Monday, April 13, 2015

Checking off Spring things

By Beth Sullivan
Finally, I think we can believe that the back of winter is broken, and that we are on the way to spring. In just the last week or two, some of the things I have been waiting for have made an appearance:
Red-Winged Blackbirds singing their spring song and declaring territory and more and more Osprey establishing themselves on nesting platforms.
The local Phoebe has begun to call, though still not frequently.
The Tree Swallows at Knox Preserve have begun swooping over the fields and checking out nest boxes.
The Spring Peepers are really cranking up the volume on the warmer nights from vernal pools around town. I am amazed they can sing even on the most recent chilly nights.
The greening still seems delayed. Buds are only just swelling, and the Hellebores in the wet woods have not shown themselves yet.

A Red Winged Blackbird stakes a claim at Paffard Marsh. Photo by Dan Hall.

Osprey arrived at Knox nest site.

This Green Frog just emerged from hibernation. Wood Frogs and Peepers have been out for two weeks and already are chorusing.

It will be time to start some clean-up work out on the preserves. Winter snowbanks covered a lot of trash along North Main Street. I am so disappointed in those humans who don’t seem to think or care when they toss their garbage! We may have a group of young “Explorers” willing to help along Fennerswood Preserve. If you see them out there, give a wave and a thumbs up. Work will resume on repair and rebuilding of the walls along North Main Street as well. They look nice already with the snow gone and brush all cut back.
Work will resume on stone walls. Some signs need repainting.

Get to the Great Outdoors

As you get out to hike on the preserves, enjoy the sights and sounds. The next month will bring the flood of migrants here for nesting or resting on their way further north.
The warmer weather has also brought out ticks. After the wet winter and spring, we are being told to beware! Please take precautions while you are out in the woods and grassy areas.
A few things to think about please: as we get into later April, many species of birds and mammals will begin nesting in fields and shrubs. It will be time to exert good judgment and to refrain from walking through our field preserves. Please use only the trails that allow easier and better travel-better for you and for wildlife. Especially, please, this is the time to keep dogs on leash and under control. Loose dogs will frighten, threaten, and even kill vulnerable young animals and birds. They can cause adults to abandon their young or nest. Loose dogs in vernal ponds and in streams can destroy egg masses of Amphibians.
Loose dogs can disturb nesting creatures in brush piles, fields, and vernal pools.

Vernal pools shelter amphibians and egg masses at this time of year.

To protect ground nesting birds and small mammals please refrain from walking into fields.

Stewardship in high gear

We will also begin our stewardship efforts: maintenance, clean up on trails and, walks to check for winter damage. If you spot a problem, please call the office. If you can help with a work party or want to work on your own, contact the office, and you will be directed to a steward in your town for advice and guidance. There are other things to be done as well; our many signs can be freshened up with new coats of paint. If you have time, grab a garbage bag, don some gloves and pick up some roadside eyesores to help any-where you can.
Migrating Ring-necked Ducks stop on sheltered waterways on their way north.

Every little bit helps, whether it is an active act of stewardship or just walking the preserves with an open eye and understanding why they are “Preserves.”
Enjoy the coming spring!

Photographs by Beth Sullivan, unless otherwise indicated.

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