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Gary Engberg/For Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com

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After one of the coldest and longest lasting winters in the last few decades, it finally looks like spring is finally here. We’ve had a few warm days in April and May, but there have been no prolonged periods of spring-like weather. After a nice day or two, we go back to below normal temperatures, rain and wind. Everything that you can think of associated with spring has been delayed at least a week or two with cold nights and rainy days.

This past weekend was one of the nicest of the year and the rain that we had earlier in the week finally got nature going. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time the last two months in the outdoors watching and photographing migrating birds, animals awakening from the cold of winter, turkeys flocked together and then breaking up to mate and the greening of the trees and vegetation in my own yard and the surrounding countryside.

Farmers have waited for weeks to get in their fields to disc or plant crops.

Fishermen have had an up and down spring with high water in the Wisconsin River and surrounding waters with tough spring fishing conditions. The fish haven't had conditions conducive to their spring spawning rituals. The few nice days brings the fish into shallow water, but it seems that just when the weather is going to stabilize, it cools again and another front comes through the area pushing fish back into deeper water.

Finally, flowers are blooming and the trees are getting their leaves and buds.

I went out Sunday for a walk with Katie the lab in the Mazomanie and Blackhawk Public Hunting Grounds and in just a few days the trees, grasses and vegetation had come alive in many different shades of green. It was just last week that the overnight lows were still in the 30s and much of the surrounding area looked more like November than May.

But, then it finally happened!

With some good rain, the daytime temperatures pushed 70 degrees and the sun shined. This was what we needed for spring to really show its colors. Tulips and daffodils are blooming, lilacs and honeysuckle are beginning to flower and most trees are opening their leaves after a winter that I would rather forget.

More on birding: Birding news from around the state | Browse birding photos | Share your shots

On Sunday's walk, you could smell spring in the air with the world of nature coming alive even though it was a couple of weeks behind schedule it felt wonderful to be in the awakening world of nature. There are areas in the Mazomanie Marsh that the DNR burned off weeks ago that are now a bright emerald green. The trees on Blackhawk Ridge that were colorless a few days ago are now a lush green. What a difference a few days can make under the right conditions.

The prized morel mushrooms are finally popping up with people scurrying around every elm tree they can find looking for that 'pot of gold' under the right tree. The hills and countryside are alive with nature finally coming alive!

Sauk Prairie is a Wisconsin Bird Town and a week ago there was a Birdathon with numerous teams going out in the surrounding area and seeing how many different species of birds they could see. The five local teams counted 120 different bird species and raised $561.

I counted birds at my riverfront home and the surrounding state land. My partner Quilla Pine and I counted over 40 species of birds in our area. It’s amazing the number of bird species that stop here on their migrations north and those that stay for the summer. Some of the least known birds that were seen and counted included green herons, greater yellowlegs, ring-billed gulls, black-billed cuckoos, pileated woodpeckers, olive-sided flycatchers, blue-headed vireos, red-breasted nuthatches, Northern water thrushs, blue-winged warblers, Cape May warblers and a scarlet tanager.

The birds that are summer residents like goldfinches, Baltimore orioles, red-breasted grosbeaks, ruby-throated hummingbirds, indigo buntings and red-winged blackbirds are also back in good numbers.

Last week, I had hundreds of goldfinches in my yard looking like dandelions on my lawn. The rose-breasted grosbeaks are also here in numbers and for the first time I have wood ducks nesting in a hole made by lightening in a maple tree. It’s a wonderful time to get in the outdoors and see and listen to the birds, the emerging vegetation, and the colors of spring.

This is also a time to be careful while driving because soon does will be having their fawns. Does leave their fawns for extended periods of time, so leave them alone if you find one because they don’t have any scent to protect them from predators.

Turtles will soon make nests and begin crawling across highways, so slow down or help them cross the road.

Geese and ducks are having their broods and turkeys are sitting on their nests as a new year begins.

This should be a good week for crappie fishing with a forecast of stable and warm weather. All fish species should be active as the water warms and nature’s world comes alive.

Try to take advantage of this wonderful time of the year and the wonders of nature come alive. Take a walk with you family, friends, or dog and take in this magnificent time of the year. I guarantee you’ll have a great time. You don’t have to go far to see the world come alive after a winter that we’ll never forget.

Browse more photos of birds in Wisconsin:

Browse sandhill crane, prairie chicken, pelican, loon, goose, eagle, whooping crane, heron, turkey, cardinal, hummingbird and other bird photos.

Gary Engberg is a professional tournament angler, fishing guide, and writer. He began fishing tournaments in the early 1990’s and has fished the In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail (PWT), North American Walleye Association (NAWA), Masters Walleye Circuit (MWC), World Walleye Association (WWA), FLW, and Mercury Nationals in the years since. Gary has hosted the Outdoor Horizons radio show weekly for 14 years in Madison on WTDY 1670 AM and WTDY 106.7 FM Saturdays at 8:05 am. and is also a correspondent for the Wisconsin State Journal for the last 12 years. Visit http://www.garyengbergoutdoors.com for more from Gary Engberg.

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