.
Turkey, with Cranberry Sauce.
Buffalo, with Sweet Herb Dressing.
Antelope Plain Sauce.
Snow-flake Potatoes, Browned and Mashed.
Turnips. Peas, a la Cream.
Parsnips. Baked Asparagus.
Steamed Sweet Potatoes. Canned Corn.
French Mustard. Chow-Chow.
Halford Sauce. Boston Pickles. Horseradish.
India Soy Sauce. Pepper Sauce.
Pumpkin Pie, with Honey. Apricot Pie.
Plum Pudding, Brandy Sauce. Mince Pie.
Spanish Ice Cream. Russian Cream.
Jelly Tarts. Scotch Jelly. Lemon Jelly.
Sherry Wine Jelly. Frozen Rice.
Lady Fingers. Coconut Cake. Jelly Roll.
Cup Cake, Flowered Frosting. White Cake.
Coffee Cake. Charlotte of Lemons.
Puff Paste Walnuts.
Candies and Nuts Assorted.
Layer Raisins. Apples. Oranges. Grapes.
Coffee Tea. Cheese. Milk.
December 1, 1883. The Duncombe House Dinner. Northwest Chronicle 1(6): 3. Issued at Fort Dodge, Iowa.

06 December 2014

Whooping Cranes Occur Along R-Project Corridor

The following is the text of an email received, and is presented here to convey the timely information.

"The Whooping Crane Pictures were taken North of Sutherland, just south of the North Platte River and just west of Prairie Trace Road around noon on November 15th of 2014 by Rick Jackson on Kennedy Farms. The Proposed R-Project 345KV Transmission line would be running just across the road on the east side.

"There is a juvenile Whooper in the middle of the pictures of the two adults. Two groups of three (one group of 3 adults and one group of 2 adults and 1 juvenile) were observed by Larry Kennedy from November 15th through the 17th. The Crane Trust was contacted and is currently doing the official documentation.

"It is more proof of this being a highly used area by Whooping Cranes. In the last round trip of the Whoopers migratory route in 2014 from Canada to Texas the Whoopers would have been in danger of colliding with the Proposed R-Project twice. This being when they picked the North Platte River (November 2014) and the Birdwood Creek (April 2014) as a place to stop over to rest and feed and in very close proximity to the proposed line location. The two confirmed sightings are approximately 7 miles apart and both adjacent to the Proposed line.

"There were other two alternate routes proposed to Nebraska Public Power District ("east of North Platte alternative" and "west of GGS alternative") that were reviewed by NGPC and the USFWS to have less of an impact on Migratory Birds were proven this year that they would have had less on an impact on Whooping Cranes!

"The main reason again for not following through with these alternatives to avoid these highly sensitive areas were it would cost more money (93 percent funded by the Southwest Power Pool) and reliability (line separation). One can't put a price on a species such as the Whoopers when the difference between existence and none existence may be due to poor routing decisions made such as this one.

"The endangered Whooping Cranes should be added to the Environmental Impact Statement currently being conducted by the USFWS for the known take of the endangered American Burying Beetle in the construction of the Proposed line. The reason the Whoopers can't be added as the headliner on the E.I.S is that one will not know the damage the constructed line will cause in these areas until after the fact and the damage is already done. Even then there are only around 30 Whoopers or 10 percent of the last remaining wild migratory flock of 300 with transmitters to track them. So, about 90 percent of the time when a Whooper hits a power line its death will go down as unknown. As most of the collisions they will fly off injured, get hauled off by a coyote or float down stream. At this point the NPPD and the SPP still have the option to avoid these highly sensitive areas with huge numbers of migratory birds and Whoopers, but will likely make the decision based on lowest one time cost for the project not the perpetual environmental affects.

James R. Fleecs

Picture taken by Rick Jackson.

Second Annual Thanksgiving Bird Survey of East Omaha Parks

The second annual survey of birds present at east Omaha parks occurred during on two days following the 2014 Thanksgiving holiday. Weather was especially fine, with temperatures on Friday in the mid 50s. On Saturday it was so pleasant that the entire day could have been spent afield, with the relative warmth and insignificant winds, with the temperature peak in the mid 60s.

Surveys on Friday occurred at Carter Lake and Levi Carter Park, Hummel Park and N.P. Dodge Park.

On Saturday, places of interest, as trod upon by boots on the ground, were Mandan Park and the Mandan Flats to the east along the Missouri River, Spring Lake Park and then, subsequently Memorial Park and Elmwood Park places. Ancillary notes were kept for the Carthage neighborhood, north of Dundee Place in midtown.

A fine variety of wild birds were seen during the hours outdoors. Every record of a bird observed was denoted and then subsequently indicated in an appropriate manner as a database record with stringent limitations associated with species, locale, number, source, etc. Everything has to fit together in a relational manner for the database details, in order to conform with strictures.

