April calendar veers toward spring

Northwoods Notebook

A great blue heron, right, shares the spotlight with a deer in a trail camera photo at Six Mile Lake. (Betsy Bloom/Daily News photos)

While a late season snow still is not out of the realm of possibility, it feels as if spring finally has turned the corner.

The warmth due this weekend — the region could flirt with 70 today — might very well vanquish the ice that remains on most area lakes. The Chapin Pit in Iron Mountain already has more liquid than frozen water.

The first bear reports have come in, along with photos. They’ll be hungry and looking for easy food sources.

But it’s tough to tell people to take down those feeders when bird migration seems ready to hit full steam. This week saw the first northern flickers, patrolling the now bare ground like robins. The robins, too, look less desperate than a weekend ago, now that almost all the late snow finally having released its grip.

Fox and song sparrows made an appearance under the feeders at Six Mile Lake as well.

A northern flicker pauses during a search for spring grub.

And one of the backyard deer taking a selfie on the trail camera turned up an unexpected great blue heron photobombing in the background that even appears to have speared a fish.

Next on the list should be Eastern phoebes, yellow-rumped warblers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers — watch for them tapping maple trees — and rusty blackbirds. Osprey and common loons probably are not far behind, just waiting for sufficient water to open up.

Can the first calls of spring peepers be far away?

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Another sign of the season is calls about grass fires. The sun and wind on the now-exposed dead vegetation from last year means conditions will be right for sparks from burning debris or a tossed cigaret to easily catch hold and spread. Best to check with the applicable DNR to see what’s allowed for burning and the level of fire danger. The Michigan DNR has an online map, updated at 10 a.m. Eastern time daily, with information about burning requirements and restrictions, if any, at http://www.dnr.state.mi.us/burnpermits/. In Wisconsin, call 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876) or search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword “fire.”

Betsy Bloom can be reached at 906-774-2772, ext. 40, or bbloom@ironmountaindailynews.com.

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