Mosquitoes anyone?

I have heard it said that birding at the refuge in August is “for the birds!”  Well, nobody told the birds that, for things are still “poppin” when it comes to bird sightings and it will only get better as Fall Migration begins!

If it’s been awhile since you visited the refuge, on your next visit you will notice that, as always, “things just aren’t as they used to be.”  One of the biggest changes you will see is that many of the lakes and ponds that were there during the winter months have “filled in.”  The water level has gone down and where there was once water, there are now only grasses.  As some of the larger lakes fill in, mud flats are beginning to form along the edges and high spots of the lake.  This mud, which is the home for many small invertebrates, is just the meal ticket for many of the shorebirds that are beginning to be seen at the refuge.  Keep an eye out for some of the unusual ones that show up every year.

Probably another change you might notice (or can’t help but notice) is the unwelcome presence of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are a fact of life in the northwest.  Perhaps you can find some small comfort knowing that only half of the mosquito population is after your blood—it’s only the females that bite you. The problem is that the males only last for a couple of days after mating and the females live for a number of weeks.  It appears as if the females need human blood to develop fertile eggs, so when you contribute a little blood, you are helping to propagate the species. (And here you said that you didn’t like mosquitoes!)

The best defense for mosquitoes is a good offense.  Repellent containing DEET does work, probably better than anything else. There are a lot of other products on the market, but studies have shown none of them are as effective as repellents with DEET.   In general, mosquito repellent works by masking the chemical cues that beckon mosquitoes to dinner. The chemical cues that we naturally exude which seem to hang a welcome sign about our necks are Carbon Dioxide and Lactic Acid.  Of course besides sensing the cues, they can zero in on body temperature and also movement.  Doesn’t leave us much of a chance, does it?

Some of the unusual sightings we have had this past month are an out-of-season Bufflehead, Rufous and Anna’s Hummingbirds, the Orange-crowned, Wilson’s and Yellow Warblers (while seen readily at the beginning of the month are getting harder to find at the end), Pine Siskin, Bank Swallow, Lesser Yellowlegs, & Dark-eyed Junco.

Come and visit the refuge this summer and while you are at it, get one of the free, NEW, Discovery Trail Audio Tour CDs at the Visitor Kiosk.  This one is just for the spring and summer months.  Learn something new about the refuge.

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