Out and About with Bob

Bob Lamb

I caught my largest bluegill ever - at least 11 inches -  off Ol’ Tom’s boathouse on Wednesday afternoon.
The bad news? I forgot the camera in my Jeep and it was one of only three “keeper” fish I caught. I released all of them, but will most certainly return later this week for another try.
Despite the sub, 5-foot Mississippi River stage, and being in a small inlet off the backwaters of the Black River, fishing has been pretty good ever since Saturday. In less than a half hour, I caught 3 large sunfish, 1 jumbo perch and 1 super-sized crappie. It was enough to lure me back Sunday when I caught 12 sunfish for the frypan.
However, Tuesday was poor.
Big fish - bass and northern pike - are also active in the small bay, rolling their dorsal fins and splatting the water near shore.
Bass are extremely active in local waters and just in time for Sunday’s 3 Rivers Bass Fall Frenzy Open on pools 7-8-9.
Raccoon are also active. I dodged a few young road-killed raccoon on my drive to West Salem and back on Wednesday.
Bucks are in their pre-rut phase with gentle sparring with other males. Look for bolder activity to pick up quickly within the next several days.
Meanwhile, across the Mississippi River, Minnesota DNR conservation officer Tyler Ramaker, in La Crescent, reports seeing good numbers of local ducks in advance of the upcoming waterfowl season. Small-game and archery hunters were contacted during this past weekend’s opener. Enforcement action was taken after a deer baiting/attractant investigation was completed.
DNR conservation officer Mitch Boyum, in Rushford, reports a very busy small-game and archery deer opener. High numbers of hunters were seen. Success was good. Bowhunters reported seeing multiple deer. Time was also spent checking small-game hunters. Success was spotty. Squirrel hunters reported a poor walnut season and squirrel numbers seemed low. Violations encountered were no deer license, borrowing/lending a license, no blaze orange while small-game hunting and failure to validate a deer tag.
Until we meet, have a great day outdoors.

Wisconsin Birding Report

After a brief and unusual mid-month lull, birding activity picked up greatly this past week at many locations statewide.
Warblers made a welcome resurgence with most species being seen again in good numbers. Diversity was best in the south, while northern birders noted an abundance of yellow-rumped and palm warblers, many gleaning insects off sunlit lawns and homesteads.
Other warm weather birds like vireos, tanagers, flycatchers, orioles, nighthawks, whip-poor-wills and cuckoos are down to just a few lingering migrants. Ruby-throated hummingbirds have largely departed the north, but will remain in the south for another week or two. Continue to offer and maintain your feeder as this will help later migrants and not discourage the birds from migrating.
The transition to later migrants typical of the cool season is well underway. Sparrows are surging up north with large numbers of white-throated, swamp, song and Lincoln’s, as well as a few white-crowned, chipping, savannah and the first fox sparrows. Keep an eye out for the less common Harris’s sparrow, especially in western Wisconsin.
Dark-eyed juncos have been seen statewide now and numbers are building in the north woods.
Statewide, birders are finding both ruby-crowned and golden-crowned kinglets, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, northern flickers, increasing numbers of American robins and some rusty blackbirds alongside common grackles and red-winged blackbirds. Open fields and shorelines are now hosting a few American pipits, Lapland longspurs and horned larks, while blue jays and cedar waxwings are prevalent in many locations.
As purple finches and red-breasted nuthatches continue to show better than usual statewide, pine siskins are making a surge into the state, especially in the north, but even as far south as Milwaukee, and some are visiting feeders already, both signs that it could be a good winter for viewing these species.
The 2020 Winter Finch Forecast was recently released and suggests redpolls may also brighten the winter landscape this year.
Overhead, broad-winged hawks have peaked and many, but not all are now south of Wisconsin. Late September and early October are a great time to look for migrating merlins and peregrine falcons, especially along the Lake Michigan shore when winds are out of the southwest. Other raptors like sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks, American kestrels, northern harriers and ospreys may also be seen.
Waterbird migration is at a crossroads this time of year. Shorebird migration is waning, although diversity remains good at suitable habitat and numbers for some species can remain decent through mid-October. Greater and lesser yellowlegs, black-bellied and American golden-plovers, sanderling, long-billed dowitcher, Wilson’s snipe and American woodcock are a few of the species moving through now.
Meanwhile, goose and duck migration is slowly building. Look for blue-winged and green-winged teal, northern pintail, American wigeon, wood ducks and other dabblers at lakes and wetlands. Divers generally come later, though small numbers are already being seen.
Common and Forster’s terns are departing now, while Bonaparte’s gulls have a somewhat protracted migration through the fall.
Rare birds spotted since our last report include Eurasian wigeon in Marathon, an ibis species in Oconto, parasitic jaegers and Sabine’s gulls in both Douglas and Jefferson, and yellow-crowned night-heron and black-bellied whistling ducks in La Crosse, the latter including a brood of ducklings that furnish the first-ever documented nesting of a whistling duck in Wisconsin.
After a mild weekend, next week looks cooler with intermittent rain chances and frequent west winds, which are generally favorable for migration. Expect a continued shift from warm weather to cold weather birds statewide and especially in the north.
Find out what others are seeing and report your finds at www.ebird.org/wi.
Good birding!

