Out and About with Bob

Bob Lamb

Snow, snow and more snow.
When will winter ever end?
The older I get, the less I enjoy winter. It simply seems to drag on forever, especially a COLD, SNOWY winter. Well, I guess we just have to cross the days off the calendar and dream about SPRING, SUMMER and FALL.
My daily drives around the Coulee Region have produced several interesting views of nature.
* Be sure to check out the Neshonoc Dam video on our homepage. BRRR... it sure was cold that day.
* Deer trails are becoming more prominent and hard-packed despite the frequent snow.
* I was noticing more roadkills during the very brief warm-up, but they have tapered off with the recent snowfalls. Snowplows could be scraping the dead critters off roads before we even get a chance to see or avoid them. As snow melts, we will see their carcasses on the sides of the roads.
* Fishermen are scattering more and more on the ice as they attempt to find a few new hot spots.
* Ice anglers below dams are catching a few walleye and sauger, but nothing great, according to my sources.
* While I was grilling early Tuesday evening, a herd of deer were congregating in the huge field near our condo in the valley. It was so funny watching one deer after another race down a heavily trodden trail to reach the cornfield.
* Snowmobilers, downhill and cross-country skiers, snowshoers and sledders are out in full force thanks to the deep snow throughout the Greater La Crosse Area.
* My younger friends tell me that business is brisk at Mount La Crosse.
* La Crosse County snowmobile trails and beyond are open and either groomed or being groomed this week.
* Minnesota DNR conservation officer Tom Hemker, stationed in Winona, reports the weather lightened the number of anglers within the last week. He added that snowmobile trails in the Winona area are back open and in good shape.
Until we meet, have a great day outdoors.


Jerry Davis

From Southern Wisconsin

Birds and mammals aren’t the only animals needing help when winter weather tries its best to continue.
Outdoors recreationists might think of landowners and farmers in particular, and ask, “Is there anything I can help you with as a neighbor or one who has borrowed your land to hunt, hike, photograph, gather and sightsee?”
Shoveling snow surely comes to mind and dozens of other tasks as the season changes to spring and beyond. One might be surprised what these people could use a hand doing.
In addition to feeding birds, get rid of some of the snow under the feeders for those ground-loving juncos. Notice all the birds who make use of roadsides where the plows have opened up the earth.   
Our own feet and legs could use help, too. Snowshoes anyone? Or gaiters, those boot extensions for conditions like this when the snow is deeper than boots are tall. And of course boot chains, commonly called creepers, save many a trip to the emergency room to repair a broken bone. There’s ice under all this snow.
I was surprised to get an email from California, of a handful of morel mushrooms. What a lift in February, but in 2012 Wisconsinites were finding morels here in late March. Really!
Sapcicles, those frozen icicles emerging from cracks, cuts and breaks in maple tree bark are beginning to appear. That’s a sure sign sap is beginning to run on warmer, sunny days. Watch for birds and squirrels to find these sweets (four percent sucrose) as well and lick or soak up the liquid sap, too.
Even putting out a cup to collect some sap, any maple tree will do, will bring a chickadee or two to the cup’s brim.
Continue to look for other signs that spring will eventually appear. Skunks will come out of hibernation and join opossum who are already working roadside carrion, sometimes becoming it themselves.
Bonus turkey permit counter sales begin March 18, for Zone 1 with the other six zones to follow on March 19, March 20, and so on until March 23, when all permits for all zones are available, one per customer per day. Prices remain the same, $10 and $15 for residents and nonresidents, respectively.
Two federal bills, which might eventually help in the management of chronic wasting disease are being discussed. CWD is now found in 26 states. It impacts deer, elk, moose and caribou. Continue to watch for snowmobilers, trails closing, ice shanty removal deadlines and ice safety in general.
Refrain from that urge to feed deer, even though they are seeking anything edible, including tree bark and attached lichens, mosses and algae. The enjoy white cedar trees and shrubs, as well as white pines and dried leaves on oaks. Any frozen fruits, including crabapples, are targeted, too.
Where deer feed, even in yards, is a likely location for an antler to be dropped. Some are hanging on long enough that some hunters are jokingly calling them horns, which are never shed.
Bald eagles are beginning to sit on the first egg laid in all these winter elements. If an eagle is sitting low in a nest bowl, it is incubating and will not leave until the mate comes to take its shift.     
Winter doldrums should never keep us from participating in the outdoors, but may require searching for different activities.
Kids are not the only ones who may need to be told, “Get off the sofa strap on some appropriate footwear and get outside.”