These are the results of the wonderful birds appreciated during the hours afield:

Common Name Hummel District Dodge Park District Carter Lake District Carthage District Memorial Park District Elmwood Park District Spring Lake Park District Mandan District
Cackling Goose - - - - 15 - - - - - - - - - -
Canada Goose - - - - 2500 - - - - - - - - - -
Gadwall - - - - 35 - - - - - - - - - -
Mallard - - - - 760 - - - - 2 - - - -
Northern Shoveler - - - - 50 - - - - - - - - - -
Redhead - - - - 20 - - - - - - - - - -
Common Goldeneye - - 1 35 - - - - - - - - - -
Hooded Merganser - - - - 8 - - - - - - - - - -
Ruddy Duck - - - - 5 - - - - - - - - - -
Pied-billed Grebe - - - - 3 - - - - - - - - - -
Bald Eagle - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - 1
Cooper's Hawk - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - -
Red-tailed Hawk - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1
American Kestrel - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - -
American Coot - - - - 750 - - - - - - - - - -
Ring-billed Gull - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Mourning Dove - - - - - - 1 - - - - 7 - -
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1 - - 1 1 - - 4 1 1
Downy Woodpecker 1 2 1 1 1 2 2 2
Hairy Woodpecker 1 - - 1 - - - - - - - - 1
Northern Flicker - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 1
Blue Jay 3 1 1 3 1 - - - - 1
American Crow - - 2 - - - - 1 - - - - - -
Black-capped Chickadee 5 7 2 2 8 2 2 3
Tufted Titmouse 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 3 3 1 1 - - 2 3 3
Brown Creeper - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1
Carolina Wren - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2
Winter Wren - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 - -
Golden-crowned Kinglet - - - - - - 4 4 - - - - - -
Eastern Bluebird - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1
American Robin - - - - 2 - - - - 34 2 1
European Starling - - 15 18 3 - - 9 - - - -
American Tree Sparrow - - 10 - - - - - - - - - - 4
Fox Sparrow - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - -
White-throated Sparrow - - - - - - 2 - - - - - - 1
Harris's Sparrow - - 8 - - - - - - - - - - - -
White-crowned Sparrow - - 2 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dark-eyed Junco 1 6 4 6 6 13 1 5
Northern Cardinal 1 1 1 2 - - 1 2 2
House Finch - - - - - - - - 2 - - 2 2
American Goldfinch - - 1 2 - - - - 1 2 2
House Sparrow - - 2 - - 10 - - - - - - - -

Overall, there were many wonderful moments among the wild birds, as they went about their normal activities of November. More particularly, the 43 different species observed at the different places was different from the 2013 survey, when 46 species were seen.

There was a comparatively lesser number of species present at multiple sites. This is an abbreviated tally of comparisons:

  • N.P. Dodge Park: 16 species in 2014 (17 species in 2013); notably missing was the Pileated Woodpecker, with the reason for their absence not known
  • Carthage: 13 species about the neighborhood in 2014; only six species were noted during this same period of time in 2013, so obviously the extent of any birds present during this year, was based upon only a limited perspective
  • Mandan Park: 10 (13) and Mandan Flats: 12 (18); overall the comparative difference was twenty species in 2014 in comparison to 24 in 2013
  • Carter Lake: 11 (12) and its associated Northwest Pond Natural Wildlife Area (8); the twelve species in 2014 compares to 24 in 2014; the weather conditions and extent of open water associated with the lake were a primary factor in the number and species of birds present
  • Spring Lake Park - North F Street Woods: 8 (11); overall at the park in 2014 there were twelve species present; the tally for 2013 was 21; the species present as surveyed in a similar manner indicated a dramatic decline in the wild birds present
  • Elmwood Park Ravine: 7 (8); ten species in 2014 versus sixteen overall in 2013 for the habitats associated with this park space
  • North Hills, Hummel Park: 6 (16); for the district, there were only nine species noted in 2014 versus 19 in 2013
  • Memorial Park: 6 (additional species were noted along the east and west side creeks); eight species in the district in 2014 versus only five in 2013); one primary difference between the 2014 and 2013 surveys was closer attention to bird activity among the conifers on the edges of the rose garden.

Further comparative details can be derived in a some manner for these specific surveys. An analysis could readily compare particular species and numbers at a specific locale. Two years of results allow some comparison, but they aren't enough to establsh any sort of trend. There are also enough details sufficient to consider a monthly evaluation, especially for the Carter Lake vicinity.

This information is available in association with a personal database where details have been denoted in specific detail, one record at a time, for past decades.

In regards to this survey, two years of results allow some comparison, but they aren't enough to establsh any sort of trend, though there is no attempt to establish anything other than a perspective of birds present at some place and at some point in time.

