Tuesday, July 22, 2014

NWA 7/25/14

A Northwoods Almanac for 7/25 – 8/ /2014  

Fall Migration Already!
            It seems like summer just got here, but on July 20, Callie and I were hiking on Powell Marsh when we were surprised to see and hear three greater yellowlegs, a shorebird that nests in central Canada and southern Alaska.
We shouldn’t have been surprised. Male shorebirds fail mightily any checklist for family values, as do the adult females for that matter, leaving their young to fend for themselves soon after they fledge.
Greater yellowlegs are easily identifiable by their bright yellow legs, upright stance, and their distinctive three-noted call. The call is so loud that its common names include telltale, tattler, and yelper. Arthur Cleveland Bent, in his 1927 book Life Histories of Familiar North American Birds, said that many a yellowlegs was shot “by an angry gunner as a reward for its exasperating loquacity.”
Greater yellowlegs are one of the first shorebirds to arrive on their northern breeding grounds in the very late spring. Those that failed to breed successfully leave their breeding grounds as early as late June, followed by the breeding females and then the males. The juveniles depart last and have to find their own way.
Migratory shorebirds include nearly 40 species of plovers, sandpipers, phalaropes and their relatives, and require specialized wetland habitats such as mudflats, shallow water, and exposed sandbars. Few shorebirds nest in Wisconsin. The majority only make brief pit stops here as they migrate thousands of miles south for the winter.

Roadside “Weeds”
Late July is blooming time for a host of upland flowers that require full sun. Many roadside “weeds” are flowering now, including species like evening primrose, common milkweed, fireweed, daisy, daisy fleabane, cow vetch, common St. Johnswort, white and yellow sweet bush clover, hoary alyssum, heal-all, yarrow, Queen Anne’s lace, goatsbeard, forget-me-nots, common mullein, and spreading dogbane.
As for the term “weed,” UW aquatic botanist Susan Knight taught me years ago that “a weed was a plant without a press agent.” Weeds often are also victims of circumstance, growing in the wrong place at the wrong time – a tomato plant in the rose garden gets pulled as does the rose in the vegetable garden.
Many “weed” species are specialists at growing on disturbed land, in effect being the pioneers of those places and healing them from the abuse they suffered. And most do good work, quickly rooting, holding soil together, and making the way possible for other species to come.
However, over the past 150 years, many of these plants that have taken up residence in Wisconsin are non-natives. Some were brought intentionally, but most were unintended guests that now are here to stay. Of these, most grow in limited numbers and cause little ecological harm. But a growing number of weeds have proven to be especially troublesome, and invasive, by rapidly colonizing natural habitats – woods, prairies, wetlands, and waters – and crowding out native plants.
One plant that has the misnomer of “weed” in its name – fireweed – is a native species that does important work as a healer of poor soils and fire-blackened areas. I point it out in particular because it grows along roadsides and in ditches, and is often mistaken for purple loosestrife, a truly invasive wetland species that needs to be removed wherever and whenever it appears. Count the flower petals to easily note the difference – fireweed has four petals, purple loosestrife has six. Praise the fireweed and pull the loosestrife.

Dragons and Damsels
            The mosquito legions seem to be declining, perhaps due in part to the many hatches of dragonflies that have ensued this summer. We are blessed with dozens of a yellow-gold dragonflies in our yard that I have photographed but am having trouble identifying. I believe it is one of these three: the juvenile white-faced meadowhawk, ruby meadowhawk, or cherry-faced meadowhawk, all of which as adults are bright red, but which as juveniles are yellow. Whatever their ID, they are a very welcome presence in our yard. The river below our house has been in flood since snowmelt, so our floodplains remain inundated, and the mosquitoes have rejoiced. We, in turn, have rejoiced as the dragonflies appeared and began eating those mosquitoes.
            We also have our usual cadre of ebony jewelwing damselflies and river jewelwing damselflies, both of which also eat mosquitoes. These lovely and delicate insects are closely related to dragonflies, but differ in their resting posture – they hold their wings up over their backs while dragonflies hold their wings straight out like fighter planes. They also have separate eyes (most dragonfly have eyes that contact one another), and fly rather weakly, quite unlike the zooming dragonflies that fly with the speed and maneuverability of hummingbirds.

