Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Pewees in Potosi

♪ I hear that train a-comin'...it's rollin' 'round the bend...♫

Thanks to the constant heavyweight commerce of the BNSF Railroad rumbling past our campsite at all hours of the day and night; Opie was a mess.  True, it's not like I didn't know about the prolific railroad traffic, hell I purposely chose Site 58 in the Army Corp of Engineers, Grant River Recreation Area because of the railroad traffic. Opie didn't know however, and more than surely wished he were elsewhere, as he appreciates the classic cacophony of the railroad almost as equally as booming of Forth of July fireworks. Barbara on the other hand is a complete and total sport about my choice of campsites, no matter what that might mean.  She's a true Birdstud wife and supporter through and through; even when it comes to 140 decibels of thundering freight train at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 3:45, 4:00, 4:30, and 5:00 AM.  She just does not complain.

We were in the area again (last time was 2011) to partake in the local brew cranked out just down the street at the Potosi Brewery.  This time we coincided our visit to attend the 5th annual Brewfest on the weekend of August 23rd, 2013.  A few weeks earlier I had gone on their website and paid for the tickets to the fest. They faithfully arrived in the mail before we left so we were (literally) good to go!  Neither Barbara or I knew the slightest thing about the format, or any details not having attended before, so the only question mark remained Opie.  We didn't want to leave him at home in Milwaukee just for the few hours of the fest, so I emailed the brewery for information on what our options were.  The response I received never indicated that animals of any kind were in no way allowed anywhere near the fest. So imagine our surprise when the day before the fest after a quick stop at the grounds as the crew was setting up; we were given the news.

That changed our plans to attend the fest together dramatically in that we certainly dared not leave the poor little doggie in the sweltering WPT or even in the hot and muggy campground; so we "took turns."  The event began at 1:00 PM on Saturday and I was to be the first fest-goer of our duo, so Barbara dropped me off just a few blocks north of the main entrance.  I stood in a long line of fellow-festers awaiting the opening of the gate.  There had been a finite amount of VIP tickets sold and those folks were already meandering along the front of the many craft beer vendor tables with their souvenir pint (glass) glasses.  When my turn came, I traded in my ticket for my own glass.  The vendors were instructed to pour their product into the attendee's glasses to a painted line on the side of the glass.  This apparently was intended to keep the fluid amount given to each person at a constant expected level.  I can tell you from my experience; vendors poured to whatever imaginary over-filled line they wished.  In other words; you could get bombed in a quick second.  Nice.

A folk band played in a center area away from the main action.  The grounds were beautiful with immaculate grassy areas surrounded by colorful plants.  The sun was incredibly hot however the savvy festival organizers made the smart investment in several shade-providing tents. Beer (and wine) vendors were set up in the center, back to back. This allowed service from all sides at once and worked rather efficiently even though I would estimate the crowd at well over two thousand all told. Cheese vendors from across the state and nearby neighboring states brought in delectable cubes of yellow, white and orange goodness; each with their own toothpick.  Was the cheese good you ask?  Would I run out and buy some of it the first chance I got?  My answers are, hell yeah, and damn, what was the name of that cheese I just scarfed?  I almost felt sorry for those folks; the cheese and smoked sausage vendors.  Why?  Because drunk people were craving something, anything because their appetites as well as mine were on hyperdrive.  The vendors could have had samples of dog biscuits and sweeping compound on display and inebriated adults would have willingly eaten them without pausing to read the signage.

When 3:00 came, I communicated to Barbara where I would walk for a driver-exchange, and Opie and I drove back to the campground to sit in the shade.  All in all, the festival was well run and entirely enjoyable. Barbara asked for her pick-up in about an hour, so I drove back to fetch her as she was walking down the road.  She told me she had a good time, but both of us admitted that it would have been our preference to be there together.  Next time; we get a dog-sitter.

The title of this particular blog entry involves the Eastern wood pewee.  That is because for whatever yet unexplained reason, this area was replete with them.  The Eastern wood pewee is a small flycatcher that is about 5-6 inches in length. It has grayish-olive upper-parts, a grayish-white throat,breast, and belly, and white wing bars. It has a dark gray bill; the lower bill is yellow-orange at the base. Males and females look alike.  The eastern wood pewee is found in deciduous, coniferous, and mixed forests.  The female lays 2-3 eggs in a open cup nest. The chicks hatch in 12-13 days and fledge when they are 14-18 days old. The female has one brood a year. I have "heard" them on several occasions, far off in the distance of some heavily wooded land, and every once in a while stalked them by their call to the incredibly high branch on which they sat; this was different.  These pewees seemed to be everywhere.  I saw them on electrical wires, in low trees in the campground and along the Mississippi in plain sight.  They flew as do other flycatchers; from a branch outward to grab an insect and back to the branch in full view.  They hovered in place to snatch a bug, and zipped back from where they had come.  They stood still making their characteristic "pee-a-wee" and "pee-yoooo" sound.  It was a marvelous thing to behold, particularly when every reference on the Internet claims that their numbers have supposedly been greatly depleted due to large Whitetail deer populations.  Perhaps that is the reason they proliferate here along the Mississippi; not as many Whitetail deer, if any to be found.  Here is a really cool animated map of their arrival in late April to North America. In the early fall, these birds will migrate to Central America and in the Andes region of South America.

While we were in the area, we took the time to drive north up the 133 "The Great River Road" towards Cassville for a few grocery items and then eventually into Nelson Dewey State Park.  I wanted to show Barbara the incredible overlook and the future birdwatching territory that the park had to offer.  We poked our heads into the Stonefield early Wisconsin farming exhibit on the way back and stopped to shoot a few pictures too.

We enjoyed our stay at Grant River and will most assuredly stay again; just not so blasted close to the tracks next time.  In fact; we picked out two potential sites that not only provided a bit of distance from the railway, but also a bit more breeze from the mighty river.  I only have one complaint about our experience this time but it's quite ironic to even mention it.  On the last morning (Monday morning) we had planned to wake up leisurely, enjoy a great camp breakfast, slowly pack up our gear, etc. however we were rudely awaken at 6:00 by the sound of professional lawnmowers circling around the site.  Yes, I know that freight trains were screaming by all night long, but c'mon...we'd gotten used to that.  Someone should have told ol' Bubba and Jim Bob to unload their stupid Snappers on the far end of the park for the first few hours of their shift...you know, by the boat landing, group picnic area and parking lot!  But nooooo...this is how they had practiced their blitzkrieg turf-assault, and this is how they HAD do it when they begin their damnable grass cutting exhibition.  We got up grumbling.  Oh well...

On to more adventure and more birds, stay tuned.