December Season Game Suppers at Quincy

Prominent among the chronicles are reports of the holiday season game dinners at Quincy, Illinois. As this place had a vibrant game market, wild birds and other sorts of game were featured at many meals through the years. In the 1880s, details for game suppers were conveyed by newspaper reports.

Early in December of 1882, a "Royal Supper" occurred, according to a report in the Quincy Daily Herald, issued on December 7, 1882.

"Mr. John Seaman, as every one in Quincy knows, enjoys a hunt about as well as such a thing can be enjoyed by any man; and the men who are more successful than he, when he starts out with his gun, are few and scattering.

"The last hunt that Mr. Seaman took was last Monday, and the game he brought in was quails and rabbits.

"Next to killing game Mr. Seaman enjoys having his friends gather about him to help him eat it; so Wednesday evening he invited a few of his friends to his house to help him dispose of a portion of the game that he had bagged Monday.

"No game supper was ever better served or more thoroughly enjoyed. Those who have ever enjoyed a supper of this kind with Mr. Seaman know what this one was; and for those who have never had this pleasure, it is useless to attempt a description. We can sum the matter up in one short sentence: It was perfect, and the enjoyment was as perfect as the supper.

"It is the sincere wish of Mr. Seaman's numerous friend in Quincy that he may live many years to enjoy his gun and the suppers that he gives as a supplement to his sports in the field. Life is made dearer and richer by just such little episodes as this that took place at Mr. Seaman's last night. The storm without was fierce and bitter; but within this comfortable home was summer warmth and geniality and joy." — Quincy Daily Herald, December 7, 1882

In the spring of 1883, the European Hotel was a new establishment in town. Its address was 27 and 29 North Sixth, amidst the business district. E.B. Morehouse was the "popular proprietor," according to paper details.

There were other prominent reports given on the newspaper pages for the annual events when people gathered and enjoyed a variety of edibles featured at the game supper.

Though details could not be readily found on the first suppers, the details for 1885 are indicative. The fourth annual supper, sponsored by Mr. E.B. Morehouse, occurred at the European Hotel on December 22nd. The "Bill of Fare" was:

Oyster. Chicken.
Stuffed Lake Trout, Claret Sauce.
Boned Wild Turkey.
Stuffed Saddle of Venison, Currant Jelly.
Wild Goose, French Jelly.
Smothered Partridge.
Boiled Pheasant on Toast.
Teal Duck with Jelly.
Quail on Toast.
Rocky Mountain Black Bear.
Fox Squirrels.
Saddle of Mountain Sheep.
Escalloped Oysters.
Cold Dishes.
Boned Turkey. Roast Beef.
Chicken Salad. Lobster Salad.
Stewed Corn. Radishes.
Mashed Potatoes.
Mushrooms. Stewed Tomatoes.
French Peas.
Piccalilli. Cucumber Pickles.
Cold Slaw.
Coffee. Tea. Chocolate.
Fruit, Ice Cream, etc.
White. Graham.
Crackers, all styles.

The supper was served from 9 to 1 o'clock, and was a resounding success, as reported.

"The fourth annual game supper served by E.B. Morehouse, at the European hotel, last night, was a remarkable success. Nearly two hundred citizens enjoyed the spread prepared by Mr. Morehouse. The supper commenced at 9 o'clock and was not concluded until after 1 this morning. An orchestra furnished music during the four hours of the supper. Many prominent people, including city and county officials, merchants and their ladies, enjoyed the supper and pronounced it the best that had ever been served in Quincy." — Quincy Daily Herald

"Taken altogether the supper was a grand success, the greatest by far of the four served by Mr. Morehouse. It is known to many that Mr. Morehouse is the only man who had the nerve to serve a game supper in Quincy. For this he deserves credit."

The next annual game supper was prominently mentioned in the local newspaper, well before it occurred. Mr. Morehouse was described as the "prince of caterers when it comes to game dinners." The menu was explained as one that "will equal the famous game supper recently given at the Grand Pacific, Chicago." There was a large demand for tickets, according to the news report.

"The fifth annual game supper at the European hotel, given by Ed. B. Morehouse, occurred last evening, and was attended by many of the prominent citizens of Quincy. Over 150 tickets were sold, which shows that the game suppers have become a popular feature."

The following was the bill of fare:

Clam. Chicken.
Baked Black Bass.
Stuffed Lake Trout, Claret Sauce.
Wild Turkey.
Saddle of Venison.
Prairie Chicken.
Coon. Wild Goose.
Teal Duck. Partridge.
Quail. Pheasant.
Cinamon Bear.
Gray Squirrel.
Mountain Sheep.
Oyster Pie.
Broiled Clams. Oysters all Styles.
Cold Dishes.
Boned Turkey. Mountain Sheep.
Lambs' Tongue.
Chicken Salad. Lobster Salad.
Stewed Corn. Radishes.
Mashed Potatoes.
Mushrooms. Stewed Tomatoes.
French Peas.
Queen Spanish Olives.
Cucumber Pickles. Sardines.
Tripe Salad.
Coffee. Tea. Chocolate.
Fruit and Ice Cream.
White. Brown. Graham.