            Many tadpoles are now teeming in many lakes and rivers. One tadpole that is easy to identify is the American toad – they’re the only frog species whose tadpoles school in large, inky masses. Toad tadpoles typically metamorphose in mid-to-late July and leave the water to forage in uplands for a variety of invertebrates like beetles, slugs, caterpillars, and the like, so catch them while you can.
            Bullfrog tadpoles, on the other hand, don’t metamorphose until July and August of their second year, overwintering as tadpoles. The young frogs then take 2 to 3 years to mature, at which point they can then begin breeding.
Green frogs lay their eggs in June and require 70 to 85 days to metamorphose. If the eggs are laid after July 10, however, the tadpoles will overwinter and then transform the following June.
Leopard frogs lay their eggs in mid-to-late May (the female may deposit up to 6,000 eggs!), and they metamorphose in 70 to 100 days. So, they should be leaving the water soon. Richard Vogt, author of Natural History of Amphibians and Reptiles of Wisconsin, writes, “If in late July the grass seems to pop like popcorn as you walk along a marshy pond, the hundreds of small frogs you stir up are usually young leopard frogs.”

Bike Trails!
            The dedication of the Heart of Vilas County Bike Trail System is on Saturday, 7/26, celebrating the completion of the segment from Manitowish Waters to Boulder Junction. Combined with the trails leading from Boulder to Sayner and St. Germain, the total paved trail is now 45 miles in length, and quite scenic. Mary, Callie, and I have been riding the new Manitowish Waters segment and thoroughly enjoying it as it weaves through the woods paralleling Cty. K.
What I really love about these trails are the number of people using them. From very young to very old, and from very fit to perhaps not so fit, folks are out there biking. They’re also walking, pushing baby carriages, roller blading, even pushing wheelchairs. These trails allow folks to safely and comfortably be in the woods without some of the concerns for traffic, ticks, and as many mosquitoes.
            We also recently rode a portion of the new WinMan mountain bike trails near Winchester, ranging from easy to quite challenging. The trails go up and down along the Winegar Moraine, so they offer some topography that we often don’t see.
            And in June, we rode a portion of the Wilderness Lake Trails system from Land O’ Lakes. We were particularly impressed with a newly opened 3.2-mile beautifully forested segment from Thousand Island Lake Rd. to E. Forest Lake Rd. Wow, was it pretty!
            Kudos to everyone who has worked so hard to make these trails happen – they are great assets to our communities. Get out and enjoy!

Sightings – Scarlet Tanagers, Bobwhites, White Fawns, Herons
Audrae Kulas sent me this note: “For the last couple years, we’ve had a male Scarlet Tanager visit, but only for a day. This year on July 13th one came again. Later in the day, we saw two. We’ve had one each day since. Most unusual for us off Cty. B on High Lake Rd. I saw it fly down and pick a daisy petal, fly to a piece of driftwood and eat it. Today he appeared to pick an insect from the driftwood and eat that. It’s the highlight of our day!”
Peter Esche sent me a gorgeous photograph of a northern bobwhite on 7/12. He noted, “We have had a visitor to our lake community here in Presque Isle this year - a Northern Bobwhite. I have no idea how he got here but I imagine he might have escaped from someone who uses them to train hunting dogs. It’s amazing how one single quail can make so much noise. Our neighbors often see him in their yard (they are a quarter mile away), and he likes to call from logs and benches and large rocks in our garden.
            Scott Ewers on Island Lake in Manitowish Waters forwarded me a photo of a brown doe with a white fawn. Given that the gene for albinism is recessive, it’s not uncommon for a brown deer to have a white fawn, as long as the doe mated with a buck which also had the recessive albinism gene.
Jim Swartout sent me photos of a great blue heron eating a red squirrel. He wrote, “My office in our house is on the ground level under a wrap-around deck with five bird feeders on it. Due to the dropped seeds, there is an abundance of chipmunks and squirrels. I now have a great blue heron, which is actively hunting these guys. Yesterday I saw him with a chipmunk, and this morning I saw him chase down and stab a red squirrel. I got the attached pics as he struggled to flip it up and to swallow it head-first, which he accomplished.”  
The La Crosse area experienced a massive mayfly hatch on 7/21 which can be seen on radar on this link: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/images/arx/mayfly/July202014.gif

Celestial Events
The Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower occurs on 7/29-30. This is a minor shower with an ill-defined peak. The shower can be seen several days before and after this date. At best, a peak rate of 20 meteors per hour can be seen. The absence
of moonlight interference will be a plus – best observing is always in the hours after midnight. The downside is that a new moon coinciding with the peak of the Delta Aquarids means it’s pretty much a full moon that accompanies the peak nights of the 2014 Perseid shower on 8/10-13.
Spirit and Nature
            “Like all treasures of the mind, perception can be split into infinitely small fractions without losing its quality. The weeds in a city lot convey the same lesson as the redwoods.” Aldo Leopold, Sand County Almanac

