Wednesday, June 10, 2020

History of Garry's Taxidermy Methods for Fish Reproduction Mounts

Garry found some old photos that showed how he developed his methods for fish reproductions and skin mounted fish with cast heads. He thought some people might like to see how this is done. 

In 1983, Garry had a client who was a fish collector for the aquarium trade. While in South America at the headwaters of the Amazon River in Peru, he collected a specimen of a Tiger Striped Catfish, which was recently discovered in that area. When he returned to Wisconsin, the specimen died and he brought it to Garry to do a reproduction. The fish was approximately 27 inches long. 


SPECIMEN BEFORE FINS AND WHISKERS REMOVED


REFERENCE PICTURES OF THE ADIPOSE FIN AREA



FIN REFERENCE

NOTE THE LONG TRAILING TAIL FIN TIPS

WHISKER DETAIL. NOTICE THE SMALL EYE.

HEAD REFERENCE

WHISKERS REMOVED FOR CASTING 

PECTORAL AND VENTRAL FINS REMOVED AND THE FISH
 IS POSITIONED IN A BED OF HI-FIBER CASTING MATERIAL.
NOTE THE ROUND KEYS PRESSED INTO THE HI-FIBER.  

HEAD DETAIL IN HI-FIBER

TAIL AND ANAL FINS POSITIONED

A SPLASH COAT WAS POURED OVER THE WHOLE FISH, THEN
A SECOND, HEAVIER COAT OF PLASTER WAS USED TO THICKEN THE MOLD.
HE USED A HYDROCAL DENTAL PLASTER. 

AFTER HARDENING, THE MOLD IS FLIPPED OVER.  

TAIL DETAIL 

BEFORE POURING THE SPLASH COAT, THIN LAYER OF LIQUID SOAP WAS APPLIED TO THE EXPOSED PLASTER FOR EASE OF SEPARATION. 

AFTER THE SECOND HALF OF THE MOLD WAS CURED, THE FISH WAS REMOVED FROM THE MOLD. 

THE VENTRAL AND PECTORAL FINS WERE CAST SEPARATELY WITH A SIMILAR PROCESS.  AGAIN, NOTE THE ROUND KEYS IN THE MOLD. 

THE FINISHED FIN MOLD, AFTER IT HAS DRIED AND HAS BEEN COATED WITH 3-LB ORANGE SHELLAC. 

GARRY DIDN'T TAKE ANY PHOTOS OF ASSEMBLING THE FISH. THIS IS THE FINISHED REPRODUCTION, TOP VIEW SHOWING SUPPORT WIRES ATTACHED TO DRIFTWOOD. 

FINISHED TIGER STRIPED CATFISH.
 THE WHISKERS WERE RECREATED USING WIRE AND ALL-GAME SCULPTING PUTTY. THE LONG, FLAT HEAD OF THIS TYPE OF CATFISH
 IS INDICATIVE OF THE FAST WATER HABITAT THEY LIVE IN. 

TIGERFISH CAUGHT BY GARRY IN THE ZAMBEZI RIVER IN ZIMBABWE. HE BROUGHT PLASTER ALONG TO DO MOLD MAKING, BECAUSE THERE WAS NO WAY TO BRING A FISH BACK FROM AFRICA. 

REFERENCE PICTURES OF SOME TIGERFISH GARRY CAUGHT. 

HEAD DETAIL 

BECAUSE VERY LIMITED SUPPLIES WOULD BE AVAILABLE IN AFRICA, GARRY BROUGHT HYDROCAL PLASTER WITH HIM. GARRY USED RIVER SAND TO SET THE FISH UP FOR POURING THE MOLD. 

PLASTER WAS LIMITED, AS HE WAS ALSO USING IT FOR MAKING BIG GAME DEATH MASKS, SO HE DID NOT CAST THE FINS ON THE BACKSIDE OF THIS TIGERFISH MOLD. HE BROUGHT ROLLS OF PLASTER MUSLIN GAUZE USED IN MEDICAL CAST MAKING. THIS MATERIAL WORKED GREAT TO STRENGTHEN MOLDS HE MADE. THIS IS THE MOLD AFTER HE RETURNED HOME AND APPLIED SHELLAC BEFORE MAKING THE POSITIVE OF THE TIGERFISH REPRODUCTION. 