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

Chad Knapmiller

Schafer's River Rentals

Snow, snow, snow.  
This last round really put a damper on travel on the ice. The roads need to be plowed again on the ice. I am going to try and track someone down to do that. They are still passable with trucks, but vehicles that sit lower to the ground may struggle.  
As far as fishing goes, the bluegill bite has picked up by the airport lights with both size and quantity being reported.  
We are inching ever closer to the late ice perch. They are starting to move around a bit. The next few weeks that should really start to take off.  
The northern bite is also showing signs of improvement and should continue that way.  
Crappies remain the same - early and late.  
Stop in for the latest report!
Thanks,
Chad


Wild Birds Unlimited

Karen Perry from Wild Birds Unlimited

Aloha from Hawaii,
It's hard to believe we are still talking snow and birds having issues taking care of themselves. So I say, REPEAT AND REPEAT!!!
Birds need food, suet, WBU bark butter in any or all of the forms, high fat seeds and or good blends without the fillers!  
Birds need you to stay the course and not let them down.  
Birds need water!!!! Yes, to keep their feathers clean to keep them warm.
If you see robins, get yourself some “hulled” seed and soak up some raisins, etc. OR, just make it easy on yourself and go to Wild Birds Unlimited in Onalaska (608-781-5088).
We KNOW what your birds need! PLUS, we have sales on seed. Don’t put out bread crumbs etc., not good, not helpful, more harmful.
GO to the experts at Wild Birds Unlimited. Thank you and we look forward to taking care of your outdoor bird feeding needs!
Karen Perry

West-Central Wisconsin

West-Central Wisconsin

KINNICKINICK STATE PARK - Cross-country ski trails were groomed and tracked on Monday, Feb. 18, and were in excellent condition, according to Eric Klumb, ranger.

BLACK RIVER STATE FOREST - Cross-country ski trails were packed and tracked Thursday Feb. 21. They are in good to excellent condition, said Emily Alf, visitor services associate.

RED CEDAR STATE TRAIL - Cross-country ski trails were groomed Friday, Feb. 15.
The skate lanes and tracks also were groomed Feb. 15. The trails have 8 inches of fresh snow accumulation and are in excellent condition. There is a 14-inch base and more than 2 feet of snow on the ground.

HOFFMAN HILLS STATE RECREATION AREA - Cross-country ski trails were groomed and tracked Friday, Feb. 15. Conditions were excellent with all the recent snowfall.
The Squirrel Tail trails and Hawk Ridge Trail maybe soft in spots, but the rest of the trails are firm and have good tracks set.

BUCKHRON STATE PARK - Cross-country ski trails are groomed for cross-country skiing.
Central Sands trail is packed in both directions, but track cannot be set due to 6-foot snow drifts off the lake onto the trail.
Barrens trail, Glacial Lake, Timber Trail and the path from sites 26-29 through the first loop of the campground are packed for snowshoeing and tracked on one side for classic skiing.
Trails are in good condition and several people were skiing and snowshoeing over the weekend.
Snowshoes are available to check out for free at the park office, according to Heather Wolf, park manager.


