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Yesterday morning at the breakfast table I could hear a Dusky Grouse making his booming noise to attract a mate. It is not unusual to hear them this time of year in the draw or up on the hill above us but yesterday it was really close to the house. I had to go see where it was. It was in the backyard, strutting between Sky’s agility equipment. There was a female picking at the weed seeds in our rather dilapidated lawn. Our lawn is more habitat than turf. The birds and bees like it.

The male grouse puffed up and showed his air sacs and made his noise and walked toward the sliding glass door where I was making photos. I think he may have seen his reflection and was getting a little bit defensive thinking there was another male in his territory. Then he turned his attention towards the female who remained mostly disinterested.

The hillsides are really drying out quickly this year. Mud season usually seems to last weeks but this year it has been short. My favorite vernal pond isn’t a pond. I’ve seen salamanders and spadefoot toads there some years. I wonder how long they can stay dormant underground til the water returns?

Dry hillsides make for good hiking so the girls and I are enjoying it while we can. It won’t be long til we will be able to get up into the mountains!

The girls and I enjoyed a good hike in the hills on Saturday.

As the days grow warmer, new birds migrate to the nesting areas and begin setting up their territories, declaring them from tree tops, fence posts and signs. During yesterday’s early morning walk, I heard bluebirds, sparrows, finches and meadowlarks. Owls wake us up at night with their hooting. There is so much to see and hear!

Here is the song of the Western Meadowlark from the Cornell website.

This time of year it is difficult to find good walking places. They are either covered in soft, unpredictable snow, or slush and mud, or just plain mud. The girls really like a little variety in their lives so I do try to get them out and about to various places. This morning we visited a small piece of public land on the river. It was a mix of soft and hard packed snow, very wet slush and occasionally wet ground. They were ecstatic. And Sky found sticks. Lots of sticks. What more could she want? Luna found smells. Lots of good stinky smells. It was a perfect dog walk.

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