Sunday, January 07, 2007

Spring is Not Here Yet (thank heaven!)

I've been asked a few times if I'm seeing any signs of spring around the cabin. The answer is no, not really. Certainly I've seen no new plant growth, unlike in Washington, D.C., where the cherry blossoms are apparently out, at least a few of them.

I have seen some grass that's has a suspicous green tinge to it. And I have moss in the middle of my driveway that's pretty green. But normally I can't see moss in January at all, since it's usually covered with snow, so I don't have anything to compare this with.

One thing I've seen that is unusual is that I saw a black vulture yesterday. Black vultures are the more southerly loving cousin of turkey vultures. Until 10-15 years ago, I'd never seen one at all in Pennsylvania. They are still less common here than the turkey vultures. I think they are prettier than the turkey vulture, and they are better flyers too. The first time I saw one in Pennsylvania was on a hawkwatch, with someone calling out "immature bald eagle." By the time I'd raised my binoculars, it was obvious the bird wasn't an eagle at all, but a black vulture. Still, the person who'd never seen a black vulture before can be forgiven mistaking it for a young eagle, as these birds don't have the telltale "v" shape to their wings or the rocking flight pattern that is typical of the turkey vulture.

Black vultures migrate in the fall, though apparently they don't go too far south when they do. It is fairly common to see one on a warm February day with a south wind. Typically, they disappear again as soon as the snow flies, not to return for good until mid-March or so. But a sighting in early January is a rarity. Of course, it was in the mid-'60's here yesterday, a new record, and that warm wind could easily have drawn a few northward for the day.

Today, the weather is not yet winterlike, but it is headed in that direction, though for how long is anyone's guess.


pablo said...

The tips of some of my hickory trees at Roundrock are already showing as though they are ready to send out leaves.

Carolyn H said...


At least some of the cherry blossoms are out in D.C. So far, my buds don't look any different--and colder weather is due later today, though only for a short stay.