Friday, March 13, 2020

A Change-filled Week

Wow. I think I would describe this past week as... "turbulent." With the quickly escalating world health concerns, several aspects of my work were abruptly turned on their head this week, and many people in my part of the world are facing sudden changes in their personal and professional lives. Amid all the uncertainty, I've made sure to take the time this week to go outside and marvel at the changes happening there. These changes in nature can be sudden and surprising, too, but they're also thrilling, joyous, and wholly positive. Spring is coming! So let's focus on those happier changes for a bit, shall we?

The first flowers of the year appeared in our yard this week. :) On March 10, with temperatures in the upper 60s (F), a patch of newly opened Snowdrops played host to a European Honey Bee, who must have been happy to find the only flowers around:

This is not a native plant, and not a native insect, but it's so wonderful to see flowers and pollinators again after months of winter. And Snowdrops are so whimsical, and honey bees so fuzzy, and the sunlight was so warm and sweet on this perfect spring day:

Yesterday, March 12, a patch of reliably early crocuses added their colorful blossoms to our yard:

And today, I spotted tiny blossoms appearing on our American Hazelnut bushes, the first native plants to bloom in our yard this year. American Hazelnuts have these long, hanging structures that produce pollen, and also tiny frilly female structures, all on the same plant:

I planted these hazelnut bushes in 2017, and this is the first year they've bloomed. I'm so happy to see the brilliant pink color of these female flowers, just now emerging from their protective buds:

Most other plants around here are still a ways away from flowering, but hints of life are starting to appear.... Tiny nubs have popped up above the ground where I planted Bloodroot rhizomes near the house last year, which gives me hope that I'll see these wonderful white flowers -- or at least their lovely lobed leaves -- sometime in April:

The bird activity is ramping up around here. Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles have returned to the area, and many of our year-round species have increased their singing efforts. A pair of local Common Ravens has become especially vocal, and I have frequently seen the two of them together and heard them calling as they fly over our yard. Yesterday, they got into a dispute with another pair of ravens who must have encroached on their territory, and the four big black birds chased and dove and yelled at each other several times during the day:

Common Ravens are not actually common around here, so seeing four birds in the midst of a territorial conflict was pretty amazing. Here's an image of two of those four birds, flying close together either in support or in opposition, but I'm not sure which:

Today, I saw a pair of ravens gathering sticks from White Pine trees in the woods around our property. It seems like a nest is in the works somewhere out there, and hopefully this means there will be baby ravens later in the year.

I have a couple of other sights to share from this past week that aren't really related to spring-time changes. Here's a sleek Hairy Woodpecker (a bird which has somehow never appeared on this blog before now) enjoying the suet feeder, the newest addition to our bird-feeding setup:

And the night of March 10 was warm enough that I stepped outside to take pictures of the full supermoon, first with clouds:

And then alone:

And here's one more spring-time report: Today brought my first Wood Frogs of the year. I heard them calling as I walked down the slope toward the small pool in our woods on this sunny 50-degree afternoon -- what a joyous surprise indeed! More change will be on the way now. I'll do my best to focus on the happy changes in our yard, meadow, and woods, and try not to be overwhelmed by the other less happy changes that may come our way.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Trail Camera at the Frozen Woods Pool

For the past week, my trail camera has been watching a corner of the small pool in our woods. The water was frozen over, and I had noticed some tracks on the ice, so I set up the trail camera there, thinking it was possible that a creature could pass that way again. I didn't actually think the camera would see much of anything, but I figured it was worth a try at least. So I was pretty well surprised when I checked the camera today and found several videos of furry passersby, and quite close up, too. I had no idea the ice on this small pool would make for such a popular pathway!

The video compilation here shows: (1) a cautious Eastern Cottontail Rabbit; (2) a Raccoon reaching into the water -- and is it making sounds? (3) two Raccoons, one after the other; (4) a brief appearance by a sleek Red Fox; and (5) a Gray Fox. Judging from how many times they've shown up on the trail camera in these past couple of months, Gray Foxes seem to be especially frequent visitors in our woods. I'd never seen a Gray Fox at all before moving to this house, and I'm very happy to have these beautiful creatures around.

The ice on the pool is now melted, but I'll leave the camera at this spot for a little while longer to see whether any animals still pass this way. I'm very much enjoying these glimpses of the wildlife in our woods!