This eventful meal was another of the many which were certainly an epicurean's delight. Each gathering was undoubtedly an opportunity for people of the community to get together in camaraderie. They were certainly a celebration of the season, and a time of enjoyment.

Subtely, they convey a sense of the types of wild birds served at the fine eatery establishments of Quincy, located on the bank of the Mississippi River.

Jobber's Canyon Demolition Omahas Greatest Loss of Swift Chimneys

For decades following their construction in the late 1800s as business places for Omaha and to the west, the big, brick buildings along the Missouri River riverfront had big chimneys. Their purpose was ventilation, yet they also meant something to the bugeaters ... that being Chimney Swifts which certainly used the structures to one extent or another.

There are no details that associate the building chimneys with the roosting of swifts. Though, based upon known habits of these birds that utilize large chimneys as roost sites during the autumn season, the chimney features of the buildings were suitable for swifts. The buildings among Jobbers Canyon, along the Missouri River frontage, each had a significant chimney, and each of them might have been used as a roost for migratory swifts.

A number of historic buildings were present, as indicated by online information.

Specifics are certainly lacking. During the years prior to their destruction, no person was attentive enough to consider the association between the chimneys and the swifts, and made any attempt to determine the number of swifts that occurred.

After an expansive, urban debate, the numerous buildings in eastern Omaha, among the jobbers canyon district, were demolished in 1989, associated with what — at the time — was an urban renewal project. So many places with prominent chimneys were demolished in entirety, including:

The skyscape does not convey details of interest, yet the perspective is indicative of the overall scene. There was a vast variety of chimneys present.

Any particular use by Chimney Swifts is not known, but the habits of this species are indicative and former behavior can be interpreted. So the bug-eaters would have utilized these chimneys to one extent or another. One or another of the places might have been more important during one year or another. There may have been one particular chimney which was especially appreciated by the migratory birds. This was certainly the case, based upon common knowledge, through interpretation, decades later.

Sadly, particular details are unknown, and only a subject of speculation.

Factual indications convey that large chimneys are important places for swifts to roost during the autumn season. As far as habitat and character, buildings amidst Jobbers Canyon were, undeniably, an important area that provided multiple roosts available for migratory swifts.

05 December 2014

NPPD Opinion Presented as News

A recent report and article by the Nebraska Radio Network presented opinions of the Nebraska Public Power District as news.

The article, available online, indicated that all Nebraskans will benefit from construction of the R-Project. A representative of the utility company was quoted as saying that construction of the line will ... "benefit all of our customers throughout the state."

There were no details given on the factual basis for this comment. It is simply the opinion of the corporation which is promoting the transmission line, and facilitating private — for profit — development of wind turbine facilities within the sandhills.

There is no known survey with results available for the public to consider, that might indicate the point-of-view of "all our customers" to determine if they would benefit? IF NPPD is going to make claims associated with the r-project, they need to provide the facts upon which they they are based.

The reality is that, based upon numerous comments given at several public hearings, the majority of speakers were opposed to the transmission line corridor, so they have obviously indicated that they would not benefit from the current r-project plans.

The primary focus of this article was not news and should be indicated to be an opinion piece. The reporter is doing a disservice to readers to present it otherwise.

02 December 2014

Demise of a Wren's Winter Haven in the Hollow

As a feathered mite of the great north arrived at its winter quarters soon after the first chills of autumn, it found a safe place among the canopy of trees around ever-flowing groundwater springs. This haven in the woods were a haunt where it had already spent previous winter seasons.

Each day of the 2014 autumn it ventured among the space, in search of a tasty bit, chittering along its way. As each of its needs for food, shelter and water were met, the little wren settled in to spend the next few months of its life-cycle, so it could then mightily fly northward in early spring to return to the boreal breeding grounds.

As the Winter Wren foraged about during one day, great noises were soon readily heard, though not understood. The sounds meant nothing to the little bird, but its fate was closely twined with the encroachment. The wren felt the earth rumble among its space at Spring Lake Park. There was an incessant whine heard as stately trees of many sorts were deliberately cut down with intent, though the bird had no known cognition of the sounds of a chainsaw. There were nearly constant, mutted thuds as portions of large trees fell heavily to the ground. Many trees were just torn from the ground in their entirety. All the woody debris was then carried away and piled for eventual chopping into mulch by huge mechanical equipment. Indifferent men working for measly dollars operated the machines, as defined within a contract of basic words on paper, as certainly signed by bureaucrats.

Nearly day-after-day, week after week, activities of destruction continued, unabated.

