Panfish, bass and northern pike continue to be the dominant fish species taken on local rivers and lakes in the Coulee Region this week. "Junior" Muetze and I have done very well in the last couple of weeks. However, no catfish yet. We're heading onto the water on Friday to see if we can catch some more panfish for a Friday night fish fry. Fish are twice as tasty when they're fresh. Besides, it's much cheaper than going out for fish. I drove down to the boathouse on Thursday, closed my eyes and listened to the bald eagles whistling back and forth to each other across the slough. One swooped down and scooped up a fish for a meal. Meanwhile, it appears there are plenty of deer for hunters again this fall. I'm not the only one seeing plenty of nice-sized bucks. I have talked with quite a few other hunters who are chomping at the bit to kick off the season. Several are reporting some very big bucks on their trail cams... a few large antlered ol' boys. I know there are turkeys, too, after seeing several hens with poults earlier this summer. However, they must be sticking to deep forest cover to avoid the hot sun beating down on alfalfa fields. Until we meet, have a great day outdoors.
From Southern Wisconsin
It is more complex why bees buzz than the proverb about honey and nectar. Prairie partridge pea flowers fall into the buzz pollination type. Flowers that release pollen in response to sound coming from pollen vectors, in this case various bumblebees. There is no nectar in this flower to attract, and pay pollinators and generally bees are pollen collectors, not nectar eaters in the butterfly and hummingbird categories. This common dry prairie plant appears along Mississippi, Wisconsin and St. Croix rivers lowlands. Its foliage is sensitive to touch, collapsing for a time as well as “sleeping” at night. Partridge pea, while not a legume and unrelated to various pea species, is sometimes placed in seed mixtures for pollinator species plantings. Why an annual, which partridge pea is? Most prairie plants are perennials. Maybe USDA botanists stick it in to give those who plant pollinator species plots something that will flower three months after planting the first year. Or maybe it can grow like a forest spring ephemeral does and goes seed-to-seed before the tall grasses and forbs take over in summer. With all the angst over milk terms, botanists seem to have no problem using it as a verb and saying, “large bees milk the partridge pea anthers through vibration, causing release of pollen clouds through terminal pores in anthers.” If ever there was a time to watch ruby-throated hummingbirds in natural settings, it is now. Hang around cardinal flowers, but make it 6 a.m., or earlier. Apparently, hummingbirds are early risers, very hungry after a night without sugar, or the cardinal flower of lowland areas releases its nectar, and pollen, as the sun comes up. Young male hummers have still not learned garages are for trucks and cars and few flowers bloom here. Horseflies are not known as good pollinators, but they and comparatively half-pint deer flies are tormenting horses, of course, and deer, but not humans so much. Horse riders and caregivers have come to use masks that cover the horses’ faces and ears to add some protection. These inch-and-a-quarter flies have been known to kill large animals by removing blood. Turkey hunters, berry pickers and general outdoors types aren’t stupid when they cover their own faces with hunting masks and nets. It works. Grouse sampling kits, 400 of them to check for West Nile Virus, can be requested from county wildlife biologists. Each kit provides what hunters need to sample a single grouse shot or found dead. A small amount of blood and the bird’s heart are collected and returned to the DNR. The bird’s meat can be retained by the hunter. Bonus antlerless harvest authorizations (bonus tags) are on sale. After Wednesday, BAHAs for all zones will be available at one per person per day until sold out. Cost is $12, $20 and $5 for residents, nonresidents and youth 11 and younger, respectively. A ginseng research project has begun using field cameras, which monitor individual plant’s phenology until the plant goes senescent. This project is being conducted by the DNR and is being done on private property, with landowners’ knowledge and permission. Prior to emergence next spring, more cameras will be set to monitor all events throughout the growing months. Mike Starshak, of the Wisconsin Hickory Association, predicts that gathering shagbark hickory nuts is likely to be slim throughout the natural range of the tree. In addition to nuts for numerous uses, hickory trees are used for lumber, firewood, making syrup, shade trees and a host of lesser endeavors. We’re losing those Native American and settler hickory traditions.Hickory trees usually have good production years every other year, with bonanza years about every 10 years, like 2017, which was one of the best in many decades. Wisconsin has two native hickories, shagbark and yellowbud (bitternut), with shellbark hickories found in select locations along the Illinois border. Hickories are wind pollinated and hybridize occasionally, which leads to variation in nut size and taste. Starshak describes yellowbud nuts as nearly inedible by most animals, including humans. Deer coat colors, antlers and fawns spots continue to change weekly. Velvet shedding is likely to begin within two weeks and be complete by the season opener, Sept. 15. Autumn’s gold is taking over many fields, roadsides and pastures, with goldenrod being most prominent. These insect-pollinated plants have heavy, sticky pollen, which doesn’t blow up our noses. Yellowing is one of many color and texture changes we are unlikely to miss.
BUCKHORN STATE PARK - Visitors have been hiking, boating and fishing. Canoes, kayaks and bikes are available to rent. There are only a few mosquitoes at times with the hotter weather. Beaches are open in the park. There is starting to be some algae in the lake at times, but it does move around because of the rivers, so if a beach is green at one time of day it will clear out later. There is a dog beach on Water St., west of the Buckhorn bridge. Park visitors will see and hear increased aircraft activity through Aug. 24, as the Northern Lightning exercise is underway at nearby Volk Field in Camp Douglas. Air activity mainly will be between 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to Heather Wolf, park manager.
