By Beth Sullivan
In February and March we could revel
in the spring feel, even though it confused the plants and some
creatures. Then in mid-April we were once again thrown a stretch of
out-of-sync weather that was an unkind throwback to winter. It is
hard enough being human and adjusting to the wild swings, at least
this human would prefer a bit more consistency! But it can be life
threatening for some wildlife.
Some things happen in synchrony with
the length of days, the hours of daylight inspire some birds to
migrate and flowers to bloom. The Phoebes and Tree Swallows arrived
on time in the last week of March. They immediately were hit by the
cold stretch in early April and being insect eaters, were severely
challenged. They eat flying insects, and in that snow and rain, there
were none. Some birds can adapt to other food sources, but it’s not
so easy for these two species. It is hard to really know how these
birds fared and if there was mortality, but now that the temperature
has climbed, and the insects have re-emerged, the Phoebe is singing
from his favorite nest site at the barn next door, and the Tree
Swallows are back to their business of arguing about the best real
estate at Knox preserve.
|The Tree Swallows are back looking for the best nest site. Photograph by Rick Newton.|
come back pretty regularly each year, influenced a bit by which way
the wind is blowing as they make their way north. In general, they
are not too affected by colder weather. Though the water did not
freeze, colder air at the surface will drive fish deeper in the
water, making them harder to catch.
|The Osprey are investigating our newest platforms in several preserves. Photograph by Rick Newton.|
We noticed that several established
nests were removed from utility poles along the Rail Road tracks
before the birds returned this year. Now we are watching them take up
residence on some of the new platforms we put up for them. We have
had a report that our recently erected platform on Continental marsh
has seen some activity, but that the Osprey have chosen to return to
their nest in the trees.
|This Bullfrog emerged from hibernation to find some interlopers at the edge of the pond.|
Some things happen in response to
temperature: blossoming of certain plants when the temps warm up. My
Quince bush began to blossom but then dropped all the partly opened
blooms in the cold snap. I know there have been no Hummingbirds in
the area that rely on the nectar, and now I wonder if there will be
enough for them when they come back at the end of the month. Other
fruit-bearing trees and shrubs may have been impacted adversely if
their buds froze, or if pollination didn’t occur during the cold
period. We may not know the impact of that until later in the season
when we, and the birds, are looking for fruits and berries.
|Quince bloomed very early with the warmth, then dropped the blossoms.|
|Woodland wildflowers like this Bloodroot are blooming.|
And then some things just keep on
marching along: the invasive plants green up earliest, the ticks are
out and we are beginning our spring stewardship efforts again.
But the beautiful greens are
showing, woodland wildflowers are budding, the great Blue Herons have
returned to their nests at Henne, Robins are pulling worms out of the
softened ground, and it makes everything seem all right.
|Herons have returned to Henne Preserve. |
|Toads trill in vernal pools. Photograph by Bruce Fellman.|
Photographs by Beth Sullivan unless