SOURCE: Ryan Brady, DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program biologist

Wild Birds Unlimited

Karen Perry from Wild Birds Unlimited

Let’s talk about Wild Birds Unlimited Bark Butter…
What? Another bird food, I say YES, this stuff is awesome! No other bird food attracts more species of birds than Jim’s Birdacious® Bark Butter®, created by Jim Carpenter, the founder of Wild Birds Unlimited.  
Bark Butter is a spreadable suet that can easily be smeared on tree bark or a bark butter feeder.
After the great success of the spreadable style and finding out how many birds were attracted to it, they came up with some different ways to feed Bark Butter so even MORE birds could enjoy it. We have the original Bark Butter, Bark Butter bits, Bark Butter Bits and Bugs Bark Butter no-melt cylinder and Bark Butter Quickbites!
Remember, last week I talked about the different types of feeders to attract more species, well this food will help you attract even more and we have different types of feeders this food can be put into. Bark Butter bites can also be added to the food that you put in your hopper, seed tube of fly-through feeders.
As of April 20, there have been over 152 species that have been attracted to Bark Butter!
Just a few: Cardinals, chickadees, woodpeckers, robins, bluebirds, tanagers, wrens, orioles, titmice, jays, nuthatches, warblers, catbirds, juncos, sparrows, towhees and on and on.
Stop in at Wild Birds Unlimited in Onalaska, WI, 608-781-5088.
Happy Birding,
Karen Perry

Jerry Davis

From Southern Wisconsin

The first of 10 Wisconsin deer hunting seasons began mid-September. The last season closes Jan. 31, 2021.
Deer seasons generally provide the most sustenance for those who gather from outdoors by hunting, fishing, picking, digging, admiring and viewing.
Together, the archery and crossbow hunting opened Sept. 12, and is continuous through Jan. 3, 2021, when it then continues in select units Jan. 4-31. This extension is called the extended archery and crossbow season.
Wisconsin’s youth deer hunt (Oct. 10-11) and the gun deer hunt for hunters with disabilities (Oct. 3-11) follow.
The state’s traditional, nine-day gun deer season is still on the late side this year, Nov. 21-29, with the metro sub-unit gun deer season running Nov. 21-Dec. 9. The muzzleloaders hunt is Nov. 30-Dec. 9.  
A four-day antlerless hunt, Dec. 10-13, precedes the Holiday Hunt from Dec. 24-Jan. 1.
Some of these seasons are statewide. Others are restricted to select deer management units.
Please note that other hunters, with the exception of waterfowlers, must follow the blaze orange clothing law in those units where gun deer hunting of any kind is occurring.
Blaze pink is also an acceptable safety color. Non-hunting recreationists aren’t required to wear safety colors, but often times they willingly do, making themselves more noticeable.
Hunters wearing caps must have at least 50 percent blaze orange or blaze pink. Not doing so is a common, albeit, illegal display.
Baiting and feeding of deer is not permitted in some units, and there are restrictions on the ways scents can be used, too.
Meanwhile, mosquitoes are not in short supply. Even spotty frost was not enough to diminish the swarms, according to Doug Williams in Portage.
Williams, at DW Sports Center in Portage, continues to remind hunters that rifle ammunition is in short supply this year, so purchase early, sight in the rifle, but don’t waste the ammunition at the range.
Ginseng digging and selling to licensed buyers has been comfortably busy, according to Mike Theiss, of Hsu Ginseng, out of Wausau, who is buying in Readstown.  
“It’s the same story with the economy and being out-of-work,” he said. “There are more diggers, the ground is now moist and plants are going into the winter mode.”
Theiss started buying at $150 per pound and made one purchase at $170 for an exceptionally large root. Diggers are bringing in 2-3 pounds and some have up to 5-8 pounds of root.
The DNR believes a new method of counting wolves, an occupancy-based model, may be better than the older long-standing territory mapping method. The results are being compared.
Bear hunting dates and methods of hunting continue to progress through the seasons in Zones A, B and D. All seasons close Oct. 13.
Williams, who scored some bucks in the 125 to 140 range, also said large bluegills are really biting along shores with anglers using ice jigs with worms, setting the bobber at about a foot. He said teal and early goose seasons were good for many who were out.
Don Martin, at Martin’s in Monroe, said catfishing and squirrel hunting are the most discussed outdoors topics these days. Some hunters have seen more turkeys than squirrels, but had the wrong implement to take a shot. Archers are out, but not overly rushed to take a shot, rather enjoying their time in the woods. Ammunition shortages are a hot topic in Green County, too.
American goldfinches have found automatic feeders in the form of drying coneflowers in prairies. How they are able to take a tiny seed from a very small, dry fruit makes an observer hungry just watching.
Color is beginning to paint hillsides and small tracts. Watch for overcast days for excellent viewing of small fall.

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-924-1112