OK, it's spring and there's a lot to like about these springtime early mornings. I'm sipping hot coffee and watching impatient robins hopping about the frosty yard searching out a daybreak meal. Sure, the early bird gets the worm and I'm no expert but my guess is the worms will stay tucked a little deep until the sun knocks the frost from the grass. Still, the robins sing a happy song and seem confident breakfast is on the way. The winter birds have left, though there's always a few resident chickadees around. A flock of juncos are busy under the feeder and a few purple finches stopped by this morning.
We're enjoying a normal spring this year and it's a welcome change from last year when it felt like winter lasted right up to summer. Bright colored mallards sit in water filled ditches and beautiful wood ducks are checking brushy streams and backwoods ponds. Grouse are drumming all day long and it's hard to stay indoors in such inviting weather.
Gabby has been finding grouse and woodcock in good cover daily. I like spring training – it's like October hunting but there's nobody else out there and I don't have to fret over my poor shooting.
Folks who hunt and train bird dogs live for this kind of spring. Like the trout fisherman who watches the stream open up and settle after the snow-melt, bird dog folks see the snow disappear from favorite covers and turn dogs loose to find returning woodcock and surviving grouse. If there's something better for a young bird dog than spring exposure to wild birds I don't know what it is.
Pencil popple, dog hair aspen – call it what you will – it stirs the soul with a promise of birds after a long winter, and if those thickets go unnoticed by most, all the better. The best of it won't last long so we enjoy it while we can. The grouse and woodcock will be nesting soon, and we'll leave them alone then. But stream trout season opened yesterday, so things should be fine.