Monday, July 7, 2014

NWA 6/13/14

A Northwoods Almanac for 6/13 – 26, 2014   

White Pelicans!
On 5/25, Elizabeth Stone on Trout Lake saw six white pelicans on Trout Lake.
And on 6/1, Chuck Schlindwein observed 17 white pelicans on Buckskin Lake south of Lac du Flambeau.
            The sighting of white pelicans still draws great surprise from most Wisconsin residents, but white pelicans have been nesting in Wisconsin since 1994, when two pairs were found nesting on Cat Island in the bay of Green Bay. The nests failed, but in 1995, nine pairs nested, with 35 birds present throughout the summer. After that, it was “Katie bar the door.” The year 2013 marked the twentieth consecutive year white pelicans nested on Cat Island, and 1,065 nests were documented on 5/24.
            In 2003, some breeding pelicans from Cat Island spilled over onto nearby Lone Tree Island, and in 2013, 1,088 nesting pairs were documented, more than on Cat Island!
            The pelicans didn’t nest only in Green Bay. They spread south into Horicon Marsh where the first breeding pelicans were documented in 1999. They also began breeding on several dredge spoil islands on Lake Butte des Morts in 2005, on Pancake Island in Lake Puckaway in 2007, on two islands on Lake Winnebago in 2007, and on an island in Beaver Dam Lake in 2011.
            All told in 2013, 4,123 nesting pairs of white pelicans were documented at eight colony sites in Wisconsin.
            What makes this all the more interesting is that no conclusive evidence exists that white pelicans ever nested in the state historically.
            So, where did they come from? And why? These western breeding birds (Minnesota supports some 22,000 breeding pairs) began an eastern expansion two decades ago apparently due to agricultural reclamation of their breeding marshes and water diversion projects, as well as periodic predation events. Also, major colony abandonment occurred for unknown reasons in 2005 at the Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge in North Dakota, the largest breeding colony in North America (over 35,000 pelicans in 2000!), with thousands of pelicans leaving to nest elsewhere.
            Whatever the reasons for their eastern movement, the bottom line is that white pelicans are still steadily increasing in Wisconsin, with colonies expected to expand onto the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River and onto Lake Superior.
            So, for now, our area remains a minor stopover site for white pelicans on their migratory journeys. But soon I expect we’ll be seeing many more of these magnificent birds whose 9-foot wingspans rival those of the California condor.

Other Sightings
5/26: Eastern gray tree frogs began calling in Manitowish.
5/27: Thousands of cottongrass plants flowered in Powell Marsh, making it appear as if it had snowed.
5/27: Cedar waxwings arrived in Manitowish and immediately began eating the flower petals on our plum trees. Waxwings usually are the last of the migrants to arrive in any given spring.
5/28: American elm trees dropped their seeds, an event Mary and I had never taken notice of before. We were sitting on our deck (pre-mosquito hatch!) and a rain of these seeds was coming down from our two elm trees. 
5/29/14: Sharon Drawz saw a moose crossing Hwy. 51, about two miles south of Manitowish.
5/31: Lilacs bloomed in Manitowish.

Yellow Scum!
Nope, this isn’t about your cowardly evil neighbor, but rather this: That yellow film currently so prevalent on the surface of puddles and ponds is the male pollen from pine trees. Pines produce prodigious clouds of pollen that are borne on the wind and often collect wherever there is calm water. The pollen grains are a mere four one-hundred-thousandths of an inch in length, requiring a scanning electron microscope for study. They’re worth studying, too, because they’re virtually indestructible and form “microfossils,” which persist for literally millions of years at the bottom of lakes and ponds. Thus, a pollen specialist (a “palynologist”) can identify the species of trees that once lived in a region by studying their lake sediments, and by doing so, then tease out how regional climates varied over centuries and millennia.
As for the tiny immature female pine cones, their scales are slightly separated and contain a small amount of fluid secreted by the plant. When pollen sifts down between the scales and comes to rest on the fluid, the pollen is then drawn into the cone until it comes into contact with the ovules at the bottom of each cone scale. And voila! The cone is fertilized, and the scales grow thicker until they press together and firmly close the cone. In the case of white pine, the cone eventually grows to eight inches long and opens a year and a half later in the fall, shedding its winged seeds. In jack pines, the cones can remain tightly closed for as many as 20 years or more with the seeds remaining viable, until a fire comes through and the heat induces the cones to open.

