Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spring Progesses

I everyone, this is Tom posting a nature update.
On this last day of February 2011. the temperatures at near 60 degrees. The Canada geese are back and acting territorially, six wood duck and two mallards also on the pond today. And a noisy kingfisher is happy that most of the ice covering the pond is melting away. On a quick walk around the pond, I saw perhaps a dozen painted turtles basking on sunny logs. In the warmer shallow waters, at the begining of the boardwalk, I saw a red spotted newt. And green frogs were active in the small ponds fed by the large rock spring. So spring is inching it's way closer and closer. I was surprised that there were no wood frogs calling today.....but it won't be long now.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Spring Has Sprung

Skunk Cabbage





Hi nature lovers, this is Tom.... finally posting on the blog! The last few days have been a welcome relief from the long cold winter. Although we are still in that transitional period from winter to spring.....things are moving in the right direction (if you like spring time!) The first true wildflower of the new year is in bloom and goes by the lovely name of Skunk Cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus (compound fruit) (fetid =foul smelling). The first cultivated flower, Snow Drops, with small white bell-like flowers hanging down, bloomed just today. This is the beginning of a flower explosion that will continue through May.


And while winter birds like Pine Siskins, Juncos and White-throated sparrows are still around, that too will be changing. A Yellow-rumped warbler was at the feeder today and the Song sparrows are singing on habitat. Red-shouldered hawks have been soaring ahead making their distinctive fast, piercing call. I think this has excited our education Red-tailed hawk as she has begun nesting preparations. This summer marks the 20th year of her residency here at Wahkeena and for many of those years her has laid eggs in the spring. (No, none have ever hatch....if you don't know why....visit the preserve to find out!


The honey bees have also become active, cleaning the hive and getting drinks of water from the edge of the pond as the ice is slowing receding.


We are also approaching the time of year when the amphibian population wakes up. Within the next several weeks, when temps and moisture are right, wood frogs and spotted salamanders along with other species will make their way to breeding ground, vernal ponds, wetlands, etc. Stay tuned for more information on this topic.