As you know, I have a particular fondness for Minnesota, AKA “Land of the Frozen North”. It has a few lakes, lots of trees, even more snow and ice, and the state even hosts the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River. Recent Arctic weather has created a crisis of heavy ice floes on the river, and the US Coast Guard had to contract a Norwegian icebreaker to travel up the Mississippi to clear the way for tugs and barges. More on this story later in this post…
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that our CD player had stopped opening and closing without human intervention using a butter knife. I traced the problem to a stretched-out drive belt. Here is the old belt (right) next to the new one; after 15 years of regular use, it had gotten tired and stretched out enough to slip on the opening mechanism’s pulleys.
So now to install the new belt and give it a test with a full load of CDs….
A ten minute, $9.00 fix, including shipping, and now the CD player is good for another 15 years… Yee-Hah! But by 2028, people will be asking, “What’s a CD?” Sigh… technology does march on, doesn’t it? “Hey, Suzanne, what did you do with my 8-track recording of Jefferson Airplane?”
After my Great White Heron/Egret post, our good friend and fellow birdwatcher Libby asked about some other feathered neighbors, the ospreys who have nests on poles and platforms around and about The Villages. Osprey (Pandion haliaetis) are also known as sea hawks or fish hawks, since their diet is principally made up of fish. Osprey usually fly 40-130 feet above the water, spot their prey and then plummet feet first into the water to make their catch with their talons. Osprey have closable nostrils to keep water out while they are diving.
One of the larger raptors, osprey have few natural enemies; horned owls and bald eagles are the only real threats to young osprey and nests. Bald eagles, however, often steal fish that osprey have just caught. This behavior actually has a name, kleptoparasitism… but it’s only a misdemeanor. Osprey nests are large, often 6 feet in diameter, and are made of sticks, driftwood, and seaweed; they are often found in forks of trees or atop telephone poles and special-built artificial platforms. At right, a male osprey is showing off his wingspan as part of the mating ritual… “Hey, Harry, let’s cut to the next scene, shall we? This is a G-rated blog, not ‘Sex in the City’!”
Lastly, I have to complete the report of the Norwegian icebreaker mentioned in the first paragraph… here is the photo… “Harry, what the heck are you doing??? Who let that photo in here???” (Our thanks to Contributing Editor Tom Garlipp for breaking the news on this revealing story…)