ROCHE-A-CRI STATE PARK - Visitors have been hiking, checking out the petroglyphs and seeing turkey vultures circling the mound. Adams County may have increased airspace activity between 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. through Aug. 24, due to the Northern Lightning exercise underway at Volk Field in Camp Douglas, said Wolf.
Karen Perry from Wild Birds Unlimited
Ah, August already and that means our spring friends will be leaving. Orioles will start to move out the end of the month and into September. I have not heard a house wren in some time, so I'm assuming they have migrated out. Warblers will be heading south this month as well. Keep food fresh and make sure to keep nectar and jelly out so that migrating birds can find food when needed. Always water and with these hot humid days, please make sure you are changing that water daily if not twice a day. It gets pretty nasty with the heat. We still have our "Hot Pepper" treats on sale, so if you have trouble with critters getting the food you put out such as suet dough, suet bits and or seed cylinders we carry all of those with hot pepper. It does not hurt the birds at all, but the critters sure don't like it. Stay cool, enjoy your birds. Karen Perry, Wild Birds Unlimited, 608-781-5088.
Around the Badger State
It was a relatively dry week across most of the state with warm temperatures making outdoor recreation pleasant. Water levels remain at seasonal norms on most rivers and canoeist and kayakers have been out in force. Central Wisconsin trout streams are getting pretty low right now and could use some rain. Work continues at Pattison and Amnicon state parks to repair damage from the June flood event. Crews are adding rock and gravel to washout areas, as well as replacing bridges, and almost 300 cubic yards of sand was added to the Little Falls Lake beach to replace what was lost from the flood, but the beach remains closed while the lake is drawn down to repair the dam. Walleye fishing also continues to be good on the west and east shores of Green Bay with parking lots filled at Geano Beach and Suamico over the weekend, and anglers averaging two to seven fish with a few boats catching their limit. Many reported catching numerous freshwater drum, catfish and an occasional northern pike. Yellow perch fishing is slowly starting to pick up with a few anglers catching 10 perch for a few hours out. Smallmouth action has been good along Door County, with all the piers and harbors from the Sturgeon Bay hipping canal north to Gills Rock producing good numbers of bass. Consistent success on large yellow perch as well was had in the shipping canal. Out past the canal, folks were coming back with chinook in 150-200 feet of water. On Lake Michigan, fishing pressure was heavy for the majority of the week out of Kewaunee and was picking up at Manitowoc. Anglers were catching rainbow trout and king salmon along with lake trout and brown trout. There was heavy fishing pressure this weekend at Algoma due to a weekend festival and folks were coming back with large rainbows and kings along with a few lake and brown trout. Good numbers of lake trout were caught out of Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha with the occasional rainbow, brown, and chinook. Canada Geese are now starting to fly around and are frequenting the harvested grain fields. Wild turkey poults are being seen frequently along the road edges and fields. Fall bonus wild turkey harvest authorizations will go on sale Aug. 18, beginning at 10 a.m. Check for turkey permit availability on the DNR website. Prairie flowers are in full bloom. Keep your eyes open for prairie blazing star, stiff goldenrod, rattlesnake master and many more. The Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery will host a seminar this Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m., with presentations on lake sturgeon and on how the hatchery is helping return this ancient species to its home waters. And if you're heading up to the Lake Superior this weekend grab your shovels, buckets and creativity and visit Madeline Island for a fun-filled day Saturday for Big Bay State Park's 24th Annual Sand Castle Day. Contest registration is free and prizes will be awarded for the best sand structures. For all events search the DNR website for "Get Outdoors."
Wisconsin Birding Report
Ready or not, migration is here! While many shorebirds have been on the move since late June and some land birds since late July, mid-August means that migration is underway in earnest for many species. Warbler migration has really picked up, especially across the north, with good numbers of Nashville and Tennessee warblers, yellow warblers and American redstarts, the first bay-breasted warblers and at least a dozen other species. Other favorites like rose-breasted grosbeaks, Baltimore orioles and indigo buntings have also begun to head south, particularly the showy adult males who depart first. Likewise, although hummingbird numbers have burgeoned with fledged young of the year, the highly-territorial adult males will vacate our northern climes any time now. Other migrants now include various flycatchers, bobolinks and the first common nighthawks of the fall. Swallows and chimney swifts may be seen gathering in large groups across the south, with a good number having already departed the far north. Learn more about many of these declining aerial insectivores and how you can help at an upcoming conference in Waukesha, Sept 6-8 at https://dnr.wi.gov/news/Weekly/article/?id=4342. Shorebird migration is near its seasonal peak where appropriate habitat exists. Without question Horicon National Wildlife Refuge off Highway 49 has been the hotspot, featuring hundreds of birds of many species, including uncommon finds such as black-necked stilt, American avocet, white-rumped sandpiper and American golden-plovers. None were rarer, however, than the sharp-tailed sandpiper found there on Aug. 8, and continuing through at least the 15th, marking the first known observation of this eastern Asian species in Wisconsin. Despite all the migration buzz, nesting season isn't quite over yet! Family groups can still be seen for a variety of summer breeders, like American redstart, red-eyed vireo, barn swallow, song sparrow, eastern phoebe, wood duck, wild turkey and others. Notoriously late nesters such as American goldfinch, cedar waxwing, mourning dove, and northern cardinal may also be in the earlier stages of first or second nesting attempts. Nesting or not, now is a great time to get those suet, seed, and hummingbird feeders going again if you let them lapse a bit over summer, and to offer a water source for bathing and drinking birds. As always, find out what others are seeing and report your observations at www.ebird.org/wi. Good birding!
SOURCE: Ryan Brady, NHC conservation biologist in Ashland