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Christmas Bird Count 2014: Quiet

Participating in the annual Christmas Bird Count has become a tradition I look forward to eagerly. It's a chance to devote half a day, or more, to looking for birds and documenting the number of each species we see, as well as our time spent and mileage covered by car and on foot, to aid in interpreting the numbers reported. I've also written here about the Christmas Bird Counts of 2009, 20102011, and 2013. As in the past, we were assigned to a rural area east and south of Northfield, as well as a good portion of Northfield's east side.

Relatively mild at about 30-32 F. all morning, it was also gray and chillingly damp, though thankfully not windy. Ponds were frozen, while creeks were open. The mantra of the day for our group of four turned out to be, "Boy, it's really quiet out there." While we saw some decent action at a few homesteads that had well-stocked feeders, we came up dry at many others, including those at my own house. It wasn't always literally quiet, as we had an ample number of crows cawing raucously, but there were a lot of places that seemed unexpectedly bird-free.

Open water at the creek west of Dennison -- but no birds
The photo above is taken from the highway bridge just west of Dennison. Every year I get my hopes up for this creek, which often offers open water and seems so inviting from a human perspective, but once again there was nothing to see.

Here are our results for the morning. Occasionally birds (mostly chickadees and nuthatches) were identified by sound though not seen.

  • 2 Canada geese
  • 55 mallards, seen in many small groups overhead, flying with their characteristic rapid wingbeats, and in a large congregation on the open creek in the golf course
  • 1 ring-necked pheasant. Pheasant numbers are down so much in the last few years that this was now considered a lucky sighting.
  • 1 sharp-shinned hawk seen flying through woods (I missed seeing this. Darn!)
  • 1 red-tailed hawk
  • 19 rock pigeons (your standard barnyard or urban pigeon) on silos
  • 5 mourning doves
  • 1 red-bellied woodpecker
  • 5 downy woodpeckers
  • 1 hairy woodpecker
  • 12 blue jays
  • 52 American crows
  • 14 black-capped chickadees
  • 7 white-breasted nuthatches
  • 43 dark-eyed juncos, including a flock of 35 seen on the west edge of the Sibley School natural area
  • 5 northern cardinals
  • 39 house finches, the majority of them in one large group at a rural homestead with plenty of large trees and well-stocked feeders
  • 22 house sparrows, mostly in one large group at the pond west of Archibald Street and just north of Jefferson Parkway; we first caught sight of a few of them on top of and going into a wood duck box. 
This total of 18 species is the same as our total in 2011 (the last count I can find detailed notes for). Species seen then that we did not see yesterday included the European starling, wild turkey, American robin, American goldfinch, and northern shrike. Species seen yesterday that we did not see in 2011 included Canada goose, ring-necked pheasant, sharp-shinned hawk, rock pigeon, and hairy woodpecker. I always hope to see snow buntings or horned larks for the CBC, but there were none to be seen yesterday, nor (ambitious hope) a snowy owl, for which there have been sightings in Rice County in the past week or so.
Non-avian sightings included plenty of squirrels and, notably, a mink that was being eyed warily by a pair of mallards on Spring Creek on the east edge of Northfield.
I was happy to see several new participants at our Northfield-based count, including my longtime friend Mary, who came along in our group, as well as the now-familiar friends who are faithful to this effort. Thanks as always to Gene Bauer for organizing the bird count for the Northfield area, Gene and his wife Susan for their hospitality for the pre-count breakfast and post-count lunch, and the other bird enthusiasts, both experienced and developing, who showed up and helped make it a fun day of comradery and citizen science.
Categories: Citizens

West End Improv brings a new style of comedy to campus

Manitou Messenger - Sat, 12/20/2014 - 10:32am

Improvisational comedy is becoming one of St. Olaf’s hottest commodities, as packed houses at this year’s Scared Scriptless shows can attest. So when posters appeared around campus advertising the debut of West End Improv, students were understandably excited and filled the Hoyme Upper Lounge to capacity on Nov. 21.

