Fraker Farm Miscellany; 11/21/10

by Matt Fraker on November 21, 2010

The Fraker Farm added another member to its clan this weekend. His name (bestowed prior to our involvement) is “Trout”. He was a homeless little orange tabby whose jaw had been significantly damaged by getting it caught up on a fence wire. This is him during his medical stay at my clinic:

Introductions to our three children were mandatory but stress free. It’s the three dogs (“Mojo”, “Willis”, “Tucher”) that require careful admittance, as one of them has the nickname “The Dark Angel of Death” — that would be “Mojo”. “Mojo” in his prime was 100 pounds of black psychosis. He was the .357 six barrel that has no safety. Matthew Winks is one of many who can attest to this dog’s “legion” qualities. He witnessed first hand the lovely and friendly “Mojo” once when he arrived at the Fraker Farm and jaunted out of his vehicle. I ran out of the house yelling, “MOJO’S OUT!! — HOLD-UP!!” Winks, knowing Mojo’s earned reputation, gave me pie plate eyes and ran back to his Subaru Outback just as “Mojo” was making the curve around the house. Winks slammed his door shut, window cracked open, just as “Mojo” blasted into his door trying to get to him through the cracked window. I was stupidly laughing hysterically as Winks was yelling “C’MON!! This is NOT COOL!! Get this crazy bastard off of my car!!”

Mojo is older now — probably on his way out. And yet he is the last of the Fraker Old Guard of dogs: Hobbs, Tiny (my Saint Bernard famous for his programs with children), and Mojo, my and my family’s greatest protector.

I digress. Trout’s purpose is to “mouse” the rodent ridden Fraker Farm household. He is a wonderful feline. I anticipate lots of fun with my children and lots of predated rodents.

I hiked the Fraker Farm today from about 11:30am until 2pm for November’s Full Moon. The day was gray, misted, and windy from the south. My hike had several highlights. The north oak timber had a comforting Red-headed Woodpecker presence (along with chasing Flickers and Downy Woodpeckers). Up at the Pond, I had a flock of about 10 Pine Siskins flying overhead working the European Black Alder catkins, along with a Mallard pair on the pond, and a Great-horned Owl flying away through the White Pine timber.

I totally sacked out on the west bluff with the cool misting playing upon my face. A nearby shotgun blast startled me into awakedness shortly after, and I made my way to the north bluff where I had my season’s first Rough-legged Hawk fly right over my head — an adult light morph male.

Shortly after my return to the household and family, I noticed a phone message from Winks. Deep sigh, as I knew it would probably involve having to drive someplace…

Winks had found four Black Scoters on Upper Peoria Lake near Spring Bay on the Illinois River. I hauled over to the River, found Winks (and the departing Hartzler brothers), and we pushed out through some willows to the river’s edge and scoped the flocks of birds out on the Illinois River. Here is an iPhoniscoped image of three of the Scoters (with a Lesser Scaup):

Winks knows I have a disease about counting birds, and he kept egging me on about the Horned Grebe and Bufflehead rafts we were looking at.

“How many Horned Grebes do you think are out there?”

“Wow…that’s a LOT of Bufflehead — whaddya think?”

The disease took over and I finally iPhone memo’d the birds we saw and those totals are below.

This was a full Sunday — fun with family; “Mojo” not eating “Trout”; “Trout” training at the Fraker Farm; ANY day with Red-headed-Woodpeckers (and Siskins and Rough-legged Hawks); and inland Scoters amidst the myriad waterfowl rafts (thanks, Winks);

I will sleep contentedly on this full Sunday — full like the Moon now above it.

Location: Upper Peoria Lake
Observation date: 11/21/10
Number of species: 15

American Black Duck 9
Mallard 48
Green-winged Teal 4
Canvasback 9
Redhead 23
Ring-necked Duck 25
Greater Scaup 2
Lesser Scaup 44
Black Scoter 4
Bufflehead 123
Ruddy Duck 52
Common Loon 1
Pied-billed Grebe 4
Horned Grebe 95
American Coot 58

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