My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Snow Shall Not Stop the Egg Tendors

Saturday, May 16

Following the milking of the eggs and milt from grayling yesterday, the fish guys set up this year's nursery early this morning.  It is at Elk Springs where we have the purest water and consists of two sets of 5 linked 5 gallon buckets, connected with piping so the spring water can wash over the eggs and give them maximum oxygen.

Now someone has to visit every day and remove the dead eggs, which appear as little white dots. If this is not done, a fungus will start to grow on the dead eggs and, eventually get rampant enough to kill off the living eggs.

So for about three weeks, Dick, and sometimes I will be doing this job.

Today we woke to completely unexpected snow. The only concession Dick made to the weather, was to change to a 4-wheel drive truck. We headed out a little early, because we were supposed to meet the fish guys.  But they had been working since a little after 6:00 A. M. and were just leaving as we arrived. They were sure Dick knew what to do, since he had performed this task last year.

A few minutes later we were at the end of the road and the beginning of the hiking trail. We have to walk for just a few minutes to reach the fish hatchery.

Volunteer Dick, ready to leave

But I made him take a picture of me first

View at the end of the road

Dick trudging through about 5 inches of snow - note HE is in waders

"You aren't wearing boots, are you?"  "No but I have on 2 pairs of wool socks,
and long Johns and fleece - I'll be fin
e. "

Dick pipetting out the dead eggs

The remaining healthy eggs

And I was doing the same - this was the worst bucket - about 130 dead eggs on day one -
rest had less than 20

See the dead white egg in my pipette?

Second time crossing - water was only half- way to my knees BUT
 over the top of my waterproof hiking boots

On the way home we saw two ravens sitting on top of one of my bluebird boxes.  I told Dick to not bother stopping for a picture because there was no way I'd get a properly developed picture.  Then, as they flew off, I saw the lid was off the box and yelled, "STOP".  I jumped out of the truck and cautiously went through the ditch and up to the box.  I looked inside and saw only a few pieces of grass.  THEN I looked down and saw an entire, empty nest on the ground. When I got home, I looked up the data for that nest and found there had been six eggs in it.  And, since many of the females remain on the nest when I open the box, even the mom might have been eaten by those ravens.

Postscript, May 28

Box 13 E, the box from which the Ravens ate the eggs, has a mother bluebird incubating 2 eggs .

And the Tree Sparrows won the house wars. Here is what I saw on my survey.

Tree Swallow in nest box

And she has it almost finished with feathers - no eggs yet, though

May 30
I'm just back from tending the eggs.  So many of them died and the fungus got so bad, we have started checking on them twice a day. We have had fry in them for a few days and tonight most of the buckets have fry.  We have three buckets that were started late, because some of the fish weren't ready to release their eggs and the fish guys kept them a few more days.  So our fish tending is almost done for the year. But they will be monitored throughout the summer as they swim down towards Swan Lake and into it.

And last night, Dick went fishing after we tended the eggs.  I was going to but realized I'd left my camera back at the hatchery.   So I used most of my fishing time up retrieving it.  But I did get a lovely sunset along the edge of rain clouds.

Sunset from Culver Lake

May 31
The buckets are now mostly full of fry and no eggs.  Here is a picture I took this morning, after the blog came out.  The fry are about a half an  inch in this picture.  Younger fry are only about a quarter of an inch long.

Grayling fry that are several days old