Spring Migrations

Posted by on May 13, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Spring Migrations

Spring Migrations

The spring songbird migration is winging northward.  And while the larger and more colorful species – such as tanagers, orioles, and grosbeaks – tend to steal the annual show, there are other interesting, though less conspicuous, species that often tend to go unnoticed. Two of my favorites in this category are the white-throated and Harris’ sparrows.  Both species are easy to overlook, partly because they spend the majority of their time foraging beneath the foliage of dense woodland understory. Exiting the...

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Morels!

Posted by on May 11, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Morels!

Morels!

The much-anticipated, spring mushroom season is underway.  And although several mushroom species are edible, the famed morel reigns as undisputed king.  Exactly when morels populations will achieve peak numbers is an ever-popular topic of debate.  There are some trustworthy indicators.  Two of the most reliable are temperature and moisture.  In order to fruit, morel mushrooms need heat.  An ideal climate would provide nighttime temps in the low to mid-50s with daytime highs reaching 70 degrees or above. ...

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Caught in the Rain

Posted by on Apr 12, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Caught in the Rain

Caught in the Rain

There was no colorful sunrise.  No brilliant transition of night turning to day.  Instead, there was just a gradual increase of light among the solemn hues of an overcast morning.   I was sitting at the edge of a small wetland located within a mature stand of oaks.  The shallow oasis is a one my favorite wood duck hotspots.  Arriving before daylight, I was hoping to watch and photograph the morning activities of our most elegant waterfowl.  The rain abruptly ended, and I was treated several minutes of...

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Iowa Vultures

Posted by on Apr 7, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Iowa Vultures

Iowa Vultures

One robin may not make a spring, but when the turkey vultures return to Max Clausen’s barn, you can rest assured the season has changed.  Clausen’s barn is located on The Nature Conservancy’s Clausen’s Cove Area which adjoins Clear Lake’s south shore.  For the past five years, vultures have returned to make their nests in the barn’s now abandoned hay loft, making the species one of the region’s newest signs of spring. A pair of turkey vultures look for a potential nesting site in an abandoned barn at The Nature...

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2021 Spring Turkey Season

Posted by on Mar 29, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on 2021 Spring Turkey Season

2021 Spring Turkey Season

This year’s Spring Turkey Seasons begin April 9th with a special youth only hunt, followed by the first of four regular hunting seasons beginning April 12.  The final segment of the five-part, spring season concludes May16.  The seasons allows both shotgun and bow hunting, and Iowa hunters may purchase a total of two spring turkey tags. In spite of a slight decline in statewide turkey populations, Iowa hunters bagged more than 14,600 gobblers during the 2020 spring seasons; an all-time high since mandatory harvest reporting...

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Spring Waterfowl

Posted by on Mar 24, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Spring Waterfowl

Spring Waterfowl

The spring waterfowl migration is one of my favorite events on the annual outdoor calendar.  Anxious to get to northern nesting grounds, the first flocks of ducks began dotting the Iowa skies as soon as area wetlands began to thaw.  Once open water appears, migrant numbers steadily escalate as temperatures warm.  A mixed flock of northbound waterfowl pause to rest on a North Iowa wetland. Although northbound fowl can be viewed from the car window, you’ll receive a greater reward by adopting a more aggressive...

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What a Difference a Day Can Make!

Posted by on Mar 17, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on What a Difference a Day Can Make!

What a Difference a Day Can Make!

It’s an old familiar phrase that can apply to a lot of things.  This week, it applied to backyard birding. Following a complete snow melt and solid string of spring-like temperatures, backyard bird activity had declined.  Feeders that had enjoyed popularity through the cold weather winter months had become predictably quiet.  Only a half dozen or so bird species continued to appear daily.  Even these visits had become increasingly sporadic as birds seemed more interested in what they could find under last year’s...

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Good Rabbit

Posted by on Mar 15, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Good Rabbit

Good Rabbit

It was early March, and Iowa’s spring thaw was gathering a full head of steam.  Even in the north, snow cover was going fast.  Another day, maybe two, and it would all be gone.  Camouflaged beneath the tawny canopy of last year’s vegetation, the cottontail held its nerve, sitting tight until we nearly stepped on it.  Leaping into action, the cottontail beat a gazelle-like, high-speed exit.  Attila exploded from my gloved fist and the chase was on.  The cover was thick, but not thick enough.  In...

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Signs of Spring

Posted by on Mar 10, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring

Nearly everyone has a favorite sign that says spring is on the way.  It might be melting snow drifts, a noisy echelon of northbound geese, or the sighting of the season’s first robin.  This year, I’m adding chipmunks to the list.  That’s right, I said chipmunks. I know, of course, that chipmunks are still supposed to be deep into hibernation, sound asleep in their cozy underground dens.  But I also know of one chippie that isn’t.  I could scarcely believe my eyes when, early Sunday morning, I spotted...

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Spring Migration – Trumpeter Swans

Posted by on Mar 9, 2021 in Washburn's Outdoor Journal | Comments Off on Spring Migration – Trumpeter Swans

Spring Migration – Trumpeter Swans

Pushing hard on the heels of a retreating winter, migrating trumpeter swans are moving northward.  For area wildlife enthusiasts, the sight and sound of wild swans is a heart stirring event. With peak weights exceeding thirty pounds, the trumpeter swan is North America’s largest waterfowl.  Although swans were an abundant nesting species at the time of Iowa settlement, unregulated hunting for meat and skins coupled with wholesale wetland drainage led to a rapid demise.  By the mid-1880s, swans no longer existed in the...

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