Summer starts

It’s finally summer and it actually feels like it. I even managed to catch a few rays and start a tan for the first time in a few years.

It was a long, long winter. Snow arrived in late October and didn’t melt until the end of April. But it has finally warmed up nicely and best of all, there’s been just enough rain to keep the veg growing well while not giving the mosquitoes a leg up. Even deer flies are tolerable this year – I suspect the great hatch of dragonflies is helping on that front. Wood ticks were terrible, though. When doing our elk monitoring (critter cams) I had to literally brush of hundreds at times. Sometimes there were also deer ticks in the mix, which potentially carry Lyme disease.  Can’t stand ticks . . .

From a wildlife perspective, it’s been an interesting past several weeks. For the first time, there was a yellow-headed blackbird in the yard. It only stayed for an hour or so; then was gone. There’s a black-billed cuckoo that makes the rounds around the pond almost every morning – we hear it, but haven’t seen it. A pair of pied-bill grebes nested on the pond – also a first – and hatched out young. Yesterday there were five of them, down one, I think. A hooded merganser showed up with nine young followed by a wood duck with ten ducklings. Still waiting to see whether there’s a hatch of mallards and green-winged teal.

There are at least a few ruffed grouse hens with broods along the road with young (so far, they have not been run over by vehicles, but I fear it’s only a matter of time) and there was a woodcock that was also acting broody and also on the road. The tree swallows are busy feeding their young in the boxes we put up and an eastern phoebe has young in her nest under the eaves of our old cabin. Lots of other birds around, too.

The painted turtles have been laying eggs in front of the house, but the skunks come at night and have been digging up the nests; we hope some will survive.

The pair of Canada geese that nested on the beaver house hatched out five but tragedy struck – not sure exactly what happened – suffice to say all five goslings perished.  After a couple of days, the adults left. So for the second year in a row, the geese are gone.

I have seen one new-born fawn whitetail. Lots of bears in the neighborhood, including some big ones; and there are still wolves around.  Not sure what happened to the beavers. Three survived the winter, but for the last couple of weeks we have only been seeing one, and only sporadically. Maybe the wolves/bears got the other two.

Saw a porcupine one day while coming home from work (a rarity in these parts). Don’t need or want porcupines nearby. Neva, our dog, has not learned to keep away from them.

When the ice was melting, a very pregnant otter was lolling about for a couple of days. Since then, we’ve only seen her once. Not sure where she is . .  .

The pond is teeming with minnows and hordes of tiny tadpoles are rapidly forming into frogs (most of the ones I’ve seen appear to be wood frogs). The cacophony each evening of singing frogs has been deafening.

Finally, it looks like it might be a good year for at least some of the wild berries. Choke cherries, pin cherries, service (Saskatoon) berries and blueberries are some that are right now looking promising. Yum.

So, I’m ready for the heat to continue and hoping the lazy, hazy days of summer will linger for several weeks. Much, much better than the dreary days of winter where the only life seen is often, at best, a few birds at the feeder.

Yep, time to enjoy country living and not dwell too much on the shenanigans being foisted on us daily by politicians and masses of do-gooders (often the same people).

And do a bit of fishing, which, by the way, has been mostly pretty good.

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