The format of the show was a family dinner lasting about half an hour.  Each improviser (Denzel Belin ’15, Preston West ’16, Allison Lonigro ’16, Tom Reuter ’17, Liam Gibb ’17, Swannie Willstein ’18 and Christian Conway ’18) had a secret none of the other family members knew, from an affair with Bill Clinton to theft from charity. The combination of familial chaos and these secrets was employed to great comedic effect and elicited plenty of laughter throughout the show.

Those who attended West End’s opening show noticed that the format was very different from Scared Scriptless shows. That is because the two groups perform different styles of comedy. Scared Scriptless uses “short form improv,” which involves three- to five-minute games and short sketches, while West End uses “long form,” in which there is one premise for the entire show. This form relies on improvisers to create the scene (and the humor) on their own. For the improvisers, it is a good way to work with a set group and learn each person’s individual style.

West End was formed by Belin after a conversation with Lonigro.

“I did some long form one or two years ago and wasn’t getting enough of it in my life,” said Belin. “I was like, ‘What happened to the other two long form groups?’ and then thought, ‘I bet I could do that. Who would I want to work with?’”

“It was remarkably easy to gather the group,” Lonigro said.

As for the name “West End Improv,” it was a group decision made after a long night of brainstorming. Many other group names were rejected, from P-SPLAT to West Side Booty, but the group settled on West End for four reasons:  all the players live on the west side of campus, it sounds classy, it is an homage to the West End theater district of London and it is also a hint at Preston West’s rear end.

It is clear from talking to the improvisers and watching them perform that the camaraderie and cooperation of the group is remarkable, with everyone pitching in for the benefit of the group. Belin, a self-described “big idea person,” delegates smaller details, such as social media, to the rest of the group.

In addition, they each bring a unique style of comedy to the table that the other improvisers can build upon, from Conway’s over-the-top matriarchs, to Willstein’s Russian and German accents, to Reuter’s taciturn and physical characters to Gibb’s clever and wordy quips.

“It’s very rewarding.  We can feel comfortable enough to introduce aliens because we trust in ourselves,” Belin said.

The one rule of improve is that the improvisers must do whatever they can  to further a scene with their scene partners, and be open to anything in order to do so.

“Cthulu might make an appearance and we would all go ‘yes, and,’” Belin said.

“No matter how much our voices tremble, we always say ‘yes, and,’” Gibb added.

If you are interested in watching West End perform, you might have to be patient. The group has no plans for a show the rest of the semester or over Interim, but wants to perform lots of shows second semester featuring all sorts of new improv games they are excited to try.

Keep your ears open; when West End announces its next show you will have to get there early because you are not going to want to miss it.

walker1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Parade, Dash magazines will no longer be distributed in Northfield News

Northfield News - Sat, 12/20/2014 - 8:00am
The recent acquisition of Parade and Dash magazines by the Nashville-based Athlon Media Group will mean a change for readers of the Northfield News.
Categories: Local News

Senior Menu

Northfield News - Sat, 12/20/2014 - 12:00am
Monday: Chicken Pot Pie, Coleslaw, Beet Pickles, Dinner Rolls, Citrus Fruit Cup
Categories: Local News

National Skating Month Community Open House Jan 4th!

Northfield Skating School - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 10:21pm


Come one, come all to our National Skating Month Community Open House! Enjoy FREE ADMISSION to open skating, tips from pros, and skating performances! Skate rental $3.25

WHEN: Sunday, January 4th, 10:00-11:30am

WHERE: Northfield Ice Arena, 1280 Bollenbacher Drive, Northfield

View Flyer

Categories: Businesses

News Flash!: I Have Just Published a Poem in MADISON REVIEW’s Online Journal + A Few Photos From Madison, WI

Winona Media (Leslie Schultz) - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 9:17pm

I am pleased to be able to let you all know some truly capital-albeit-personal news–I have just published my first poem in the online MADISON REVIEW. The poem is one I wrote this spring, titled “‘Oh, Mrs. Miller!'”. This is my first time in the pages of Madison Review, and, to celebrate, I am sharing the link above and below some photos taken during about a year and a half ago, on my last trip to Wisconsin’s capitol city, home of my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin. On that trip, I made my first climb to the ‘dome walk’ around the top of the Capitol Building, and I even got a distance shot of the Helen C. White English Department windows, where I spent many happy hours–and participated in my first public reading. (I can still recall how my heart raced!)

