Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Seasons are Stalled!

Ten days ago, it seemed like spring had arrived. Temperatures soared, it was actually warm outside, and the snow started melting fast. The first wave of spring migrants arrived back, with robins, red-wing blackbirds, grackles, and a turkey vulture all suddenly showing up in the space of 3 days. Further south, we saw a flock of tundra swans in a field, resting and feeding on their way north (see 3 pix). Canada geese are showing up in pairs, sitting on still-frozen ponds, hoping for spring.

But then winter returned with a snowstorm that changed the world to white again, and the spring birds have gone back into hiding. And the weather is just staying cold, well below zero at night, and barely up to the freezing mark during the day, in spite of bright sunny skies. The snow is not melting, just slowly evaporating, straight into the air.

But some things do tolerate late winter weather. In the swamp, skunk cabbage have started to poke their lime-green sheeth of leaves above the snow, generating a small oven of warmth within their leaves that may be 20 degrees higher than the surrounding air, to protect this, the earliest of the spring flowers.

And we still see the deer. The other evening we looked out the window to see 6 of them grazing quietly on our lawn (where we had mixed in lots of clover with the grass seed), not 20 feet from the house. And the small flock of male red-wing blackbirds (the males return first; the females when it's warmer) was sitting in a tree this morning, looking like they were shivering in the cold.

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