Frogs and toads are breeding, butterflies flying, groundhogs foraging, birds migrating and early season flowers are blooming.
The white common blue violet in the above picture has been blooming for over a week on the path leading away from the Lemur House. There are also many of the blue form of violet along the same stretch of path.
American toads and pickerel frogs were vigorously calling and mating on the warm afternoons of the second full week of March. Many museum visitors got close looks at the amphibians.
On any warm day during winter and early spring you may come across one or both of our local anglewing butterflies, question mark (Polygonia interrogationis) and eastern comma (Polygonia comma). I happened upon a comma while walking down one of our service roads.
At least two osprey made flybys over the museum grounds on the 15th of this month. They were both northbound. I was only able to get a shot of one, going away. The photo shows little detail, but it’s unmistakably an osprey (shape).
Red buckeye is waking up. Buckeye is a small understory tree or shrub which leafs-out and blooms early in the season. It typically grows along watercourses. Here, it’s planted along the main path leading to Catch the Wind.
Hooded mergansers will be leaving us soon. They usually depart by April if not sooner.
Ironwood or hophornbeam is showing catkins. There are half a dozen of these small trees growing along the path in Catch The Wind.
Behind the ubiquitous Canada geese (below) are equally ubiquitous yellow-bellied sliders. Curiously missing is one of the largest slider inhabitants in our wetlands, a female who those familiar with her know as “Chip.” A piece of her shell was damaged many years ago and is quite obvious, even from a distance. I’ve not seen her yet this year. She’s usually out basking early in the season.
The photo below shows Chip in 2016 basking with a one year old slider. Yellow-bellied sliders can live 30 years or more. Has Chip succumbed to old age?
And finally, they’ve been active for over a month, but more so now with the current accelerated vegetational growth. Groundhogs are popping up along the paths of the outdoor loop here at the museum. Keep an extra sharp eye out near the entrance to the Dinosaur Trail.
If you haven’t been out and about lately, you’ve no doubt missed some of the changes taking place. So, get out and have a look around!