Nesting season is here, which often leads to encounters with baby birds and other wildlife. But unless clearly injured or orphaned, a baby wild animal's best chance for survival is with its parents. Wisconsin DNR offers a handy key to determining how to best help a baby bird at: http://1.usa.gov/TB0xK0. The agency also provides a rehabilitation directory and general species guidance at: http://1.usa.gov/1kL0KVg

Celestial Events
Jupiter continues to be visible in the evening night sky. Early in the month it sets about three hours after sunset, but by month’s end, it sets an hour after sunset. Look for the giant planet, shining at a brilliant - 2.0 magnitude, below Castor and Pollux, the twin stars of Gemini. Four of its larger moons should also be easily seen through high-powered binoculars and small telescopes – we use our 20x bird spotting scope.
Mars, shining at magnitude -1.2, is also visible in the evening sky in the constellation Virgo, along with Saturn, which can be found in the constellation Libra low in the southeast. Venus is also still visible low in the eastern sky, but at pre-dawn.  
The full moon occurs on 6/13. It was called the “Full Strawberry Moon” by nearly every Algonquin tribe because of the relatively short harvesting season for strawberries in mid-June. 
The Lyrids Meteor Shower occurs on 6/15, but will be pretty much washed out by the nearly full moon. 

Summer Solstice
June 21 marks the summer solstice and the first “official” day of the summer season.  The sun will reach its highest elevation in the northern hemisphere’s noontime sky, and at this point, it “pauses” before beginning its southward trip, lowering its noontime elevation each day until it reaches its lowest altitude in December at the Winter Solstice.  
The word “solstice” is derived from two Latin words “sol”(sun) and “stitium” (to stop), reflecting the pause in the northward movement at noon. Today generally marks the longest daylight period and shortest night here at the mid-latitudes. 
Many still incorrectly equate our warmer summertime temperatures with our distance from the sun. The truth is our seasonal temperature changes are caused by the earth's axial tilt, not our distance from the sun.  We are actually at our greatest distance from the sun in July, some 3 million miles more distant than in January.

            They, which shall not be named, have reached Biblical proportions. But one of Mary’s friends said, “I don’t care. I’m just so happy to be up here. I’ll just wear a head net or bug dope until their numbers go down.”
Perhaps that’s the attitude we all need to take.              

No One Ever Washed a Rental Car
Harvard’s president, Lawrence Summers, once said, “In the history of the world, no one has ever washed a rented car.”
I’m taken by this statement, because it so clearly shows the need for ownership to help people act with conservation in mind. A person who owns something has a strong incentive to take care of it.
But what happens when there’s no ownership and you’re responsible only for some small aspect of the company you work for, or the property you’re camping on, or the two square feet of the right wing of a plane you helped build? The issue is that only whole planes fly, companies succeed best when everyone buys in, and public lands are treated with the most care when everyone assumes ownership.
The question then is how can people be encouraged to take care of things they don’t actually own? How does one come to a sense of ownership?
It’s worth noting, however, that ownership doesn’t automatically instill care. Sometimes ownership creates a “what’s mine is mine” and cavalier attitude that one can do whatever one wants and no one can say otherwise. Ownership can lead to the attitude that my little piece of the pie is more important the all others, whatever the impact on anyone or anything else.
We’ve got lots of important issues in the Northwoods that require all of us to assume ownership, but an ownership that assumes no privilege over any other owners. We can’t be renters who assume no responsibility, but we also can’t be owners that grab on to their piece and growl.
Whatever the cause, whatever the issue, we’re called upon to honor the whole, all of its parts, and all of its processes. Until then, we’re still just renting the car.

Please share your outdoor sightings and thoughts: call me at 715-476-2828, drop me an e-mail at manitowish@centurytel.net, or snail-mail me at 4245N Hwy. 47, Mercer, WI 54547.

