Sunday, August 31, 2008

Food Meme

Tai Haku at Earth, Wind and Water just posted a meme that I too couldn't resist. It is a list of foods that you cut and paste then bold the ones that you have tried. The original instructions suggested crossing out the ones you would never try but there just wasn't anything on the list I wouldn't consider tasting and some I definitely look forward to trying. Like Tai Haku, I added a few comments in parentheses behind some of the foods.
  1. Venison (pronghorn, mule deer, white-tailed deer, caribou, bighorn sheep, elk, moose, bison....all made into many fine dishes. My favorite recipe might be reconciliation chile made from pronghorn. You can find the recipe in Steve Bodio's book On the Edge of the Wild.)
  2. Nettle tea
  3. Huevos rancheros (I think I know what I might have for breakfast tomorrow!)
  4. Steak tartare
  5. Crocodile (I marked this one even though technically it was alligator not crocodile)
  6. Black pudding
  7. Cheese fondue
  8. Carp (Dad made great fish cakes from carp when he was still bowhunting for fish)
  9. Borscht
  10. Baba ghanoush
  11. Calamari
  12. Pho
  13. PB&J sandwich
  14. Aloo gobi (Made this at home after watching Bend it Like Beckham - the DVD came with a recipe and a great clip of the director making aloo gobi with her mother and aunt).
  15. Hot dog from a street cart
  16. Epoisses
  17. Black truffle
  18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
  19. Steamed pork buns
  20. Pistachio ice cream
  21. Heirloom tomatoes
  22. Fresh wild berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, huckleberries.. I miss being able to pick and eat wild berries - one of the drawbacks of living on the prairie. Oh and my grandmother's wild blueberry pie - a favorite memory of late summer trips to Minnesota)
  23. Foie gras
  24. Rice and beans
  25. Brawn - otherwise known as head cheese.
  26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
  27. Dulce de leche
  28. Oysters
  29. Baklava (I won the Men Who Cook contest one year with a recipe perfected by my wife)
  30. Bagna cauda
  31. Wasabi peas
  32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
  33. Salted lassi
  34. Sauerkraut
  35. Root beer float
  36. Cognac with a fat cigar (even better is number 45 with a very good cigar! Haven't done that for a long time).
  37. Clotted cream tea
  38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
  39. Gumbo
  40. Oxtail
  41. Curried goat (not yet but it certainly sounds good.)
  42. Whole insects
  43. Phaal
  44. Goat's milk
  45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (mmm..)
  46. Fugu
  47. Chicken tikka masala
  48. Eel
  49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
  50. Sea urchin
  51. Prickly pear
  52. Umeboshi
  53. Abalone
  54. Paneer
  55. McDonald's Big Mac Meal (SuperSize Me pretty much ended any lingering desire to do this one again)
  56. Spaetzle
  57. Dirty gin martini (Laura's favorite)
  58. Beer above 8%
  59. Poutine (a couple months on a French Canadian Icebreaker? - you bet)
  60. Carob chips (only made me appreciate #90 even more)
  61. S'mores
  62. Sweetbreads (surprisingly mushroom like - got to try this one thanks to Steve and Libby)
  63. Kaolin (Like Tai Haku I am not sure why this one is on the list. I just know it as a type of clay and I am not real geophagic)
  64. Currywurst
  65. Durian (been intrigued for years - one of these days I just have to try it)
  66. Frogs' legs
  67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
  68. Haggis
  69. Fried plantain
  70. Chitterlings or andouillette
  71. Gazpacho
  72. Caviar and blini
  73. Louche absinthe
  74. Gjetost or brunost (not sure about this one but probably. The more I say the name the more it sounds familiar. Many of the original homesteaders in this part of MT were Norwegian and lutefisk and lefse are well known foods around here so there is a good chance I have had this cheese before. In fact, there is a small lefse producer, the Lefse Shack, located in Opheim, a small town just north of here on the Canadian border, that makes and distributes lefse throughout the country).
  75. Roadkill (why not - the pheasant wasn't there when I went to town and there when I came back a short time later. Great meal and the when the rest of the ferret survey crew found out where I got it, I didn't have to share with anyone!)
  76. Baijiu
  77. Hostess Fruit Pie
  78. Snail
  79. Lapsang souchong (one of my favorite teas - probably has something to do with the same taste buds that cause me to like the smokey, peaty scotches too)
  80. Bellini
  81. Tom yum
  82. Eggs Benedict (my favorite breakfast)
  83. Pocky
  84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
  85. Kobe beef (would much rather have good Montana grass fed beef anyway)
  86. Hare (Montana surf and turf - Walleye and Cottontail Rabbit - I know, technically not hare but close enough)
  87. Goulash
  88. Flowers
  89. Horse
  90. Criollo chocolate (Criollo, Carenero, Trinitario, Forestero, ahhh. If you are interested in chocolate check out The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural & Natural History of Cacao with Recipes)
  91. Spam
  92. Soft shell crab
  93. Rose harissa
  94. Catfish
  95. Mole poblano (I was first served mole by a fellow ferret researcher from Mexico. She made some for us one fall and I have loved it since.)
  96. Bagel and lox
  97. Lobster Thermidor
  98. Polenta
  99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee (sounds like something I will have to try)
  100. Snake (My research partner Rich Reading and I tried Prairie Rattlesnake one summer to see what the fuss was about. It was about nothing.)
I could add a few to this list like giant barnacle or picorocos (at a dockside restaurant in Puerto Montt Chile - it tasted like lobster) and other assorted animals of one type or another. Like Tai Haku, I am not going to tag anyone, but take a shot at the list if you would like.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Bowdoin NWR