The wren responded in its own way, as its habitat was incessantly destroyed with intent for the supposed benefits of people completely ignorant of the life and ways of wrens in these woods. A cousin, the Carolina Wren was also losing habitat, along with so many other species of wild birds.

View northward from F Street into Spring Lake Park. Photo taken 30 November 2014.

The unexpected noises came closer and closer to the wren's haven in the hollow. Soon the woody deadfall and tree places that were once a place for this bird to forage, disappeared. Places where the flow of springs meant open water that provided tidbits to eat were simply gone, replaced by a vast expanse of barren ground devoid of any sort of vegetation.

As its habitat diminished, bit by bit, the wren kept to a smaller, safe haven within the park's remaining green space. By the end of November, its winter quarters were just one tiny portion of a hollow, north of F Street in the park. The expanse was too small to provide sufficient food. The distance to the next best place to forage was far away, in comparison to the birds small size, and yet further away to the south there was a protected spring that still flowed.

This little wren was enjoyed by a watcher at the end of November in 2014. It chirped and displayed as its species is wont to do during the winter-time months in Omaha. The active bird was the best moment during the birdmans stroll among the woodland destruction. It was perched upon a log in a "safe" hollow and was so expressive. The watcher knew that this portion of the park was once a haven for other winter wrens, but the situation for the last wren was obvious on a Saturday morning.

The lowland habitat of north F Street habitat was mostly destroyed. Lath markers on the south side of F Street indicated further clearing along the flowing brook where Winter Wrens had previously been seen on different, seasonal visits during the past decade. These tiny birds were certainly there previously, but no one took the time to look and appreciate this minuscule denizen of the park.

Whether enough suitable habitat remains for the Winter Wren to survive the harsh days of frigid winter is known only to the little bird. The City of Omaha has effectively decimated prime habitat for this species. Further work will continue the destruction south of F Street. City of Omaha officials and some residents of the Spring Lake vicinity have approved the destruction.

The wren did not have a vote about this CSO! project, yet it and an entire other multitude of birds suffer the most due to a loss of habitat. There will be no replacement of the springs in the cleared hollow, as it will become a pond. The northern extent will eventually become a stormwater retention facility.

The community has already "sung" praises for the result, since they expressed words of support at public meetings.

There were few speakers for the birds when City of Omaha officials, in their blah suits and ties spoke at public forums. There were no sorts of feathered beings present, as it is obviously impossible for them to present any sort of comment or perspective. The CSO! project manager and other City of Omaha officials appear to be indifferent to birds, rather being focused on cost analysis, available sites for projects, completion of goals, filing reports, etc.

The Winter Wren will strive to survive, though the habitat where they formerly survived will never be replaced.

A similar situation can be conveyed for the east side of Westlawn cemetery. What was once a place for this species of wren is now a desolate place, without any indicative winter birds, because of the complete removal of trees associated with a CSO! project, as partially funded by the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

As far as the wild wrens and other wild birds, they have no choice but to deal with what the mighty men force upon the land.

Birds get little respect as they suffer the most from loss of habitat. They don't understand what is happening, and are forced to adapt in their manner.

The "fat-cat bureaucrats" get a regular check every week to nourish their needs, ensconced in big houses. They get paid to destruct places so important to birds!

Yet, the birds are forced to change their ways to suit the incessant demands of people upon the land.

At Spring Lake Park, so many wild birds need to find new sources of food. Nuthatches wonder what happened to a tree upon which they had once found something to eat. A Red-bellied Woodpecker has a similar sentiment. And, alas, the little wren has been forced to find a new haven.

December 4, 2014.

There may be more bird species present once this project is completed simply because of the addition of the pond which will attract waterfowl, especially, perhaps, the Wood Duck. There may also be an addition of a wetland meadow situation north of the pond. However, for the next decade, there will be a lesser extent of woodland species simply due to the loss of woodland habitat. If someone is going to make an alternative claim, they need to provide the basis for their comment, and that is not achieved through an anonymous post.

Comments are appreciated, but anonymous postings are not preferred, as they inhibit a dialogue.

Public Disrespect Apparent During Park Visits

During several outings on the two days after Thanksgiving, there were several instances where a person's activity within an east Omaha parks showed disrespect, or in one instances was actually illegal. Otherwise, the activity may have been causing an unwarranted impact upon public green space.

This is a rundown of what was noted, either on November 28th or 29th, 2014.

