Spring has sprung but it’s still a bouncy ride

The weather last week has reminded us that winter is not quite over. This is very much the “tweener” period for outdoor pursuits. Looks kind of like spring but it was 5 degrees in parts of the state early this week. Astronomical spring officially arrived Monday with the vernal equinox.

Most of the state received at least some snow, with heavier amounts falling in central and southeastern parts of the state. The Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest received enough to groom ski trails but they are not expected to last long with a warm up and rain in the forecast.

A few Northwoods lakes still had fishermen out fishing for crappies last weekend but safety is questionable on what ice remains and many landings have open water. Recent cold weather brought some ice back to some lakes in southern Wisconsin; however, not enough to safely venture out on. from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway still has high flows but they have come down substantially. Anglers are flipping the switch from ice-fishing to open water fishing and many are fishing from the shores of the lower stretches of rivers but with little success as fish runs are still on hold.

Anglers were catching steelhead in the Milwaukee River and brown trout in the harbor before the snowstorm. Some brown trout were caught near Jones Island or trolling near the Harbor Gaps, where some also reported catching lake trout.

The cold temperatures last week left a hard crust on the remaining snow and firmed up some previously soft ground, enabling folks to explore just about anywhere and hunt for deer sheds. Some bucks are still being seen with antlers hanging on, but the majority have shed.

Snowshoe hare coats are beginning to turn brown, river otters are giving birth, grouse have started drumming and the turkeys started strutting.

Just like clockwork, numerous bird species that are short distance migrants recently arrived back in southwestern Wisconsin. Red-winged blackbirds, grackles, and robins have arrived in droves, while lesser numbers of killdeer, song sparrows, bluebirds, and eastern meadowlarks have filled in the gaps.

Migrating waterfowl have been moving through southeastern Wisconsin. The Bong Recreation Area has a had a wide variety of waterfowl stopping on the property including mallard, pintail, widgeon, ring-neck, redhead, canvasback, scaup, hooded merganser, wood duck, golden eye, shoveler, tundra swan, Canada geese, and trumpeter swan. Six trumpeter swans have stopped on the property in the last month and two have remained for the last three weeks.

Maple sugarers were collecting sap last week but due to the fluctuating temperatures it has been on and off again. With a warm-up in the forecast the sap run may be in full swing again. A cool phenomenon this time of year is maple sap icicle. These can be located on maple trees that have been damaged and the sap freezes at it leaves the tree.

Pussy willows have begun budding. Hazelnut will be blooming soon, and the silver maples and willows will start to flower also.

Now is a good time to do invasives control work on woody species like buckthorn, honeysuckle, or even large oriental bittersweet. Cutting the stems and immediately treating the cut surface with an appropriate chemical is very effective.


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