July 29, 2012 in Outdoors

Out & About: Turnbull swans endure low water

By The Spokesman-Review
Rich Landers photoBuy this photo

Cygnet-ure arrival: Trumpeter swans are back in a family way at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge this week. This photo shows the female rising above a newly hatched fifth cygnet on Thursday morning as two siblings look on from the nest. Her new mate had been across Middle Pine Lake, but brought two other cygnets hatched this week across the pond to take a look at the new arrival, the last of the five eggs to hatch. The female mated in 2009 with the late Solo, the male trumpeter who faithfully returned to Turnbull for two decades as a widower before finding a breeding female and ending Turnbull’s drought of trumpeter production. Solo and his new mate raised broods in 2009 and 2010. They returned last year, but Solo disappeared before they could mate, ending what biologists estimate was a remarkable 35- to 48-year tenure at the refuge.
(Full-size photo)

OUTLAST – The family of trumpeter swans that hatched in mid-June near the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge headquarters have been short on water this summer, an issue that hasn’t escaped visitors.

Trumpeters have become a cygnet-ure species at the refuge as they’ve resumed nesting in recent years.

Turnbull has received many queries in the past month from refuge fans concerned that low water levels in the visitor-area ponds have reduced the swans’ habitat and made them more vulnerable to predators.

One of this year’s five cygnets has disappeared, probably the victim of a severe thunderstorm, refuge staffers say.

“The swans are in a bit of a pinch because we had a control structure failure in Winslow Pool and the structure in Cheever where they usually nested had to be replaced this year,” said Mike Rule, refuge wildlife biologist. “So they are somewhat trapped in the pond they are in now until fledging.

“The water level has not dropped since hatching. The spring-fed system should maintain levels. Having more room is preferable but they should do fine in Middle Pine Lake.”

Pend Oreille River pike derby planned

OUTCAST – Sign-up is under way for the season’s second Pikepalooza fishing derby on the Pend Oreille River, Friday through next Sunday, sponsored by the Kalispel Tribe.

Prizes up to $1,000 are offered in categories such as most fish, longest fish, total length of catch and smallest fish.

During the first event June 29-July 1, about 80 anglers endured high water and windy conditions to catch 81 northern pike.

Josh Whitney won $1,000 for catching the most northern pike: 14.

Dale Smith won $500 for catching the largest pike: 46.4 inches long.

Preregister online: kalispeltribe.com

Spokane River Fest debuts Saturday

OUTPADDLE – A Spokane River Festival for paddlers is being organized by local kayak, paddle board and rafting groups Saturday, Aug. 11, at Glover Field in Peaceful Valley.

The event offers a chance to see new boats and gear, meet local whitewater enthusiasts, and more.

Hut workers needed at Mount Spokane

PARKS – Friends of Mt. Spokane State Park are constructing a 16- by 24-foot warming hut for snowshoers and backcountry skiers just off the Kit Carson Loop Road.

Helpers are needed. Contact: Cris Currie, 466-9540.

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