Carter Lake
» The usual trash and scattered tires, but which is actually nothing atypical. It was undoubtedly too early on Friday morning for the usual antics to have yet gotten underway.
Hummel Park
» During a hike along the trails on the north side, more than two small plastic bags of cans were removed. A few of them were along the nature trail, but most of them were associated with the disc golf course. At one place along the course, instead of discarding the cans where they could be easily picked up, they were thrown over onto the hillside where the slope is so steep that it would be dangerous to retrive them. Most were cans from energy drinks or beer, the latter being illegal to drink in Omaha parks.
» Also associated with the disc course, there were at least two spots were small fires had occurred or been attempted. At one place, several trees had been scorched. It is not legal to have open fires within a city park.
» Worse of all, is the condition of the disc course fairways. They are barren dirt, with no ground cover to prevent erosion. Eventually there will be erosion problems. There also appeared to be further encroachment into the neighboring woods to widen the fairway beyond what had been previously allowed by Parks officials. Conditions associated with the disc course continue to worsen.
N.P. Dodge Park
» Along the eastern edge at the Missouri River, men were hunting waterfowl. The four guys were packing up and leaving when my bird hike reached this point later in the morning. Gear and guys filled the boat to an extent where its license number was obscured. Later, the hunters were seen leaving the nearby boat ramp parking lot, driving a black pickup with a license plate from either Douglas, Sarpy or Lancaster county.
» At the same spot, there was a hunting blind in place, partially covered with branches which had been cut from nearby. Ironically, a sign within the blind said "Private Property" so the owner of the thing thought he could place a something private on public property and think that he could keep others out.
» It is illegal to hunt in Omaha parks.
Mandan Park and Mandan Flats
» Gay men trolling for some action at the park. They are obvious as they drive through, or park and look around for a hookup, as this place has a reputation for this sort of activity. Upon my arrival, as usual on past times, there is a quick jaunt into the woods to get away from the roadside scene.
» Some sort of city-associated fill activity has occurred on the flats, as indicated by "fresh-looking" sediment control measures. The north portion of this area east of the park was barren of plants, and it appeared the fill had already occurred. Although the flats are not part of the park, the area is public property, apparently controlled by Public Works. The habitat along the river always has some interesting birds that contribute to the variety of avifauna in the area.
Spring Lake Park
» Destruction of hundreds of trees was well underway, for the "so-called" improvements associated with the CSO! project, as designed and being implemented by the Public Works department. Nothing illegal here, but of obvious interest to the neighborhood. Remaining at the big cut, were dozens of tires which supposedly were going to be removed, but still remain despite a few requests to the mayor of Omaha and the city council representative for the district.
Memorial Park
» Typical numbers of dogs running around and not on a leash. All dogs are required to be on a leash, according to a City of Omaha ordinance.
» The usual walker was present — with his dog on a leash — picking up trash as he does on a regular, nearly daily basis, and for which he has and should continue to receive accolades.
Elmwood Park
» A dangerous situation was discovered upon noticing a youth hacking away at some trees. During a brief conversation about how this destruction needed to be stopped, and that the saw needed to be put away, and cutting is not something to do to trees in the park, etc. Suddenly another pre-teen climbed out of a cave in the nearby, street-side embankment. The guy was a bit shorter than five feet, so the cave had to be of some larger size so he could disappear inside. They explained that they did not dig the cave. When asked what he would do if the bank collapsed and buried him, the reply was: "I'll call someone." Apparently he had not thought through how it would not be possible to call anyone if buried. This cave is located just east of the main entrance to the park, and is certainly a hazard that needs to be filled.
» South of Shadow Lake, a private landowner adjacent to the park has taken a portion of the woods to create a personal play space, north of back fence of their yard. The grass is mown and there are toys sitting around. A woman and three small children were seen at the place.
» Nearby, a "fort" was partially demolished. Associated with this dome made of sticks, as initially stabilized by pulled over live saplings (causing their nearly total destruction) was trash and graffiti. Written on one log were the words "Weed Angels" with another log having the curse word "f_ _k" as spray-painted with more than the required number of the letter u. Other sorts of spray-paint markings occurred on at least a half-dozen trees. There was another discussion here with the two pre-teens and another youth of a similar age, discussing the fort and what the people that built it have done to the site, including the already mentioned problems. The gist: forts that lead to these sorts of park ruination by those associated with them, should not continue to occur.
» Down the slope, a couple and their infant sat on the primary log of the graffiti grotto. Several trees here have multi-colored markings which have been created over a long period of time. The nearby underpass has its own mix of graffiti.
» At and near the grotto and bridge over Wood Creek — where three photographic sessions were underway — one of the women taking photographs was spraying fake snow on a bush to apparently add a wintry touch. When told this was vandalism to park vegetation, she said she would remove it, since her kit included some other sort of thing to do so.
» There were unleashed dogs elsewhere.

Parks Disrespect

This tally is indicative of the lack of respect which many visitors give to parks, as well as a lack of focus which allows these activities to occur, once and again, and again.

