Monday, March 28, 2016

Odd and ends

Lichen and bark

I’m still coughing from that dratted, awful cold but mostly I am back to normal.  Here on Roundtop, spring is starting to spring.  I see yellow-rumped warblers fairly regularly.  The American coot that set up shop on the little snowmaking pond is still there. The bird seems healthy and happy, but why it has chosen this little pond to hang out on when bigger ponds and lakes abound isn’t something I understand.
The dog-toothed violets/trout lilies/etc. are just about ready to bloom.  The stalks are up but the flowers aren’t yet out.  I will check the patch later today again, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few flowers open before evening.
Except for two days, the entire month of March here has been above average in temperature.  For a while, it looked as though the month would rank in the top five warmest March’s since recordkeeping began.  Those two cooler days were enough to drop the month into the #7 slot.  So far the month is 6.7 degrees warmer than average, which is pretty warm.

At the moment the wind is fierce, following a day of light showers and fog.  With this kind of wind I don’t venture outside very often or too much.  It’s the kind of wind that brings down branches but hopefully not trees.  Still, I feel a lot safer with a roof over my head.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Breaking new ground

Dog-toothed violet or trout lily,--take your pick
I have had the worst cold of my life for going on two weeks.  My sister gave it to me, and I told her during the worst of the cold that if I’d gotten this cold ten years from now it would either kill me or put me in the hospital.  I have now returned to the land of the living, though the cough and some remnants still remain.  No long walks in the forest for me just yet, but I am well enough to wander around my own little acreage.  And that is where I discovered the first leaves in my dog-toothed violet/trout lily patch.
The pretty bi-colored leaves aren’t hard to see, but they can be hidden by fall’s leaves as they are only up by an inch or two at the moment.  It’s a good thing the flowers aren’t out yet.  Tomorrow I will get what is virtually certain to be the last gasp of winter on what will be the first day of spring.  Several inches of wet, heavy snow are predicted, a true “onion” snow, as such things are called in this area.
Other signs of spring are popping up.  Spring is not yet exploding but it’s moving forward, about like when the first kernels of the popcorn start to pop.  The first phoebes arrived a week ago.  I have had an American Coot on the smallest snowmaking pond for a week now.  It shows no signs of leaving.  The ski resort has closed for the season, too.
As I type a local Blue Jay is performing its Red-tailed Hawk call.  It started doing that about 10 days ago and is so pleased with itself that it now calls all over the mountain.  It particularly performs the call just before landing in my bird feeders, perhaps hoping to clear the decks so it can have the feeders to itself.

I am glad this cold has nearly run its course in time for me to enjoy the start of spring, even if I have to shovel to get to the chicken coop one more time. 

Friday, March 04, 2016

Could this little snow...

…be the last?  
It’s early, even here in southern Pennsylvania, for the last snow to be on the fourth of March.  However, the next week looks spring-like, and by the time that weather pattern is gone it will be mid-March.  And after mid-March snow becomes fairly unlikely here.  Cold weather can abound in March, but precipitation—not so much.

So I am enjoying this little bit of snow this morning.  It likely won’t last much past lunch time, when the temperature rises above freezing. Despite the 31” blizzard of late January, 2016 brought fewer snow events than is typical. I only recorded 6 days with snow this winter, and half of those were about the depth of this little snow.  Last year was exceptionally snowy with 15 snow events against an average of 8. The snowfall in winter 2015-16 stands (so far) as one below average, though that big blizzard sure tried hard to make up for the lack. 

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

The marcescent leaves of these young American beech trees won't be around too much longer.
This morning I saw the first northbound skein of Canada geese, a long line of about 150 birds, far more than the 30-couple that are resident here on Roundtop.  The lone male red-winged blackbird has now been joined by several fellows.  The boys are settling on territory, arriving earlier than the females, who will decide later which of these singers with red chevrons on their wings has the best spot to build their nests.
With the disappearance of the snow cover, I can once again walk through the forest around Roundtop.  In much of winter I am restricted to plowed roads and pathways.  Even once the snow melts, I avoid the worst of the mud.  I own “Wellies,” which are great at keeping out the mud but not designed for long walks.  Last night saw a mild freeze, which froze the mud long enough for me to take an early morning walk. 

Tomorrow a bit more snow is called for, which means today is the calm before the storm, and a beautiful, calm morning it is—ideal for a walk in the woods. Woodpeckers were busy; a pair of mallards were complaining about something, the bluebirds were singing.  Between them and the blackbirds, the songs nearly qualified as a dawn chorus, a harbinger of spring if ever there was one.