This is the view of State Street, looking west to the University.

The long, flat pale building with oblong dark windows, near the lake shore, is Helen C. White.  Below are a few other images from inside and outside the Capitol.

Wishing you a splendid conclusion to this year’s tasks and renewed energy as you step into 2014, 

Categories: Citizens

AAA: Over 98 million people traveling during the holidays

Northfield News - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 6:00pm
With the holidays drawing nearer and plans for travel beginning to take shape, the roads may be a little more crowded in 2014 than in previous years for travelers, according to the American Automobile
Categories: Local News

Today’s news update – Neuville sentences Moreland to the max

KYMN Radio - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 4:05pm

Neuville sentences Moreland to the max

Michael Moreland sat quietly as Kimberly Motzko’s family read numerous victim impact statements before Judge Neuville yesterday morning.   His attorney David Hvistendahl said he read statements from 2 people who testified to Motzko walking in the road with her back to traffic.  Moreland apologized to the family and said it was a tragedy for all of them.  Judge Neuville rejected Hvistendahl’s motion to restore Moreland’s drivers license but did recommend he have a work permit.  It’s a 6 month suspension.  Moreland was ordered to serve 90 days with work release.  He’ll start a 60 day stretch on January 9th and then 30 days to start August 1st.  If the court receives a letter from probation stating that Moreland is in compliance, the 30 days would be stayed.  He also has supervised probation for up to 1 year.  He’s also ordered to pay a fine and surcharge of $1080.  Hvistendahl continued saying that Moreland will do 100 days community service.  Neuville gave Moreland the maximum sentence.  He also brought up the letter to the editor that Moreland had written bashing Rice County attorney Paul Beaumaster.  The Judge acknowledged Moreland’s First Amendment right to say it but thought it was “inappropriate”.  Motzko was killed 2 ½ years ago when Moreland’s vehicle struck and killed her and one of her dogs as they walked along a rural road in Webster Township.  After years of court drama, Moreland pled guilty to Careless Driving last week.

LISTEN for audio from Hvistendahl on the 5pm news

 

Listen for news updates on-air at 6, 7, 8, Noon, 3 and 5

The post Today’s news update – Neuville sentences Moreland to the max appeared first on KYMN Radio - Northfield, MN.

Moreland sentenced in Northfield pedestrian’s death

Northfield News - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 3:13pm
The criminal case of a Webster Township man who struck and killed a pedestrian and her dog in rural Northfield came to a close on Friday after 2 1/2 years.
Categories: Local News

Northfield Meals on Wheels there for those in need during holiday season

Northfield News - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 3:00pm
For those in need of a meal during the holidays, the Northfield Meals on Wheels provides not only food but socialization for those receiving the meals they might not otherwise get on a daily basis.
Categories: Local News

Community News: HANG UP BEFORE YOU PAY UP – Scam Alert

KYMN Radio - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 2:18pm

HANG UP BEFORE YOU PAY UP

There’s a new warning from the IRS.

Taxpayers are receiving calls from scammers pretending to be with the IRS and demanding payment. Not only has the IRS agency been flooded with these calls, but so has the Rice County Attorney’s Office.

“We continue to hear from taxpayers who have received unsolicited calls from individuals demanding payment while fraudulently claiming to be from the IRS.” says Debra Shampanier, Economic Crime Specialist.

There are clear warning signs about these scams, which continue at high levels throughout Rice County and
the nation. Remember, your first contact with the IRS will not be a call from out of the blue, but through official correspondence sent through the mail. A big red flag for these scams are angry, threatening calls from people who say they are from the IRS and urging immediate payment. This is not how the IRS operates. If you get a call like this hang up and immediately call the IRS and/or the Rice County Attorney’s Office Fraud Line.

• Ask for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone.