NWA 6/27/14

A Northwoods Almanac for June 27 – July 10, 2014

Deer with Quills
On June 13, Jim Swartout sent me this email: “I encountered an interesting sight yesterday at our property in Minocqua – a doe with a nose full of porcupine quills. She seemed unfazed as she grazed in our meadow. I wonder how long the quills will last, and if there is any way she can get rid of these herself?”
I wrote to Mark Naniot, a very experienced wildlife rehabilitator at Wild Instincts near Rhinelander, and he replied: “A few possibilities on the deer. The quills will keep working their way in and may or may not cause problems. They can abscess and cause further problems or pass all the way through into the mouth. After a few days they do start to soften up in the body and are often just walled off and will stay there. We had one of our dogs that we were still pulling quills out of three months after it happened. Quills do have kind of an antibiotic material so infection is less common but does still happen. We can't say for sure but it will probably be okay in time, but you never know the path the quills will travel.”
On 6/18, Jim dropped me another note, as well as several more photos of the deer, saying the quills were still protruding, but the deer looked unperturbed.
            I’ve often wondered what happens to animals in the wild that have encounters with porcupines. One researcher spent seven years studying porcupines in the Catskill Mountains of New York and discovered that quills are antibiotic as Mark Naniot noted. He was led to this discovery when, attempting to capture a porcupine, a quill was driven deep into his upper forearm and completely beneath the skin. Two days later, after some intense pain, it emerged from his lower forearm completely intact without leaving a trail of infection behind it. He made an extract of the quills, tested it against bacteria, and found it slowed bacterial growth. Interestingly, the researcher believed the antibiotic quality protects the porcupine against itself, in case its own quills are driven into its body from a fall. Porkies do fall from trees when branches break or they slip.
            I’m not sure what will happen with the doe that Jim has been observing, but one certainly hopes she’ll be okay – I’ll keep you informed as I hear more from Jim.

Loon Kills Mallard Chicks
            Mitch Meyer was kayaking on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage last week when he was surprised to witness a loon attack and kill two mallard chicks. The hen mallard and her brood had been swimming calmly in the same area with a pair of loons when suddenly one of the loons dove, came up under one of the chicks, and grabbed it. It proceeded to shake it and kill it, then dove again, grabbed another chick, and killed it. In the meantime, the hen and the other chicks had scattered widely to get away.
            Mitch then watched as one of the chicks that had been separated from the family brood swam as fast as it could right past the loons, apparently thinking its mother had fled in that direction. Mitch figured the chick was a dead duck, as it were, but the loon ignored it. The chick climbed up on a stump and seemed to scan around for the rest of its clan without luck.
            I called Mike Meyer, a DNR research scientist and toxicologist who has conducted extensive decades-long research on loons throughout the Northwoods, for his take, He said that loons commonly “clear out their breeding territory.” He has personally observed loons killing other waterfowl, as have others he’s spoken to, but the frequency with which they do it has never been studied and is thus unknown.
            Mike also noted that loon “floaters” – adult loons seeking to usurp a territory – will kill the young of other loons if they’re vulnerable.
            So, while there’s this “darker” side to loons, it is the nature of all animals to protect their home territory, even if the perceived “protection” seems to us to be excessive.

Turtles Laying Eggs
Since mid-June, Mary and I have observed numerous snapping and painted turtles laying eggs. And we’ve observed numerous turtles smashed as they were crossing roads, a transgression that makes us fume because it’s so easy to avoid hitting the turtles. This quote from David Carroll in his book The Year of the Turtle: A Natural History reflects that lack of respect from humans: “Snapping turtles, the embodiment of turtles who shared the earth with the dinosaurs for a time and are now obliged to share it with the human species, might well report that the former companions were far less stressful.”
Part of the reason for my distress is that snapping turtles, as we know them today, evolved about 40 million years ago. They are the ancestors of about 80% of all the turtles today. That’s pretty astonishing. They represent something extraordinarily old that we ought to venerate, not purposely kill.
They can live a long time, too. The oldest observed age for snapping turtles that I can find in a literature search is over 75 years, while the oldest age based on ring counts is 79 (it’s possible to determine how old a snapping turtle is from the rings on the shell). The older snapping turtles get, the slower they grow, so the biggest individuals could be over 100 years old.                                                                                                                And like most reptiles, snapping turtles lay eggs. Some females have been known to migrate over 8 miles one-way through lakes and rivers to find ideal spots. The mean speed of travel can be up to 1 mile per day, which can mean a long time of exposure out of the water. A strong nesting site fidelity exists, too, so once a female has found a good nesting site, she often remains faithful to it throughout her life.                                                     Not all females nest every year – somewhere between 50 to 75% of the female population returns to a given nesting site in any given year. The embryos in the eggs stop growing soon after fertilization until the eggs are laid, giving the female time to find the ideal spot. The female takes about 1.5 hours to dig the nest chamber and then lays from 22 to 62 one-inch eggs. After laying the eggs, the female will fill the nest hole with sand and leave, but up to 90% of the nests will be destroyed by predators such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, and mink, often that same night.                                                           
On a related note regarding folks capturing turtles, then putting them into pools, using them for races, etc: These are wild animals – they deserve better.

