The Spring wind blows strong and cold and is coming directly out of the north.
The Spring wind blows strong and cold and is coming directly out of the north. I set at the edge of a pond and despite my winter clothes and camouflaged covering, I am freezing. My exposed fingertips sting with pain, my hip waders, doing nothing to keep my feet warm. I expected this kind of weather in January or February, even March, but not now, some two weeks into April.
I shiver through the morning thinking of good things to come…and there are good things coming. We just have to deal with a bit of a delay this year for some things and with others, this delay just might prove beneficial.
Earlier this week I was sitting by a tiny pothole out at the marsh. Snipe just seemed to be everywhere. They were on the ground and even in flocks of at least fifty birds. For nearly four hours, sitting along that watering hole, there were never less than seven or eight using it at one time.
Went right back to that same location the very next day and everything was silent. The Snipe had disappeared. On occasion one would fly in to the back end of the pothole but other than that, the majority had seemed to leave overnight.
That is the way Spring goes however. Birds seem to show up just like magic, but they also leave the very same way. This year arrivals and some departures of birds have been delayed because of the weather but it seems that we will finally get a string of favorable winds to aid in the arrival of many of our Spring migrants. Three or fours days of south winds should bring in a host of new birds for our area, something I have been waiting for.
The snow geese have really surprised me this year. This past week I spent several days photographing them. It is still a big group, two or three thousand at least. Typically we always have a handful hanging around this time of year but not quite the numbers I have seen this year. I type this early on a Thursday morning and I almost bet that when I get out to the marsh this morning all the snows will be gone. It is time for them to leave.
I had an interesting morning with a mink earlier this week (see photo). I spotted him at the edge of a watering hole. It is more of a run-off ditch but deep enough to have a fish or two in it. The mink would dive down into the water and then come back up on the bank and shake off. It did this two or three times but finally after one dive it came up with a bluegill. Mink usually eat their food right on the spot but this one took off and quickly disappeared into the brushy undercover.
In the winter we typically find Northern Harriers flying around the marshy areas. Most however will be females that are brown in color. Rarely will I see a male, which is gray in color. I do however see the most males in late winter/early Spring as they migrate through the area. They will hang around for a short period before they are gone. For several years now I have been trying to get a decent photograph of a male harrier and finally this year I got that chance. I just happened to spot this gray ghost as it came out over some bank brush and if luck would have it, it flew right in my direction. You don’t get much time, so you have to shoot like crazy to hopefully get one good shot. I got two that day; you see one of those here.
Yes, they are finding mushrooms in southern Illinois and that progression route is slowly making its way toward us. Don’t get too excited yet as the ground is still cold and is not going to warm up much in the coming days (snow forecasted again this weekend). But if it does finally warm up quickly we just might be finding some mushrooms before the thick undergrowth takes hold. The last several years we have had to battle weeds to find mushrooms but that might have been a good thing as those that were left standing have deposited a good spore season. As long as we get some early moisture, this season just might be a good one.
We also need that warm weather to get the fishing going. I haven’t thought much about the fly rod yet this season. People are catching fish and those that have been braving the cold weather have been having some success. Lakeland Park in Canton is finally open so give that a try to get your fishing season started.
We are going to get teased for a few days with some warm weather but only for a few days as that we change quickly once again. These cold days are limited now, and it can only get better. Get out and enjoy and make the best out of the day. It’s that time of year. Great adventures to you.