The recent snow is reason for excitement for the Brainerd Nordic Ski Club.
And concern. Always is this time of year.
It won't be long before the club is grooming its Northland Arboretum, Forestview and French Rapids trail systems for a winter of cross-country skiing.
And battling to protect those trails.
According to Mary Claire Ryan, grant-in-aid coordinator for the club, use of the trails for any other reason than cross-country skiing - walking, snowshoeing or as a venue for pets - destroys the trails. And transgressors could be ticketed.
"Once the snow flies they're designated ski trails. They're not for walking or snowshoeing," Ryan said. "It costs a lot of money to groom the trails.
"The signage is up, and every year we tell people not to do it. You can be ticketed for this - like if you didn't have a Minnesota Ski Pass. All three systems are signed and it will be enforced by local (DNR) conservation officers.
"There's only so much money to groom the systems. It's more economical if they stay off (the trails) and it leads to a better ski experience."
Christmas Bird Count
The Bee-Nay-She Council Bird Club invites volunteers in the greater Brainerd lakes area to participate in Audubon's 110th annual Christmas Bird Count.
The counts take place between Monday and Jan. 5 and are open to birders of all skill levels.
The schedule and contact information for area Christmas Bird Counts:
Dec. 19, Crosby, Jo Blanich, (218) 546-5939.
Dec. 26, Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge near McGregor, Michelle McDowell, (218) 768-2402.
Jan. 1, Pillager, Mike North, (218) 746-3135.
Jan. 2, Walker, Ben Weiland, (218) 682-2325.
A rare sighting
While camping at Crow Wing State Park last month, Doug Backlund of Pierre, S.D., reported the sighting of an acorn woodpecker - thought to be the first such sighting in the state.
Backlund, an avid birder, logged seeing the bird at 2:35 p.m. Nov. 9 while it was "working on some tree stumps at campsite No. 6 in the park."
After getting a good look at the bird through his binoculars, Backlund said he snapped off about a half-dozen photos before it disappeared. He contacted the Minnesota Ornithologists' Union to report the sighting.
By then, it was getting late in the day, "but by the following morning, well before sunrise, the first cars rolled in," Backlund said in an Internet posting. "By 9 a.m., I think there were at least 25 birders looking for the acorn woodpecker. The woodpecker was nowhere to be found."
According to Animal Diversity Web, acorn woodpeckers are a medium-sized, black-and-white clown-faced bird with a red crown, glossy black-and-white head, white eyes and white rump and wing patches. They are found in northwestern Oregon, California, the American Southwest and western Mexico through the Central American highlands and into the northern Andes of Colombia. According to www.seattleaudubon.org, acorn woodpeckers generally do not migrate, but may wander if local acorn crops fail.
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