Where’s Spring?

There’s still a few weeks to go before it’s officially spring, but as far as I’m concerned, it has arrived. So, here’s some springtime happenings out in Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind.

Alders are one of the earliest of woody plants to bloom and the plants here at the Museum have had flowers on them for the past few weeks.

Alders are one of the earliest native plants to flower here at the Museum. The male catkins are obvious in this shot.

The male flowers on alders are in the form of catkins, the female flowers are tiny, red spiked structures and are usually just above the male flowers.

The upright female flowers on alders are typically located on the same branch, proximal to the male flowers.

Elms and maples are also in bloom at this time.

It’s easy to pass by the tiny, unobtrusive flowers of elm trees.
The blossoms of the maples are also rather small. However, the bright red color of the flowers makes them hard to miss on the otherwise barren trees at this time of year.

Redbud and dogwood are next in line to bloom.

Both redbud (pictured) and dogwood still have a few weeks or more before they’re in bloom (photo – 3/3/11).

Look for the redbud’s magenta blooms during the latter half of March, the dogwood two to several weeks later. But, if you remember back to April of last year, the redbud, dogwood, and wisteria were all in bloom at the same time. All three of those plants in bloom at the same time is unusual. It was the weather that caused last year’s trifecta of woody blossoms.

One of three Bullfrogs seen on the 18th of February.

Frogs are beginning to appear in the Wetlands. I’ve seen half-a-dozen or so Bullfrogs. Pickerel Frogs are making their way down to the water from their upland winter haunts, and their low, snore-like calls can be heard coming from the shallow water on the north side of the Wetlands. Spring Peepers and a few Upland Chorus Frogs may also be heard. American Toads have yet to make an appearance.

Pickerel Frogs have been moving down to the Wetlands in search of mates.
Some Pickerel Frogs apparently knew exactly what they were looking for in a mate, wasting little time in finding a partner.
Ken (left) and Steve replace the roof on this bluebird nest box in Catch the Wind.

On February 19, we had a visit from Ken Kernodle and Steve McDaniel to inspect and clean out our bluebird nest boxes. Ken and Steve installed the boxes in March of last year and have been back several times to clean, repair, or check the progress of any birds that nested in the boxes. Thanks, gentlemen!

A murder of crows, Fish Crows, were seen on the first day of March. Although I’d seen Fish Crows in other parts of our local area previously, March 1st was the first time this season that these small crows were seen or heard by me at the Museum.

A small group of Fish Crows heading north on the first of March. Several flocks were seen the following day.
Will the mergansers stay and nest in the cozy nest boxes provided for them?

There are still 8-9 Hooded Mergansers in the Wetlands as of today (3/4/11). We will find out within the next few weeks whether or not a pair of those cavitiy nesting ducks decides to stay and use the nest boxes erected for them in the Wetlands. I’m anxiously waiting.

In the mean time, I witnessed a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks copulating on a tree branch in Catch the Wind on March 3, and the male kingfisher continues his attempts to impress the female with his fishing prowess down in the Wetlands.

I’ve still not seen any odonates. I was hoping to see a Fragile Forktail or two but it’s still early. I did get a look at a Golden Netwing Beetle during the last week of February (sorry, no picture). This small reddish beetle is an early season beetle, I’ve only ever seen one in late February or March.

Enjoy the last few weeks of “official” winter.

3 responses to Where’s Spring?

  1. Avatar
    Wendy says:

    A “murder of crows”. Interesting – after Googling it I know now that it’s the correct term for a group of crows. (Now I need to take another look at Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.) Thanks, Greg!

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