Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Drumming in the season #phenology

We bought some more suet today, probably for the last time this season. (We know, we've written that before.) The extended forecast has daily high temperatures up to and above freezing starting with Friday of this week. Sometime thereafter, the local bear population will come out of hibernation and we want as much suet gone by then as possible. It remains to be seen if we'll actually do a good enough job of bringing in the feeders every night as the weather warms. Even after this year's new growth is well underway, bears seem to enjoy sunflower seed snacks with a side of bird feeder thrown in.

pileated woodpecker
pileated woodpecker
Photo by J. Harrington

At the moment, there's a downy woodpecker at the back feeder and a pileated out front. Yesterday a red-bellied woodpecker showed up a few times. In addition to woodpeckers, nuthatches and chickadees enjoy feeding on suet, much more so than any of the finches. Soon, mating season drumming will start. The Better Half confirmed hearing a chickadee's "fee-bee" call the other day.

We continue to make belated progress sorting out our fly-fishing gear. The last fly-line was weighed this morning. We still have to work through matching lines and reels with various rods, but we're almost organized enough to start the season (catch and release only closes 4/13; regular season opens 4/14 in southeast Minnesota's Driftless Area).

ruffed grouse
ruffed grouse
Photo by J. Harrington

Joining the drumming woodpeckers in the not too distant future will be ruffed grouse. We're sure there's an overlap between grouse drumming and turkey gobbling seasons, but we're not sure if either starts noticeably ahead of the other. We're a little too far south of good grouse habitat to be likely to confirm the drumming, but we can always hope the grouse will drift this way. We love just watching them. Brook trout and ruffed grouse are two comforting links between our home of origin and our adopted home.


By Ted Hughes

The Brooktrout, superb as a matador,
Sways invisible there
In water empty as air.

The Brooktrout leaps, gorgeous as a jaguar,
But dropping back into swift glass
Resumes clear nothingness.

The numb-cold current's brain-wave is lightning -
No good shouting: 'Look!'
It vanished as it struck.

You can catch Brooktrout, a goggling gewgaw -
But never the flash God made
Drawing the river's blade. 

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