CLIFF WILSON is a well known individual from Conrad. He is now retired and loves to travel. And he still retains a keen eye for natural wonders of places and people. His latest adventure was to go to the Antarctic and cruise to several destinations on the continent plus the islands of South Georgia and the Falklands. The expedition took place on the ship National Geographic Explorer which operates in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions.
A professionally made DVD about the three week long excursion will be shown to the public on Thursday night, Feb 25th, 7 pm, at the Fisher Community Center. Host for the free program is the Central Iowa Ornithologists (Bird Club). They welcome anyone and everyone to attend this spectacular program. This is a do-not-miss type of program which features people and wildlife interactions on very personal levels. The photography is outstanding, the scenery is terrific, and at the end of the program, you too may wish to put Antarctica on your wish list of things to do.
Antarctica is the fifth largest continent with roughly 5.3 million square miles. Most of this area is made up of a vast permanent ice sheet more than 6,600 feet thick. The actual land mass of Antarctica is only about 2.7 million square miles. Only twenty-five percent of the land is visible as coastlines or mountains. It is also the coldest continent with average August temperatures of -40 to -94 degrees F. The warmest month is February with 5 to -49 degrees F.
Conrad native Cliff Wilson enjoyed this scene many times during his Antarctic cruise during November and December, 2009. In the background are King Penguins, just one of about eight penguin species that Wilson and his fellow shipmates were able to see. Other wildlife in the Antarctic included Albatrosses, Petrels, Fulmars, Shearwaters, plus many whales, dolphins and seals. A free public program about this Antarctic adventure will be presented on Thursday evening, February 25th at 7 pm at the Fisher Community Center in Marshalltown. Bring your whole family and lots of friends to see this fantastic part of the world.
Wilson's group never ventured deep into the interior. The ship had to stay close to shore and still offered many opportunities to go onto the land via inflatable zodiac boats. Typical air temperatures were about 25 to 35 degrees F. Warmly dressed and with cameras, sketch pads and hiking sticks, the people really enjoyed close encounters with birds and seals.
You are invited to come to the FCC on the 25th. Bring your whole family and all your friends. This is a must see program that will delight and educate everyone about the marvelous wonders of nature in this Southern hemisphere location. You will be able to ask questions of Cliff Wilson at programs end. See you there.
The way our winter has been going in Iowa and other Midwestern states, all we have to do to experience our own "Antarctic or Arctic" conditions is to just walk outside. We have plenty of snow this winter, maybe too much, as we are well on the way to trying to break the record from 1911 with 70 plus inches of the white stuff. Just remember that the earth marches to its own tune regarding swings in weather events. All we can do is adapt. For all our snow bird friends in TX or AZ or FL, this scribe thinks that there will still be snow banks trying to melt when they come home at the end of March or early April. Would you agree?
Note that next weekend, Feb 20th, is the WHITETAILS UNLIMITED banquet hosted by the Bear Grove Chapter. The setting will be at Marshalltown's KC Hall, 201 W High St. Social hour begins at 5 pm. A prime rib steak dinner will be served at 6:30 pm. Tickets can be secured from Ron Wacome, 1959 140th St., Liscomb, IA. The cost is $40 per single ticket; spouse or child tickets are $20.
DUCKS UNLIMITED is right on the heels of WTU. Saturday, Feb 27th is the membership banquet for DU at the Regency Inn at Marshalltown. A great array of games, prizes, guns and other merchandise will be available for purchase at silent auction or live auction. Wetland conservation project promotion is where the money goes that is raised at this event.
Any conservationist or sportsman or woman who enjoys the sights and sounds of the duck marshes of this nation is encouraged to attend and contribute to a great cause. Tickets for DU can be obtained from Max or Tanya Thomas. Call 641-752-9496.
DEER ANTLER SCORING will take place on Feb. 23rd at 7 pm at the Conservation Center at the GrimesFarm. This is an annual event whereby last years big bucks can be brought together for official Iowa measuring. It is always interesting to see the wide variety of whitetail antlers produced locally. It is proof that year after year, a good number of older and wiser bucks survive all that nature and hunters may throw at them. Rick Trine, wildlife biologist supervisor and others will provide tips on the typical and non-typical patterns of the antlers of our big game animal. See you there.
Must hunters shoot deer to help save nature? Yes, yes and yes. Iowa has very good and conscientious biologists working on management objectives that together with hunter sportsmen, women and youth, are doing an admirable job of working toward deer herd control. Deer must be managed. Their numbers have the capacity to double in just three years if left unchecked. In our modern day world in an intensively agricultural state like Iowa, managing resources is a must do thing. A policy of noninterference with nature, as advocated by some, and trying to preserve habitats are incompatible themes. Reality requires that trained natural resource people be allowed to do what is best for wildlife and the land in the long run.
Overall in the Hawkeye state, deer management goals are being reached in more and more counties. Fine tuning the harvest options for 2010-11 will take into account data from the past season. Trend lines for deer populations will be closely examined. The system is working. So to anyone who says "the population of deer is out of control" has a lot to learn and a boat load of information to digest and analyze first. Deer population trend lines prove that control measures are working. It is never easy but it is working.
"My Five Senses" is the theme for the Nature's Story Hour for preschoolers on Wednesday, February 17, at 10:00 a.m. at the GrimesFarm & Conservation Center. Bring your little ones out for fun stories and a short walk outdoors.
Bring your lunch and join the naturalist at the GrimesFarm & Conservation Center on Thursday, February 18, from 11:30 a.m. 1:00 p.m. for the Brown Bag Bunch. DNR Forester Joe Herring will present a program on The History of Iowa Forests. Come out and learn what once was, is, and how to keep it.
You can still purchase an advance $3 ticket for the MCCB Photo Contest Awards Presentation and Chili Supper to be held Thursday, February 18 from 6 7 p.m. at the GrimesFarm & Conservation Center. This is an opportunity to have a delicious chili supper and view all the entries in the 9th Annual Photo Contest. Tickets are available at the Conservation Center.
Today's bit of humor goes like this: Psychiatrists say that 1 in 4 people are mentally ill. Check three friends. If they are OK, you are it.
Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.