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Spring is here and changing weather brings out the critters

Living the Wild Life

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Spring has sprung and my indoor and outdoor thermometer told me that the coolness of the house equaled the outdoor warmth, a comfortable 69 degrees so I went out to the garden to plant a row of peas.

“What are you writing about this week?” my neighbor asked.

“Probably spawning fish.” I lied – not because I wanted to, but because I did not get calls back from the experts I had left messages for some data.

That was earlier in the week and on Thursday, my wife and I was invited by another couple to visit nearby areas to do some “birding.” As we traveled from Rexburg to Camas National Wildlife Refuge and then to Market Lake Wildlife Management Area and back home; I realized all the changes that are happening right now. I spent Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the great outdoors with some memorable people, ticks and other bugs, birds, turtles, other animals, rocks and roots.

Spring is bird time. It is the time for birds and small animals to chase each other around and be very silly at times. It is the time for breeding, killing and eating the less fortunate; it is the time for real life to happen whether we like it or not.

Most of the large migrations have moved on and our summer residents are moving in. The turtles have come out of hibernation and are soaking up as much sun as they can find. Some of the Great-horned owls and a few Canadian honkers have hatched their little ones and the Northern Harriers, Swainson’s, Red-tailed and Ferruginous hawks are trolling for a feathered veal meal.

The bears are lurking about digging up ground squirrels, feasting on dandelions and hoping that the elk, bison and deer will soon be dropping their young ones so they can get a real veal meal.

Most of the songbirds and shorebirds are not here yet, but they are starting to trickle in adding to the 67 species of birds we encountered Thursday. The Yellow-rumped warblers and Ruby-crowned kinglets have showed up at Market Lake and can be found harvesting the honey bees as they try to harvest pollen to make honey.

This week I encountered my first mosquito that was so large I thought it was a Great blue heron attacking me and it sounded like a misguided chainsaw heading toward me. The biting flying insects will probably not be a great worry for a couple of weeks but now is the time for the ticks and they are out in great numbers.

Wednesday morning I and two friends slipped away from civilization to the high sagebrush plains and foothills to hound some rocks. Oh, we found some beauties, but we also found ticks.

“Did you guy spray for ticks?” I asked.

“Nope.”

“Nope, they can’t be that bad.”

When we got back to the vehicles after a couple mile hike, one of us had 12 ticks on him; five of them under his collar looking at his neck like it was a Putin/Kim Jung Un summit dinner. Some of you may think you are tough enough to withstand the bite of a little tick, but ask a tough guy who has experienced Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever and you may change your mind.

When headed for a tour through tall grassy or sagebrush areas I spray my clothes with something containing Picaridin and on my skin I will use a spray that contain at least 25 per cent Deet. Always follow directions when applying insect repellant. As one put it; “the spray may be worse than the bite.” It is up to you to decide

I am going to enjoy the warmth of the weather and the changing of the world around us. Hopefully, I will do it safely and I also hope that you will too. Fishing reports will be coming before the rivers clear up and go down, and the water warms in the lakes to hopefully improve our fishing success.

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