• Insist that taxpayers use a specific payment method (often Green Dot Prepaid money cards) to pay tax

• Request immediate payment over the telephone and will not take enforcement action immediately
following a phone conversation. Taxpayers usually receive prior notification of IRS enforcement action
involving IRS tax liens or levies.

Potential phone scam victims may be told that they owe money that must be paid immediately to the IRS or
they are entitled to big refunds. When unsuccessful the first time, sometimes phone scammers call back trying a new strategy.

Protect Yourself:

Be vigilant against phone and email scams that use the IRS as a lure. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. Do not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the message.  This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.   The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts.

Need help or have a question?

Rice County Attorney’s Office 507-332-5934

The post Community News: HANG UP BEFORE YOU PAY UP – Scam Alert appeared first on KYMN Radio - Northfield, MN.

12-20 Rice County public safety report

Northfield News - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 1:59pm
For the full log of police calls, visit northfieldnews.com/news/local. You can also check out the Rice County Interactive Crime Map on the home page at Northfieldnews.com.
Categories: Local News

Today’s news update – Passenger rail could be on track for Northfield’s future; Blueprint For Safety grant for Rice County; Calling all bellringers

KYMN Radio - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 1:39pm

Passenger rail could be on track for Northfield’s future

The passenger rail discussion has picked up steam in Northfield and surrounding areas.  District 20b representative David Bly has been gathering support up and down the rail lines, talking and meeting with communities as well as MnDot who said Northfield is advantageous with 2 lines.  One follows the old Dan Patch line that went through Lakeville, Savage and Edina, which is where the legislator who put the gag order on the Dan Patch line, lives.  The other is the old rock island line that runs to St. Paul.  Those lines are in MnDot’s 30 year plan or Tier 2.  If Bly can convince them of the interest in passenger rail then MnDot would consider the area to be a Tier 1 and passenger rail could be a possibility in Northfield in “3 to 5 to 10 years”.  Other things must fall into place but right now the focus is establishing support within the communities.  The deadline to inform MnDot is January 31st.  Dundas and Northfield councils both wrote letters of support this month.  This line would eventually go to Des Moines and could potentially go all the way to Dallas/Ft.Worth.  A point Bly wanted to make as well is that rail money doesn’t compete with highway dollars.  It would not take away from bridges and maintenance.  It’s not the same fund.  Money would have to come from the general fund, there could also be bonding.  Another notable is that IF passenger rail comes to our area, the whistle blowing would be curtailed as all crossings would have to be upgraded, meaning crossarms.  Bly offers much more information in the full interview available on kymnradio.net.

Blueprint For Safety grant for Rice County

Bringing down recidivism in domestic violence cases has been an ongoing discussion within Rice County criminal justice departments for a year and now they have a grant to move forward.  Attorney Paul Beaumaster explains that Hope Center Director, Erica Staub, wrote the Blueprint for Safety grant.  They’ll receive $135,000 for a coordinators position who would be  housed at Hope Center.  The Blueprint for Safety is a uniform policy between all departments that will center around hope for victims and getting offenders out of cycle of violence.  Beaumaster says they’ve also started administering a lethality assessment     Law enforcement are asking questions of a perpetrator  to determine if victim is in danger of being victimized again.  The hope is this will spur victims to have a safety plan.

Calling bellringers

The Rice County Salvation Army is still asking for volunteers to ring the bell this season.  There are 2 hour shifts in Northfield at Econofoods or Cub Foods. Call Rice County Kettle Coordinator Gina Little at 507-456-7076 or email northfieldbellringer@gmail.com.

Hideaway offers free Christmas dinner

The Hideaway is once again serving up Christmas dinner to those in the community who don’t have a place to go.  The Spauldings started this last year and it was so successful, they wanted to do it again.  They’ll be open from 1 to 5 on Christmas Day serving up all the fixin’s for a traditional dinner.

Click below to listen to FULL newscast:

12-19-14 news

Listen for news updates on-air at 6, 7, 8, Noon, 3 and 5

The post Today’s news update – Passenger rail could be on track for Northfield’s future; Blueprint For Safety grant for Rice County; Calling all bellringers appeared first on KYMN Radio - Northfield, MN.

