On the cusp of spring 3-18-20

March 18, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Promises, promises...we are truly on the cusp of Spring!

 

We will be making the most of our time now to observe nature and share what we can capture with our different means of photography. A new bird species, FOY #40 was spotted first by Dan while I was getting some coffee on Saturday morning, 3-14-20. We don't see this species every year, last year a pair flew over, but it has been wet enough to tempt them to come in and check out the wetland.

 

Mallards! They dabbled and waddled, making the most of the ducky weather for a good twenty minutes.

 

3-14-20 FOY #40 Mallard pair3-14-20 FOY #40 Mallard pair 3-14-20 Mallard Drake3-14-20 Mallard Drake 3-14-20 Mallard Hen3-14-20 Mallard Hen

 

Early the next morning, a deer was checking out the bubbler area. Our two grandsons giggled with this one! 

 

3-15-20 Deer nuzzling camera

 

Later in the morning, I thought I saw an Eastern Bluebird again, diving down into the leaves for an insect. When I came back with the camera, I couldn't find the male but there was a female high in one of the sugar maples. 

 

3-15-20 Eastern Bluebird female3-15-20 Eastern Bluebird female

 

Last year we thought about putting up a nest box, but we have concerns with other species taking over them in our fairly wooded space. I asked Dan if we should reconsider giving it a try. Dan was on it! We looked up plans online and he came up with enough cedar from other projects. He made a slightly altered version of a Gilwood box, giving it a thicker roof with a bit of a slant.

 

Nestbox plans
 

3-15-20 Eastern Bluebird nest box, built by Dan.3-15-20 Eastern Bluebird nest box, built by Dan.

 

Dan enjoyed the challenge and we both relished having an idea to focus on that was positive, helping another native bird species right in our own yard. It will take some luck and careful monitoring. We are novices at this! We had two places in mind and are trying it in the garden first. We just aren't sure if this area will be open enough for them. Stay tuned for updates!

 

3-16-20 Eastern Bluebird nest box in the garden.3-16-20 Eastern Bluebird nest box in the garden.


One of the Carolina wrens was foraging in the leaves, near some emerging Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica). A hairy woodpecker came in to get some bark butter and look for insects in a small oak. That delicate white feathering around the eyes makes me think of a harlequin.

 

3-16-20 Carolina wren foraging in leaves near Virginia Bluebells3-16-20 Carolina wren foraging in leaves near Virginia Bluebells 3-16-20 Hairy Woodpecker3-16-20 Hairy Woodpecker 3-16-20 Hairy Woodpecker3-16-20 Hairy Woodpecker

 

A Carolina chickadee got a quick bath and a downy woodpecker came to the basin to get a sip of water.

 

3-16-20 Carolina Chickadee3-16-20 Carolina Chickadee 3-16-20 Downy Woodpecker3-16-20 Downy Woodpecker

 

St. Patrick's day was pretty cool to start, then warmed up enough to work in the garden. My first task was to pull some emerging wintercreeper euonymous (Euonymous fortunei), on the left with obovate leaves, and bush honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii), in the upper right corner. The usually high, dry areas were nice and moist from earlier rains, just perfect conditions to get 'em now, roots and all. After years spent removing these invasive plants, they continue to try and take hold, so we make the effort to get on top of it early in the spring. 

 

3-17-20 Invasive Wintercreeper and Bush Honeysuckle before removal3-17-20 Invasive Wintercreeper and Bush Honeysuckle before removal

 

We have 80% native plants here now. The 20% that are non-native function in different ways in our garden. We enjoy the Lenten roses (Helleborus orientalis) for their very early blooms in shades of purplish-pink to soft white. They spread slowly, and not invasively.

 

3-17-20 Non-native Helleborus species in bloom3-17-20 Non-native Helleborus species in bloom 3-17-20 Non-native Helleborus species in bloom3-17-20 Non-native Helleborus species in bloom

 

However, I'm really looking forward to the April blooms of the native Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia), which are in bud now. Maybe this year, the timing will coincide and I'll catch a hummingbird getting nectar from the flowers. 

 

3-17-20 Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)3-17-20 Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)

 

Back to birds, it seems the Carolina wrens have given up the nest site to the Eastern phoebes. I think they must have a new spot, the male was just singing his little heart out yesterday! What a joyful song.

 

  3-17-20 Carolina Wren3-17-20 Carolina Wren 3-17-20 Carolina Wren3-17-20 Carolina Wren 3-17-20 Carolina Wren3-17-20 Carolina Wren

 

The Northern cardinals were caught sharing a tidbit, a behavior called 'pair-bonding'. It's another promise of spring, cementing their relationship for this imminent, busy time of breeding, protecting their territory and caring for young.

 

3-17-20 Northern Cardinals, pair-bonding3-17-20 Northern Cardinals, pair-bonding

 

Last but not least, a short clip from the Bubbler cam to view. This critter does something that we humans are now doing a lot right now... but I don't think this raccoon has sung two verses!

 

3-18-20 Raccoon washing paws

 

Life is precious, take care and take time to be outside!

 

 


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