Wisconsin Birding Report

More snow led to more winter-like birding conditions across the state this week, with few signs of any migration activity quite yet.
Horned larks and a few eastern and western meadowlarks were spotted along roadsides in southern and central parts of the state but it's hard to know if these are true migrants or overwintering birds pushed to bare ground by snow cover elsewhere.
Other winter field birds like rough-legged and red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, northern shrikes, snow buntings and some snowy owls also continue to be seen.
It's standard fare at most feeders too, although this week saw a slight uptick in reports of common redpolls as natural food supplies wane and become less accessible. Still, this species has been very scarce this winter compared to last.
Bald eagle watching has been good at many traditional sites where open water remains. For example, observers at Prairie du Sac reported from dozens to 100-plus eagles recently. The Mississippi River is another great destination, especially this weekend during the Bald Eagle Appreciation Days event in Prairie du Chien.
Over on Lake Michigan, a red-throated loon, white-winged scoter, 1000-plus Canada geese, and a few other ducks were noteworthy in Port Washington (Ozaukee).
Some years see migration of greater white-fronted geese and other waterfowl by late February, but that has not yet occurred and is unlikely given next week's cold forecast. Unfortunately, that pattern likely extends as well to land birds like sandhill cranes, red-winged blackbirds, killdeer and others that sometimes arrive to the state's southern counties by March 1.
Of note this week were continuing varied thrushes (pictured) in Brown and Sauk counties.
Find out what others are seeing and report your finds at www.ebird.org/wi.
Good birding!

SOURCE: Ryan Brady, conservation biologist, Ashland

Around the Badger State

Around the Badger State

After starting out the winter with a lack of snow, February is making up for it.
Earlier in the week, the southern half of the state received 4 to 6 inches of snow and in the last couple of days the north and northwest received from 4 to 8 inches of snow.
Snowmobile trails are now open in most, but not all, counties across the state with conditions rated as good or excellent in many counties on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report. Many state properties were regrooming cross-country ski trails and ski trail conditions ranged from good to excellent.
Some freezing rain fell in the south after the snow, resulting in some icy conditions in some locations. Temperatures are expected to warm this weekend, especially in the south where more rain is also in the forecast, while the north is expected to get more snow.
With all the recent snow, conditions should be excellent for the American Birkebeiner Ski Race this weekend in the Hayward-Cable area. It is the largest ski race in North America and attracts thousands of skiers from all over the country and world - skiers from 49 states and 36 countries participated in 2018 - and draws tens of thousands of spectators to the area.
The recent snow events made for difficult access, and travel on the ice was severely limited. Fishing pressure shadowed these limitations with low fishing pressure everywhere after the snow storm. There have been a few fishermen out on northern lakes enjoying limited success for walleye, crappie and perch.
Ice conditions on the Lake Winnebago System ranges from open water to 20-plus inches. Anglers have been having some success with walleye, sauger and perch mid lake.
Only three days remain in the 2019 sturgeon spear fishery on Lake Winnebago. Many sturgeon spearers have been moving their shacks to areas of better visibility.
Some anglers continue to fish the west shore of Green Bay catching a few whitefish and lots of smaller perch. The Fox River had high fishing pressure at Fox Point landing, where there were reports of yellow perch and walleye being caught but with little success of catching keepers. Voyageur Park had low fishing pressure this week.
Deer are now starting to travel on plowed roads to get out of the snow - not good as several road kills have been observed recently. The snow is making trapping and tracking difficult. Ermine and porcupines are active. Ravens are engaged in mating behavior and wolves are mating.
Bald eagle watching has been good at many traditional sites where open water remains. For example, observers at Prairie du Sac reported from dozens to 100-plus eagles recently. The Mississippi River is another great destination, especially this weekend during the Bald Eagle Appreciation Days event in Prairie du Chien.
This is one of the last weekends of the winter season for candlelight events at state properties. On Saturday, the Urban Ecology Center is hosting an Urban Candlelight Hike on the Hank Aaron State Trail in Milwaukee, Rib Mountain State Park is having a candlelight snowshoe hike and Pattison State Park is having a ski/snowshoe/hike as part of its Winterfest, which also includes sledding, bonfire, crafts, refreshments and other activities. For all activities search the DNR website for "Get Outdoors."