Illegal activities actually noted or indicated, in summary, were:

  1. Littering
  2. Drinking alcohol in a park
  3. Open fires within a park
  4. Hunting on park property
  5. Vandalism to park trees and shrubs
  6. Graffiti on park trees and facilities
  7. Dogs not on a leash

It is a sorry condition when parks get this sort of treatment. Obviously the more people present, the more prevalent will be miscreants.

Many other people were appreciating the parks and being outdoors on a late-November Saturday when temperature reaching the mid-60s, with light winds. It was very nice to be among the green, enjoying the birdly wonders.

At least a dozen pounds of aluminum cans were picked up — one-by-one — during these outings, and were then recycled.

25 November 2014

Lincoln Birders Study Waterthrush at Platte Park

Nesting season activities of several waterthrushes were well studied at Platte River State Park by Shari Schwartz and John Carlini, Lincoln birders.

“Curiosity about the mysterious lives of several Louisiana Waterthrushes resident at Platte River State Park inspired a fun project during the 2014 breeding season that consisted of near weekly surveys along Stone Creek to see what would (and wouldn't) be revealed,” the birders said.

Surveys started April 15 and lasted through September 13 when the last bird was observed," the birders said. Their search was focused solely on Stone Creek where they observed four territories, two nests, and one or more fledglings on each of the four territories. Two of the territorial boundary lines were determined by locations where males had repeated disputes, both by aerial battles and sing-offs (like a version of dueling banjos but featuring waterthrushes instead.) The third boundary line was speculative because no disputes were observed so location was based on singing males, foraging adults, and foraging juveniles who were easily identified by different hatch months.

The two birders were familiar with waterthrushes at the park, having observed them in previous years. "Louisiana Waterthrushes in our region have a preference for clear moving water in deep shade where they nest in stream bank cavities, which explains why Stone Creek is such a unique and desirable nesting site.

“A few memorable encounters included epic battles between the first and second territory males earlier in the season, always in the same location,” birders Schwartz and Carlini said. “They would chase each other across a big bend, chittering and dramatically attacking in flight. Sometimes the Louies were conspicuous but other times they were as invisible as little ninjas. They were active in the morning but late afternoon and early evening were also a good time to detect the birds calling and foraging.”

“A surprising twist to this year's breeding season was the late timing of the juvenile sightings, about a month later than last year,” they said, adding that a “major highlight of the surveys was observing and becoming familiar with several juveniles. A lone juvenile on first territory consistently used a small side stream as its nursery. Two siblings on fourth territory who were always accompanied by one adult, appeared to have their favorite spots as well. A very late nest with parents feeding nestlings was photographed July 8 on third territory and surely had to be a renest.”

“Louies can be one of the first eastern warblers to depart after breeding, leaving as early as July, but this year's entire crew stayed on Stone Creek through most of August.”

“They're such fantastic birds to watch, they don't give you warbler neck, they choose scenic locations for nesting, and their compulsive u-shaped tail bobbing is so endearing. Sometimes the juveniles almost lose their balance when perching because they just can't stop bobbing! It was a challenge to get photographs in shady low light conditions,” the birders said, “but we were able to get shots of a fourth territory juvenile on different dates and then compare the plumage development, most noticeably the streaking on the flanks which is absent when they're younger."

“Hopefully the limited habitat will endure at the park,” the birders said in an email. “We try to impress upon park management how special this species is, but what is ultimately needed is a system of keeping information permanently and easily available that would describe special and unique bird species at each individual Nebraska Game and Parks Commission unit where unique species occur. The description could include habitat needs and be available at a glance to park managers, park naturalists, and the general public. When new park superintendents take over management responsibilities, they currently have no way of knowing that information about their unit, especially if they're not a birder.”

A map of nests found to date and 2014 territories has been attached to an ebird checklist and can be viewed at this link along with additional photographs.

Future Unknown for Preeminent Omaha Chimney

A realty sign stating the availability for purchase of an midtown property portends an uncertain future for a preeminent Chimney Swift chimney within interurban Omaha.

The sign is placed on the Cuming Street side of the CenturyLink maintenance staff facility, located between there and northward to Izard Street, along 43rd Avenue.

Signage is only indicative of a change of ownership, but any change in the situations associated with the place can have massive ramifications for current uses. Previous values are often unknown by new owners, as they glibly buy a place and make significant renovations amidst their ignorance bliss for improvements to make them money. It might include demolition. It might include a change in the duct works. And it might, most sadly include something that will result in the demise of the chimney as an autumnal roost for Chimney Swifts.

The building was constructed in 1921, and so has been available for swifts to use for decades.

The key feature is the chimney of the structure. Numerous evenings have been spent denoting the number of Chimney Swifts which roost here in the autumn. This place has had more Chimney Swifts roost within the chimney on one evening than any other place at Omaha, based upon hundreds of counts. The peak count known occurred here, with more than 1500 present one evening during the 2014 autumn.