New solar garden will help light up Northfield

Northfield News - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 1:00pm
Northfield may become a bit of a trailblazer when it comes to energy resources.
Categories: Local News

Greenvale Elementary School students and Three Links residents become pen pals

Northfield News - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 11:30am
This fall, Greenvale Park Elementary students and residents at Three Links Assisted Living discovered the lost art of letter writing.
Categories: Local News

ArtZany!-Radio for the Imagination | Fine Craft Collective 12/19/2014

KYMN Radio - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 10:54am

 

Listen Fridays at 9:00am (replayed on Saturday at 9:00am) to Paula Granquist on ArtZany! – Radio for the Imagination

Today in the ArtZany! Radio studio Paula Granquist welcomes welcomes artists Heather Lawrenz, Dave Peterson and Juan Fried from the Fine Craft Collective.

Click here to listen to the show!  Art Zany 12-19-14

 

Today in the ArtZany! Radio studio Paula Granquist welcomes artists Heather Lawrenz (composed jewelry), Dave Peterson (turned wood), and Juan Fried (composed jewelry) from the Fine Craft Collective. finecraftcollective.com

The Fine Craft Collective is a seasonal venue featuring the work of professional artists. The pop-up art store is open now through December 24, 2014 at the Northfield Arts Guild Gallery, 304 Division Street South in downtown Northfield, MN. This co-operative gallery and shop features hand-made objects from over 20 artisans. The pieces include both functional and decorative items and this model allows for members of the community to meet the artisans, learn about their work, and support the local economy.

Fine Craft Collective: Holiday Reception
Saturday, December 20th 10-6pm

Northfield Arts Guild Gallery,
304 Division Street South in downtown Northfield, MN

Take care of your last minute shopping while enjoying treats, coffee during our holiday open house! This is our end-of-season ‘thank you’ to you for supporting our artisans again this year! finecraftcollective.com

Juan Alejandro Fried Ortiz de Zarate is an architect and artist whose work reflects the complexity of his ancestry, his urban experiences, and a new home in the country. Juan studied art history and architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Minnesota.  As an architect and urban designer, he has completed award-winning designs for public agencies and community groups.  As a maker, he continues his study – on a more intimate and  personal scale – of form, space, and materials.

Heather Lawrenz has been creating jewelry since childhood and launched her business, Lawrenz Jewelry in 2003.  Found objects and natural stones inspire the jewelry she designs, and she finds gratification in bringing together unexpected components. Her current jewelry lines feature colorful discs she cuts from decorative tins, and up-cycled leather from purses and belts. With each new design, she strives to create beautiful jewelry that women want to wear every day.  Lawrenz Jewelry can be found online at www.lawrenzjewelry.com, and in galleries, boutiques and salons across the Midwest.

Dave Peterson now turns wood full time to make useful, sometimes adorned, objects. This past year he has: produced less scrap (i.e., less fire wood), made nice things a little faster and made things that come out closer to what his eyes were anticipating, and his shop is better organized and more presentable. Turning wood is more fun than ever for him. He says the fine-craft community is a bunch of truly wonderful people: friendly, helpful, encouraging, and open to newcomers.

The post ArtZany!-Radio for the Imagination | Fine Craft Collective 12/19/2014 appeared first on KYMN Radio - Northfield, MN.

12-18 Rice County court log

Northfield News - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 10:05am
Here are the Rice County court dispositions for Dec. 18.
Categories: Local News

Take a look at the library's new layout!

Northfield Public Library - Kids Info - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 9:55am

 These are working plans subject to some change.
Categories: Organizations

Luminaries for Loved Ones

St. Dominic - Church News - Fri, 12/19/2014 - 8:56am

Our High School youth will be selling luminaries for loved ones following the masses this weekend.  Buy a luminary for $5 and help light the pathway into church for our Christmas Eve Vigil.  Proceeds go to the June Mission Trip to the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.

Categories: Organizations

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