Monday, May 26, 2014

Drumming Grouse


Every spring I wonder how the grouse are doing. The winter weather is seldom a worry, but this past one was tough. Long stretches went with temperatures daily below zero. Usually abundant snow keeps the ruffed grouse from freezing, when they do their snow roosting thing, but where we hunt the snow came late.
The spring is what worries me. Cold wet weather raises havoc with the young broods, so every year I keep my fingers crossed. I pay more attention to what the weather does at our Camp Grouse than I do at our home.
Where's the warblers?
A week ago we opened up Camp Grouse, turning on the water and cleaning up all the dead bugs that materialize every winter. The leaves on the trees weren’t as big as mouse ears and the notorious black flies hadn’t materialized yet. On a few shady north-facing slopes small patches of snow hid in the shadows.
Up the hill from the house I heard grouse drumming several times. Below the house our dogs bumped a woodcock along the stream. The warblers flitted about the trees, staking out their summer turf and amazing us with their colors. And several places we hiked the drummers serenaded us.
So I’m optimistic, yet I don’t put too much stock in spring drumming counts, even though there were more grouse drumming this spring than either of the two previous ones. Two years ago I heard absolutely none, and it turned out to be the best season of my life. Last year I heard almost none, and the season was above average.
So we’ll wait and see, and hope this season is a good one. I think it has more to do with the weather the next few weeks than how many grouse I heard drumming.

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