RAINBOW TROUT HEAD REPRODUCTION


In 1982, Garry began to experiment and developed his method of casting fish heads with plaster molds for skin-mounted fish. In 1984 he began using Alginate for a casting material, as it picked up better detail. He also began using flexible polyester resins for the head reproduction. Various methods were experimented with, including mixing Bondo with the polyester resin. At that time, he also developed a method of pouring a plaster mouth plug in the fish's mouth and using that negative mold to make a latex duplicate of the inside of the fish's mouth. The rainbow trout head below shows the latex mouth attached to the polyester resin reproduction. The reproduction fish heads were attached to the skin-mounted fish, eliminating the shrinkage of the fish head. This method is the standard way most fish are mounted today. 


The rainbow trout head in this picture was cast by Garry during a seminar at the 1985 World Taxidermy Championship. He also did a seminar on mounting fish with head reproductions at the 1986 World Taxidermy Championship. He has written articles about his methods for Breakthrough Magazine and the Breakthrough Fish Taxidermy Manual. 


THIS HEAD REPRODUCTION WAS FOR A YELLOW BULLHEAD. GARRY USED HIS REFERENCES TO RECREATE WHISKERS FROM WIRE AND SCULPTING PUTTY. 

FINISHED 2 1/2 POUND YELLOW BULLHEAD

REDHORSE SUCKER WITH CAST HEAD



















Friday, May 24, 2019

You Can Eat That? Daylily Buds Recipe

We wrote this post last year, after we harvested and cooked daylily buds, but saved it to post in advance of this year's season. So, if you want to try something new, watch your daylily plants for June blooms and harvest before the flowers come out. Once blooming starts, the buds are available for a few weeks.  I don't have the nutritional information - but you can probably find that somewhere! 

Did you know that daylily buds are edible? Yes, you can pick daylily buds, boil them and eat them! They taste a lot like asparagus. Serve with a little butter and salt - yummy! 



These common Daylily Plants bloom all over the Milwaukee area, but be sure to only pick and cook them if you know they haven't been sprayed with pesticides, of course. 


Pick the buds at any time before they bloom, the size doesn't matter. 



These buds could be picked, but leave the flowers. 



Freshly picked daylily buds, ready to trim and wash.



Any size bud can be cooked before bloom, the large one here is acceptable, as is the tiny one. 


Remove the stems, only cook the buds. 



Rinse the trimmed buds in clean water and drain.



Bring enough water to boil to cover the buds, adding about a teaspoon of salt. 


It's OK if the buds float in the water. 



Cover the pan, lower the heat to simmer and cook for about 3 minutes, or until tender. 



Drain, and serve. We like to add butter and salt. They taste a lot like asparagus. 




Saturday, April 27, 2019

Birds of the Texas Coast

Pair of blackbellied tree ducks, at Paradise Pond, Port Aransas, Texas

We took a day trip to the Brownsville, Texas area in the lower Rio Grande Valley on the Mexican border. Our first stop was the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge on the Rio Grande River. Near the refuge I spotted this beautiful orange bird (below) and called Garry over to see it. He got very excited because it's rare to see an Altamira Oriole. They are a Mexican species that ranges into the Rio Grande Valley, which is the case for many of the species we saw there, including the Green Jay and Great Kiskadee. Those three birds are the "holy grail" for birdwatchers in that area, so we were very lucky to see all at the same time. 

Altamira Oriole, Santa Ana NWR, McAllen, Texas

Green Jay, Santa Ana NWR, McAllen, Texas
 
Great Kiskadee with Atlamira Orioles and Redwinged Blackbirds
 Seconds before Garry took this picture, a Green Jay flew away from the feeder. He really wanted to get all 3 birds in one photo. 
Inca Dove, Santa Ana NWR, McAllen, Texas
The Inca Dove ranges through southern Texas. We saw Plain Chachalaca,a female Hook-billed Kite, Clay-colored Robins, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, and Whitewing Doves. We drove east of Brownsville along the Rio Grande to near the mouth of the Rio Grande river on Brazos Island. We saw thousands of shore birds as well as several Whitetailed Kites and Whitetailed Hawks. 
Brown Pelican, Padre Island National Seashore
 Brown pelicans were more common than the white pelicans, and we saw them everywhere. At the neighborhood bait shop, Garry encountered a pelican walking into the bait shop after him, looking for some lunch!
Brown Pelicans resting on a small island near our condo, N. Padre Island, Texas
 In the above photo, you can see the nests of Great Blue Herons and Black-crowned Night Herons, in the bushes and short trees.  
Pelicans near our condo. 