Marbled Godwit

After too many days of too much work and not enough time for myself, I was finally able to spend a few hours at Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge just east of Malta, MT. I dropped Benton off at school and had until I needed to pick him up from school to get away.
I have been visiting this refuge for over 3o years. I used to visit a bit more regularly when I was younger. Dad and I would drive the hour long trip at least a few times a year. We often visited the refuge alone but I do remember also spending time there with P.D. Skaar and one time I remember meeting Helen Cruickshank there too.

Yesterday was a wonderful day to be out. The seemingly ever-present prairie winds had diminished for the day and the temperature was in the relatively mild mid-80's range not the 100 plus we had experienced earlier in the week. Despite the nice weather viewing conditions were not the best as most of the places I was finding birds to look at were located south of the access roads so I was looking into the sun much of the time.

Red-necked Phalarope

Red-necked and Wilson Phalaropes were common throughout the refuge.

Stilt Sandpipers

White-faced Ibis

White-faced Ibis

White-faced Ibis



Olive-sided Flycatcher

Olive-sided Flycatchers are rare migrants from boreal forests to the north. I found two catching insects near the refuge headquarters.

Baird's Sandpiper

Lesser Yellowlegs

Least Sandpiper

This last photo is a dead Red-necked Phalarope. This was one of the shorebird casualties I found. There appears to be an ongoing outbreak of avian botulism at the refuge and I found quite a few dead and dying waterfowl along the south end of the refuge. Green-winged and Blue-winged Teal seemed to be the most common duck species affected but I found at least one representative of all the duck species commonly found on the refuge this time of year dead on the beach during the casual quarter mile survey I conducted. There were a few shorebird carcasses scattered along the beach as well including the phalarope above and Least Sandpiper, Bairds Sandpiper, and a few other unidentified shorebird carcasses. Vultures are apparently immune to the effects of avian botulism and one was found gorging itself along the shoreline.

