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Bluff Country Bird Festival


Fri, Mar 15th, 2002
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Monday, March 18, 2002

"I think of Fillmore County as my true home," says John Hockema, one of Minnesota's most skilled birdwatchers. John and I are visiting over lunch at the Harmony House. We have just come from a planning meeting for the third Bluff Country Bird Festival, which will take place in the Spring Valley area May 17-19. John will be one of the field trip leaders, as will I.

John has seen and identified 225 species of birds in Fillmore County, more than anyone else in the last decade. Only three people surpass his 313 species seen in Minnesota in 2001. But, birding for him is not just about listing. It's about habitat, songs and calls, behavior and conservation. It's about teaching, socializing with other birders and solitude.

John spent his boyhood summers with his grandparents, Marjorie and Henry Hockema, on their farm in Sumner Township, north of Spring Valley. He went to school in Hastings where his father lives. In 1984, at age 13, he met his mentor, Dr. Alden Risser of Stewartville, at the Sumner Center United Methodist Church, which they both attended. At that time, Dr. Risser had been studying birds for over 50 years and John had been keeping a nature notebook for several years.

John, his younger brother Chris and Dr. Risser took their first bird walk together on October 10, 1984, in Forestville State Park. After that, for over a decade, they birded together almost every Saturday during the summer and vacations from school. They also took some long distance trips. On one trip, to the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, John, Chris and their friends Eric and Josh got lost. They found their way by climbing a tree to look for landmarks. When they returned to their cabin, Dr. Risser was calmly reading a book; he assured them he had faith that they would return. John, however, hadn't been so confident. When he reached the cabin, he fell down and kissed the cabin floor.

John and I met in 1987 at a Lanesboro area Christmas Bird Count. We quickly became good friends and birding buddies. Over the years, we have had some good outings together. Our most memorable one took place in the spring of 1989 along Shattuck Creek near Highland with Dr. Risser and other Fillmore County birders. That day we found a Lawrence's warbler, the rare hybrid of a golden-winged and blue-winged warbler. John tells me that this bird is still his favorite sighting in Fillmore County.

Other Fillmore County place .....
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Foods Weekly Ads

Squirrelly Southeastern Minnesota

Fri, Mar 15th, 2002
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By John LevellMonday, February 4, 2002

While a select few see them as game to be hunted and eaten and some folks think they are cute and fun to observe, most Bluffland area residents view squirrels as just two or three sp ..... 
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2002 Perennial Plant

Fri, Mar 15th, 2002
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of the Year
Virginia CooperMonday, March 4, 2002

The Perennial Plant Association has named Phlox 'David' to be the plant of the year. Each year this esteemed group chooses a plant whose character and grace deserve a place of honor.

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South Pole weather

Fri, Mar 15th, 2002
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Monday, March 11, 2002

There has been a change in the weather in the last few days. We are finally getting some cold weather after one of the mildest winters anyone can remember. It was about seven below zero this morning. Our youngest son tho ..... 
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Margaret Mead and Gilligan

Fri, Mar 15th, 2002
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Monday, March 18, 2001

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travels sake. The great affair is to move.
Robert Louis Stevenson

Our world has sure gotten smaller.

When I was a kid, it never seemed ..... 
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Fri, Mar 15th, 2002
Posted in

Fri, Mar 15th, 2002
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To the Editor,

In response to Roger Colbenson's letter dated March 11 . . .
The cost figure that the Rushford-Peterson Board of Education has been given by TCI for building a new school facility is $18,455,000. The State of MN would 'equal ..... 
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Fri, Mar 15th, 2002
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To the Editor,

I have been reading all the articles, the letters to the editor trying to get a good idea of what a new school could mean to the community. I think Mr. Morkens opinion on a wait and see attitude is a good one. My husband and ..... 
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Fri, Mar 15th, 2002
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To the Editor,

On Saturday, March 2, 2002, I attended yet another wildlife banquet with three of my good friends. This time it was a National Wild Turkey Federation Banquet held at the Stewartville Sportsmans Club in Stewartville.

As ..... 
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