White Pelicans, Laguna Madre, Padre Island National Seashore, Texas
 During breeding season. white pelicans develop a knob on their bill. 
White Pelicans, Port Aransas, Texas
 We saw this flock of white pelicans while on a birdwatching boat tour out of Port Aransas. 
Double-crested Cormorant in front of our condo, N. Padre Island, Texas
 Double-crested Cormorants were most common, but there were also Neotropic Cormorants in the area, which are only found on the lower Texas coast and down into Central America. 
Osprey near our condo, N. Padre Island, Texas 
 This osprey roosted in front of our condo every day. Osprey were very prevalent on Padre Island. 
Osprey with a fish, flying past our window, N. Padre Island, Texas

Crested Caracara, Padre Island National Seashore
 The Crested Caracara is found in southern Texas into Central America. 
White-tailed Hawk, Padre Balli State Park, N. Padre Island, Texas
 The White-tailed Hawk is a Mexican species that ranges into the southern Texas coast. 
Black Vultures, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, near Rockport, Texas
 Turkey vultures were common everywhere. We saw more Black Vultures at Aransas Refuge. 
Turkey Vulture, Aransas NWR

Blackbellied Tree Duck, a block from our condo
Garry had hunted and collected his first black-bellied tree ducks near Corpus Christi ten years ago. Thirty years ago they were rare in Texas, and were usually found in Mexico, and into Central and South America. Now they are becoming more common, and we've seen them in Louisiana and Florida. Garry was hoping to get a photo of a Blackbellied Tree Duck on this trip, and we were surprised to see flocks of them in our neighborhood. I spotted some on a neighbor's roof when we first arrived at our rented condo on North Padre Island, and I asked Garry what those strange birds were. He was very excited to see them so close, and since the neighbor was feeding them regularly, we saw them every day during our stay. 



Blackbellied Tree Ducks are a very unusual beautiful bird, and very few duck hunters or birdwatchers have had the opportunity to see them. We also saw them fly over the water while we watched out the window at our condo. 



 Garry noticed that the birds roosted at night on brackish water and when it rained, the Blackbellies drank fresh water out of the puddles on the street. 

Blackbellied Tree Duck, Paradise Pond, Port Aransas, Texas
Garry also saw a pair of Blackbellies at Paradise Pond in Port Aransas, which is a freshwater pond in the middle of town, so he assumed they were looking for nesting spots there. 
 
Pintails in front of our condo
 Garry took this photo off our deck at the condo and a couple of groups of Pintails fed every morning near our dock. 

Blue-winged Teal, Paradise Pond, Port Aransas, Texas

Blue Winged Teal, Padre Island National Seashore
 During the month of February, we saw more Blue-Winged Teal each day coming into the ponds at Padre Island National Seashore. As the weather warmed, Garry assumed they were migrating north from Mexico. Most of the flocks began feeding immediately after landing on the ponds while he was birdwatching every morning. 
Green-winged Teal, Oso Bay, Corpus Christi, Texas
 Green-winged teal were less common than Blue-wings, and the Green-wings did feed on salt water at times. We saw one Cinnamon Teal mixed in with Blue-Wings, which were always on freshwater ponds. 
American Widgeon, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Pintail, Green-winged Teal and Black Skimmers,
Oso Bay, Corpus Christi, Texas
 There is a nice boardwalk at the Hans and Pat Suter Wildlife Refuge in Corpus Christi on Oso Bay, which is a great spot to watch birds. Only a few of the boardwalks have been repaired since Hurricane Harvey in August of 2017, so there were areas we couldn't visit, especially near Port Aransas in the wildlife area of Charlie's Prairie. We're hoping that when we visit again, the repairs will have been done and we can get out into the wetlands. The priority has been repairing homes and businesses, and public areas will follow, 
Buffleheads in front of our condo
 Up to 50 Buffleheads at a time would feed in front of our deck at the condo, on Laguna Madre. 

Flock of Readheads coming off of Laguna Madre, Corpus Christi, Texas
 Laguna Madre is a major wintering area for Redhead Ducks. Every day from our window at the condo we saw a raft of Redheads which was over a half-mile long. They would make feeding flights in the morning and evening. One morning when Garry was south of the condo, he saw a flock of Redheads take about five minutes to fly past; there were so many birds. The Redheads feed on the saltwater bay, and many birds went into freshwater ponds to drink. 
Same flock of redheads after landing on a freshwater pond, Padre Island National Seashore

Redheads near our condo
 We saw 15 different species of ducks in our area along the coast during our stay in February. 
Egyptian Geese, Brackenridge Park, San Antonio, Texas
We added this picture with the waterfowl photos. The Egyptian Geese are native to most of Africa. We saw them in Brackenridge Park in San Antonio, which is near the Zoo and Witte Museum. Whether they were released or have escaped from the zoo, they are breeding along the San Antonio River. We saw more than 25. Garry has more bird photos which will be in another post, including some from the Texas Hill Country area.