Monday, April 29, 2013

Phenology 4.28.13

Each person has something they notice outdoors that reminds them of the change in the season, it may be a bird, a tree budding, flowers emerging, but year after year it reminds us of changing times. My favorite spring migrant has returned--the tree swallows! April 27th marks the first day I have noticed them back, and almost immediately they have made a claim on the same nesting box as last year. To my surprise they were not the only pair of tree swallows eager to make Alternative Roots Farm their home, there was a second pair attempting to use the birdhouse our neighbor made--perhaps these were chicks from last year's hatch?

This week has been a whirlwind of weather--from snow early in the week to the 70° days over the weekend. Despite the snow, all of the creatures and plants have been waiting and readying themselves for the warm weather. Here is what was noticed when I was in the ravine and wooded areas this week:
emergence of spring ephemerals, including dogtooth violet, round-lobed hepatica, and Dutchman's breeches; return of ovenbirds and yellow rumped warblers. I was even fortunate enough to see a barred owl up-close and during the day, while at work in the river valley floodplain forest.

The uplands are changing rapidly. Rooster pheasants are in grand color, and strutting around trying to gain the attention of a female, or two; the chorus of frogs have started in the wetland down the road (likely spring peepers and leopard frogs); the buds on the lilacs are very swollen.

On the farm we noticed a pair of brown thrashers has come back to nest--they are a delight to hear, as they call a chorus of mimicked bird songs. We are waiting for our native prairie (planted last fall), to germinate, this will still be a little bit of a wait; native grasses are "warm season" grasses, that emerge later on. The rhubarb is beginning to leaf out, the garlic and shallots are up, and the first planting is in the ground. No doubt now, spring is finally here.


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