Certainly ... this feature ... this unique aspect and facet of Omaha's bird community, has only received any consideration from one swift watcher's perspective and continual consideration in recent years.

The building's owners have not discerned or learned any particulars associated with the chimney, from what is apparent and not presented anywhere on the company website. The same company has the name rights for the CenturyLink Center Omaha, and any Omaha birder recognizes that place as the most hazardous structure for migratory birds in Omaha.

The most obvious situation is that of ignorance.

What a mistake, as there are so many details to present that convey the multiple thousands of Chimney Swifts which have appreciated a night's haven within this distinctive brick chimney. To lose this place within the city-scape would be a blow to generations of swifts. Destruction of the sizable brick structure would lessen the ability of these birds to find a safe haven during autumn along the Missouri River migration route.

Consider these points, if you might...

It would continue to convey an indifference of Omaha developers and officials about the value of wild birds in the city environs. It would represent a situation where known bird facts are being ignored by city, county and state officials. It would indicate the complete lack of knowledge or support by local conservation groups. It would blithely convey that the annual gathering of swifts may no longer be appreciated by neighborhood residents.

And most importantly, it would not be a place where Chimney Swifts gather as they have for so many of their generations. The adults and young of the year gather and learn. They convey safe places where there might be a haven for some nights. The birds share their knowledge and learn.

It is simply something that would be so wrong in regards to something so important.

Markets Featuring Game in 1892 Omaha

Wild game, including various sorts of wildbirds, prominent among which was the prairie chicken and wild ducks, were a regular commodity at food markets of the early 1890s at eastern Omaha. As the regulatory seasons allowed, items brought from the country-side and from western portions of the state of Nebraska, arrived. Various brokers made their purchase and the edible fowl went onward to a market or store where consumers decided to purchase something for a meal.

When the particular report about the local business places of interest was issued, these businesses were all basically in the downtown district, east of 24th Street.

Game was mentioned as a product to be purchased, with most of the reports having a similar comment regarding that game was available in season. No particulars were indicated in regard to quantity or price, according to the source book, issued at Chicago.

These are the establishments featuring game for purchase.

C.F. Bressert.

This meat market was first opened in 1890 at 1921 Leavenworth Street. Fish, game and poultry were available during the season.

"... Mr. Bressert is prepared to supply in quantities to suit hotels, restaurants, private families and consumers generally, a special feature being made of family trade."

Orders were delivered free of charge.

Denton & Vogt.

A market operated by L.W. Denton and Otto Vogt at the northwest corner of 13th and Chicago Streets, in downtown. Their specialty was the "freshest and choicest of meats," with fish and game available in season.

This business had been originally established in 1882, and in 1892 the 22x44 feet store was "elegantly filled up with ash fixtures and marble-topped counters," where attentive clerks offered for purchase fresh beef, pork, veal, mutton, sausage, and, in fact, "all kinds of fresh and salt meats," according to the sketch account of the era.

Samuel Dreifuss.

This business as established in the late 1870s, originally had an address at 1517 Dodge Street. It then moved to 2010 Farnam Street. The pen-sketch indicated the business was one of "finest assortment" to be found on the West End. Product specialties were poultry and game.

"His prices are low and popular and his market affords a constant scene of activity during market hours."

Grand Central Market.

Messrs. R.E. and J.U. Welch, having arrived at the city from Boston seven years previous, operated this business at 2204 - 2206 Farnam Street, telephone 1511. The business front represented the both a meat market and grocery store.

"The whole is elegantly fitted up with ash fixtures, marble top counters, cashier's desk, electric lights, etc., and is by far the most attractive establishment of the kind in the city."

Fish and game were available in season.

Paul Henni.

Located at 730 24th Street in South Omaha, since 1891, after having moved from elsewhere in the metro area.

"Neatness and cleanliness are characteristics of this market, and a well selected stock of choice fresh beef, mutton, lamb, pork, veal, lard, sausage, hams, shoulders and in fact, of all kinds of fresh and salt meats, as well as of poultry, game, fish, fresh vegetables, etc., is carried. Swift's choice meats are always on hand."

This is another example of an Omaha market being run by a German immigrant.

Icken & Wohlers.

Messrs. G.W. Icken and Ed. J.H. Wohlers were copartners in a 20x70 foot establishment located at 1205 Howard Street, having been in business for years.

"... Everything in the way of country produce is handled by the firm: Butter, cheese, eggs, poultry, game, fresh vegetables, hides, pelts, etc."

Their pen sketch also indicated an extensive business in shipping products to eastern markets.

The People's Cash Market.

Geo. W. Kurz was the proprietor, having been situated for seven years at 1714 Nicholas Street. The

The source where these vignettes were published was "handsomely illustrated", but, alas, there were no images included for the places of particular interest.

Game Markets Gone

Not one of these businesses are extant in the modern era, at the same locality!