Last week started cool, temperature-wise, but ended with a warmth that brought out all manner of creatures and plants that had been lying in wait for just that moment to arrive.
There are a lot of photos to show and things to discuss, so let’s start with the snake above.
It was pointed out to me that someone here at the museum had seen a water snake back at the end of February or in early March. We had some unusually warm days back then, so I do not doubt the sighting. However, the first northern water snake of the season for me was during last week’s heat-up on 30 March.
The snake’s appearance coincided with the breeding of American toads.
The snake soon crossed over the path (top photo) into the swamp where dozens of toads were calling and mating.
It didn’t take long for the snake to snatch a toad.
Some breakout plants.
And, one strange and unexpected bit of flora, a trout lily. I had never seen a trout lily here at the museum in the ten years I’ve spent on campus. Oh, there used to be a cultivated wildflower trail on the south side of the property with bloodroot, dutchman’s breeches, trillium, trout lily and other springtime specialties but that has more or less been taken over by progress. Many of the plants were rescued, but for the most part they’re all gone. So, it was quite a surprise for me to spot the two leaves of a trout lily on the north side of our 84 acres, far from the wildflower garden of old.
More surprising is the fact that I hadn’t noticed the plant earlier. You see, the lily had already bloomed and set forth seed. In this part of the world trout lilies bloom in early March. I didn’t see the plant until the end of march. The single stalk that both the showy yellow flower and seed had once been the terminus of was still present as were the leaves. But how had I walked by this spot countless times and not noticed it? It’s just feet from the main path, “someone must have planted it there while I wasn’t looking.”
Typically, where there’s one trout lily there’s more. Perhaps this will be the start of a colony of these plants, though that may take years. Wishful thinking? In the mean time, I’m still scratching my head as to how I hadn’t seen the plant while in bloom.
Redbud finally came out in full force, along with a familiar insect.
And an unfamiliar tree, Amur maple.
An early season butterfly.
I’d seen a few males earlier in March, but this (above) was the first female.
I found the spider below in a hole excavated by a carpenter bee. It had taken over.
And two herons.
I usually see the first green heron in mid April here at the museum. This one is an early arrival.
There’s lots more happening out there, I saw a couple of rough-winged swallows the other day, dogwood and wisteria are blooming…but don’t take my word for it, get out and have a look for yourself.
Cooler weather has returned, short-lived I’m sure. It may slow down the progress of spring, but it certainly won’t stop it!