Friday, April 09, 2010

Maybe it is, maybe it isn't

I believe this plant is woody nightshade. That purple shade in the budding flowers isn’t a common color. But I’ve never found the flower before it was fully in bloom or when the plant was this small, so I’m not entirely sure. In any event, the plant looks pretty in the morning sun.

Last night the big cold front came through and dropped the temperature a good 30 degrees, so now it feels like spring again instead of midsummer. A few hot days is all it took for leaves to appear on the trees. Dogwood and redbud are both starting to bloom now too, and the forest undergrowth is up and leafing out.

In the short term, I wonder and worry what this means for this year’s spring warblers. Historically, the migration of individual warbler species was timed to the appearance of specific bugs favored by that species. And those bugs themselves appeared at differing points in the leafing-out process.

Over the past 10-15-20 years, warblers simply seem to be fewer in number every year. Those amazing “warbler waves” that I remember as a young birdwatcher are something I haven’t seen in years. It used to be that 20 species of warblers in a day was considered a good day. Lately, it feels more as though I can find 20 species in a season, if I’m lucky, and then only 1 or 2 of each species, instead of dozens.

The early springs aren’t the only cause of the warbler decline, of course. The other usual suspects, particularly habitat loss from development, also plays a major role. Perhaps warblers could adjust from one of these causes, but from the two together? Well, so far they aren’t doing very well.

So far the only spring warblers I’ve found are the ubiquitous yellow-rumped warblers (butterbutts). It will be another few weeks before I have a better idea how the rest of the species are doing.


Woodswalker said...

Your flower looks like Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) to me. Its flower buds tend to pinkness, although its open flowers are very blue. Woody Nightshade is a flower I've never seen. Is it common on your mountaintop? Or is that a local name for Virginia Bluebells?

Carolyn H said...

Woodswalker: okay, bluebells are a good guess, maybe. i don't see those very often here either, and none when the flowers were just budded. These flowers had that deep purple color to them--no sign of pinkness. I supposed the easiest thing would be to go back to the spot where I saw them last weekend and see if they are out yet!

Carolyn H

Anonymous said...

It's pretty, whatever it is. :)


LauraHinNJ said...

Certainly bluebells... their colors fade to pink as they age.

Adayak said...

The flower looks so sad.

Elora said...

For whatever mysterious reason, I lost you for awhile! Didn't realize I wasn't getting feeds from your blog until this a.m. Guess it happened when I was sweeping up and clearing out some blogs that were not as appealing as they were originally, but that CERTAINLY did NOT include yours! You've had some lovely posts while I was "gone!" And blooming things seem to be moving along a little more swiftly where you are. We're going to drop back into the "cold" in the next few days, but I believe the apples have already set a lot of fruit, as well as plums, peaches, etc. "Patchy" frost will not lean too heavily on the blossoms (and set fruit)as they are now.

Glad to have you "back!"

dguzman said...

Dang that warm March weather; it's got the trees leafing out too early for warbler migration viewing!