Celestial Events: International Space Station Viewing
Sky maps showing the exact path of the ISS as it crosses the sky are available on the Heavens Above website. www.heavens-above.com.

Sightings – Lark Bunting and Moose Calf                                                                                               Mary, Callie, and I spotted a lark bunting on 6/15 on one of the dikes in Powell Marsh. This is a remarkably lucky sighting given that lark buntings breed in the high plains – the grasslands from southern Alberta down through the Texas Panhandle. Only 31 records of lark buntings have been confirmed in Wisconsin since 1922 – we’re number 32!                                                                                                          
On a much sadder note, a yearling bull moose was killed on 6/13 less than a mile from our home in Manitowish on Hwy. 47. It was hit by vehicle at 10:45 the previous night. The good news is that a pair of moose is breeding in our area! The bad news – they just lost their calf from last year. The silver lining – the cow could be pregnant with a new calf or calves. New calves are typically born from late May to late June, so perhaps there’s another young one or two on the way. If anyone sees an adult moose in our area, please report it to Sam Jonas, the wildlife manager at the Mercer DNR.

Firecrackers and Bird Nesting
            It’s time for my annual admonition regarding firecrackers and bird nesting. The aging curmudgeon in me continues to wonder what joy there is in making the Northwoods sound like a military firing range around July 4th. But separate from that, I simply wish to remind folks that many song birds are either still completing their first nesting, or they are still feeding the nestlings who have fledged, or they’re in the midst of their second nesting. Loud explosions can easily frighten them off their nests or inhibit the feeding of their young.

Role Reversal – Eagles Feeding Humans
Mark Pitman wrote this note to me back in early May: “Symbiotic relationship . . . ‘the relationship between two different kinds of living things that live together and depend on each other.’
“For the past two very difficult winters we have enjoyed feeding eagles on our shoreline of Lake Minocqua.  Each morning at least one and sometimes several are perched in pines along our beach waiting to see what I might deliver onto the ice for their breakfast. I hunt, and my wife, friends and I enjoy the bounty of our harvest. Squirrels, venison and turkey all make great meals for our family and the entrails and trimmings that result from cleaning the game are saved and frozen, then thawed daily for our feathered friends. A successful muskrat trapper has frequently delivered carcasses, which the eagles also enjoy. I frequently pick up a fresh road-kill squirrel or other small critter, which never goes to waste.    
            “The ice has now receded to about 50’ from shore but the ritual continues. The birds sit patiently overhead and allow me to walk directly below them and place the daily rations on a couple of old stumps on the water line. Within seconds they swoop down, grab their ‘prey’ and fly to a nearby perch to enjoy an easy meal. Ornithologists may find fault in this, but the eagles seem to enjoy it, then they are off to do whatever they do for the rest of their days.
            “Like many, I didn’t fish the opener, but thought about a nice meal of fresh walleye. This evening at 7:50, I happened to glance out the window and saw an eagle about 20 feet from shore flapping and struggling to get to one of the ‘feeding stumps’. As I watched through binocs, he made the stump and hoisted out a really nice walleye. My first thought was, ‘how is he successful catching nice fish on the shoreline and not me?’ He began eating near the lower jaw and proceeded to eat all the entrails out of the fish, then proceeded to eat the head, gills and pectoral fins. About 30 minutes later, with darkness approaching he hopped into the water and dunked his head a few times, then flew off to roost across the lake.
“Not wanting to leave those nice filets, and now reversing our roles, I ran right over to the feeding log, picked up the remains, and brought to the cutting board the perfect 19” be-headed walleye. I filleted it out, then returned the spine and tail (and some meat since I’m not a very good fish cleaner) to the stump, along with a muskrat carcass. Tomorrow night my wife and I will dine on fresh walleye, overlooking Lake Minocqua and be grateful for the bounty around us. Symbiotic relationship? Perhaps.”
Please share your outdoor sightings and thoughts: call me at 715-476-2828, drop me an e-mail at manitowish@centurytel.net, or snail-mail me at 4245N Hwy. 47, Mercer, WI 54547.