Notes on Coot Shooting

Posted by on Nov 24, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Notes on Coot Shooting

Notes on Coot Shooting

One of the things I keep an eye out for each year, is the peak migration of American coots.  Most commonly referred to as mud hens, coots are those large black birds that appear on local wetlands each autumn – often in incredible abundance.  Coots are our largest representatives of the rail family, and I never let a season pass without bagging and eating at least a few.  Although held in high regard in America’s Deep South, coots are generally viewed with distain in the North, mostly because of the widespread...

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Prime Time Wood Ducks

Posted by on Oct 15, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Prime Time Wood Ducks

Prime Time Wood Ducks

October is a month like no other — four full weeks of unparalleled beauty.  If I could figure a way to make it happen, I’d take October, put it in a bottle and then relive the month over and over again.  For the outdoor enthusiast, there are a million things to see and do in October.  It’s a time when autumn colors peak, blue jays get noisy, fish launch their fall feeding frenzy, and sleek white-tail bucks put the final polish on glistening antlers.  Best of all, October is the month I get to spend with wood...

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Winter Wren Provides Surprise Sighting

Posted by on Oct 12, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Winter Wren Provides Surprise Sighting

Winter Wren Provides Surprise Sighting

The first half of October is a premier time for Iowa birding enthusiasts to hit the woods and waters.  The weather is mild, fall color has peaked, and birds are moving across our region by the thousands. Winter Wren – While observing a group of warblers foraging through thickly wooded understory, I spotted a nearby movement in the ground cover. Turned out to be a winter wren, an uncommon species that I haven’t seen since 2014. Spotting a species that you never expected to see is just one of the things that makes fall birding a...

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There’s a fox in my driveway! Now what do I do?

Posted by on Oct 7, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on There’s a fox in my driveway! Now what do I do?

There’s a fox in my driveway!  Now what do I do?

I wish I had kept track of how many calls I’ve received this year regarding the dramatic invasion of red fox into the residential neighborhoods across Northern Iowa. There have been “fox on my patio” calls — Fox crossing the deck, fox under the deck, fox walking down the front sidewalk, fox with pups by the garden, fox chasing squirrels, fox chowing down on squirrels, and fox begging for food in the Ventura school yard.  The list goes on. Backyard Intruder – A red fox strolls through a residential backyard Where...

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Eight Minute Goose Breast

Posted by on Oct 5, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Eight Minute Goose Breast

Eight Minute Goose Breast

By now, I think it’s obvious to everyone that Iowa’s giant Canada goose flock enjoyed banner production during 2020.  The event has not gone unnoticed by area waterfowlers who have been cashing in on some fast paced, early season action. But although hunters are enjoying early season success, there is also a potential downside.  Regardless of age, most Canada geese are still in the process of completing their summer molt.  Pin feathers abound.  So much so, in fact, that most birds cannot be dry picked [plucked] for at least...

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Bathing Beauties

Posted by on Oct 1, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Bathing Beauties

Bathing Beauties

Bird baths are an important component of successful backyard bird feeding.  During the heat of summer, the benefits of providing a cool drink or clean water for bathing are more than obvious.  In some cases, water can draw as many birds as the feeders themselves. But now that summer has passed and the weather is cooling, many people are tempted to put baths into winter storage.  This would be a mistake.  Whether the birds are year-round residents or wing weary migrants, water remains an essential ingredient to...

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Fall Warblers Present Ultimate Birding Challenge

Posted by on Sep 23, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Fall Warblers Present Ultimate Birding Challenge

Fall Warblers Present Ultimate Birding Challenge

Abandoning their summer homes in the North Country, tiny wood warblers are on the move.  For Iowa birding enthusiasts, the season’s most challenging migration has begun.  I use the word challenging because no other grouping of birds is more difficult to correctly identify than autumn warblers. Magnolia warber Even when warblers are bedecked in their finest spring plumage, making an accurate identification can be frustrating.  During the fall migration, things get even tougher as those same species arrive in their...

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September Odds & Ends

Posted by on Sep 21, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on September Odds & Ends

September Odds & Ends

Triplets:  Joyce Klunder called the other day.  She lives at the west end of Clear Lake in the Ventura Heights and wanted to report that she had just seen a white-tailed deer with fawns near the entrance of the Heights bike trail.  Although seeing a doe with her spotted offspring is always a heart-warming sight, the event usually doesn’t warrant a phone call.  It is, in fact, a common sight for those who spend much time poking around in the out-of-doors.  But this doe was special.  Instead of being followed...

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Timing is Everything

Posted by on Sep 3, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Timing is Everything

Timing is Everything

They say that timing is everything.  I think most of us would agree with that statement.  I’d also add that rarely has that well known phrase been more dramatically illustrated than during this year’s September 1st opening of Iowa’s 2020 Teal Season. Reinstated by the feds in 2014, Iowa teal seasons are designed to intercept southbound flocks of blue-winged teal, a duck species that often builds to peak numbers during early September but may migrate out of the state before regular waterfowl seasons begin.  So, if...

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Studying Ants

Posted by on Sep 1, 2020 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Studying Ants

Studying Ants

I bought another small farm last week.  I’m still pretty excited about that.  OK, so I should probably note that it’s only a plastic Ant Farm, but I’m excited just the same.  I know you might be wondering why a guy my age would purchase a product that’s normally found in the kiddie section of the local hobby shop.  Good question.  I don’t really know what started it all, but I’ve been fascinated with ants for about as long as I can remember.  Much of my early knowledge was obtained from...

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