Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Where is Spring?


In the past week, it has snowed several times and temperatures have stayed below freezing most nights.  A gradual warm-up this week won't make up for the coldest March I can remember.

It's not just here in the Appalachian Mountains that March is turning out to be the coldest, snowiest month.  Just look at these maps checking out the snow cover of the United States on March 25 of 2012 and this year.  In last year's post "Early Trillium, Spring out of Whack," I was bemoaning the fact that the poor bloodroot flowers were sprout thru thick green vegetation.

The birds have flocked to the feeders, sometimes hundreds of them. 

The Eastern Towhee has come back from wintering somewhere, probably Texas. He must be wondering where spring is too.  The black-eyed juncos (above the towhee in the photo) will stick around until the end of April when they will migrate north or maybe just higher into the Applachian Mountains.

This morning, I noticed that this cut-leaf toothwort was brave enough to peek thru the leaves.  Hopefully, it will bloom by this weekend when it is supposed to warm up.  It is surely late this year.  But, if you asked me which I preferred, a hot or cold March, I would have to say a cold March.  It makes spring all that much sweeter when it finally arrives.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Birds of Florida

Spring seems to coming in fits and starts this year.  We will have a couple of warm days followed by cold windy days.  During one of those cold spells at the beginning of March, I was fortunate to spend a couple of days visiting my sister in Florida.

As soon as I arrived, we walked about two miles around the large lake which is a part of Miromar development.   This bird I believe is a Northern Waterthrush and was bouncing all over the rocks that line the lake.  

We went to the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
on Sanibel Island the next morning where I saw many birds--not as many though as on other visits--maybe the weather was too warm for them to be in the shallow waters.

 White pelicans did not mind the shallows though.
 I enjoyed watching the Anhinga swim and catch fish...

....and then dry its wings in the surrounding trees. 

 The next day, we went to Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, close to the Ft. Myers airport.    I am so glad that Lee County preserved these lands for all to enjoy (for a nominal fee for parking).

Every pond had turtles that were basking in the sunlight and .....
.... and also small alligators.  I was glad that the boardwalk protected us from the large ones which we did not see thankfully.

 I enjoyed looking at the many wildflowers, especially the native irises....

 ....that grew in the waters.
Also, there were many bromeliads on the trees.

 In two sections of the one mile boardwalk, we saw and mostly heard many warblers.  It was very dark and the birds moved so fast I could only get blurry pictures.  I would love help with the identification of this one.

I also couldn't find this bird in my field guides.  I did identify a gray gnat catcher but he also was moving too fast to get a photo.

While I enjoyed my quick trip visiting Florida, I was glad to get back home to some warm weather.  A few nights ago, I heard spring peepers for the first time.  The spice bush looks ready to bloom any day now too.