Avian botulism is a common disease infecting migratory waterfowl and shorebirds throughout the west and is can also be knows as Western Duck Disease or Alkali Sickness. The bacteria Clostridim botulinum produces a toxin that is lethal to birds and induce death through paralysis, hence the other common name - limberneck. These bacteria are commonly present in these environment but outbreaks of bird deaths generally occur when temperatures are high in August and September. Outbreaks are propagated when flies lay their eggs on infected birds. The resulting maggots concentrate the botulism toxins and when other birds feed on the maggots they get infected, causing an exponential growth in bird deaths. Outbreaks generally last until cold weather breaks the chain of infection, but the extent of the outbreak can be lessened by removing the carcasses of the dead birds. I spent a few weeks in the late 1980's at Bowdoin doing just that - picking up waterfowl carcasses during a botulism outbreak. I suspect that budget cuts at the USFWS have limited their ability to mobilize enough personnel to deal with these problems and hopefully cooler weather will interrupt this deadly cycle before it grows too much larger.

Monday, August 25, 2008

August evenings

It is the time of year when there are Mourning Doves all over the place. At least until the first real cold front moves in to push them further south. We found a number of dead nestlings and eggs on the ground after summer storms this year and despite large losses of nests and nestlings they still produce a lot of young while they are here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Rocky Mountain Beeplant

A few days ago I actually got out of the office for a bit. I checked a couple of reservoirs built specifically for wildlife (many of the reservoirs are built to provide water for cattle). Along the way I found this plant blooming on the shoulder of a remote gravel road. I didn't have my plant ID books with me and had to send a photo to Dad for ID. He identified it as a Rocky Mountain Beeplant (Cleome serrulata). It certainly lived up to its name. In addition to the bees there was a circus of insects on each plant - beetles, flies, butterflies, wasps, and ants. There were probably more species of insects on those beeplants than the total number of bird and mammal species I had seen that day combined.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Arctic Auks

I missed posting this link earlier this summer but I encourage all of you to check it out. My good friend Dr. Nina Karnovski has conducted field research on Little Auks or Dovekies (Alle alle) for many years. This blog and website describes the research she is conducting and her latest field season studying these birds in Spitsbergen.

Photo courtesy of Arctic Auks.

I owe Nina a lot since it was because of her I was able to experience the Arctic a couple of times while working for her or her advisor on a couple of research projects.

Reading her blog and looking at the associated website brings my desire for seabirds and wild Arctic places to the surface and I can't wait to hear more stories from Nina on her latest adventure.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Penguin Knight

Nils Olav, a King Penguin at the Edinburgh Scotland zoo, has been knighted by the Norway. Norway gave the Edinburgh Zoo it's first King Penguins when the zoo opened in 1912 and since 1972, a King Penguin named Nils Olav has been the mascot of the Norwegian King's Guard. You can see a video of the current Nils Olav (the original died in 1980's) inspecting the troops here. Nils has risen through the ranks since being adopted as a lance corporal by the King's Guard after a lieutenant named Nils Egelien became interested in the zoo's penguin colony in 1962. According to the Wikipedia entry for Nils, he is the fist (and I would venture to guess, the only) penguin to hold this rank in the Norwegian Army. He even has a statue located at the guard's headquarters in Oslo.


The non-profit group Oceanites is in the news. The latest issue of The Antarctic Sun has a good article on the Antarctic Site Inventory work conducted by Oceanites and describes the program and the overall results of the work we have been doing.
I am in the process of working on determining if I will be able to help out with the field work this year and so far things are looking good for a return trip to The Ice.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I have a few photos now showing at the ArtSpot Gallery in Glasgow, MT so if you happen to be in the area be sure to stop by.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Nighthawk Night

This evening I sat on the front porch and watched the Common Nighthawks foraging in front of an advancing prairie thunderstorm. I watched two nighthawks work back and forth across the field in front of the house until they were joined by another pair, only to disappear as rapidly as they appeared. In the distance a loose flock of seven more Common Nighthawks were moving deliberately south.

Common Nighthawks have been less than common here this summer and in fact have been mostly absent in and around Fort Peck this year compared to most years. It was nice to see them bouncing around in the sky this evening.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Litho #4

Salvin's Big-eyed Bat (Chiroderma salvini)

By P. J. Smit from
Biologia Centrali-Americana: Mammalia. E. R. Alston. London:1879-1882.