Monday, April 08, 2013

Ta da!

Coltsfoot is up! This little dandelion lookalike without the leaves is always the first bloom of spring and quite often the first anything above the ground here on Roundtop. I found this bloom on Sunday, the first warm day that stayed in the ‘60s for more than a minute and a half.

Timing of the arrival of this plant isn’t unusual. My blog tags show other blooming days of April 5 and April 7. I had a few late blooming days of April 20 and April 18, too, so overall the timing is quite typical.

Coltsfoot is from the aster family, which isn’t a surprise when you see the flower. The leaves don’t appear until after the bloom is done. The plant used to be used to make teas but was found in more modern times to cause severe liver problems, especially in infants and even when the mother drank the tea and not the child. So the plant has no good use except to announce the arrival of spring before anything else does.

Around the cabin, phoebes are singing on territory now and not just passing through on their trips further north. Yesterday I let the chickens run loose, though I checked on them frequently. Doodle my rooster alarmed every time a crow flew past, let alone a turkey vulture, and I would go outside to check that their alarms weren’t caused by something more predatory. Every time I went outside, from morning to evening, a phoebe was singing away.

Hawkwatches around the Great Lakes reported a good day yesterday, too. A nice southwesterly breeze gave migrants a nice tail wind to aid their flights. I am still waiting for and hoping for the first small migrants, such as blue-gray gnatcatcher or perhaps a yellow-rumped warbler. So far that hasn’t happened, but they will be moving north too and it’s likely this week will see the first arrivals of those.

Spring is underway, if not yet reaching the explosive point. That will come soon enough.

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