.......and Reflections

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Notes From Afield on the First Day of Spring

It's the first day of spring and the weather is anything but springlike....or is it. I am pretty sure my best memory of spring was last year when the day time temperatures were in the 70's and even 80's. But when I think back over the many years I realize that this spring is pretty typical for NE Ohio.

Spring is really more about chronological progression toward summer than it is about comfortable t-shirt weather. In fact, spring is usually that challenging time of transition from the cold grip of winter and the warmth of the summer season.

Our 2013 first day of spring is cold with a biting wind and lake effect snow showers. The sun comes out and the clouds role through. Yet this spring day is right about what it should be as you travel around the Northeast Ohio middle of nowhere.

I traveled about 35 miles today and there was plenty to see. There were 19 species of waterfowl around Mosquito Lake and ponds and creeks in mosquito Creek Wildlife Area. There are plenty of migrating ducks and some looking for nesting sites in the area. A lot of ducks are paired up and, if not, courting for that privilege.

Canada Geese are paired up, cruising together on ponds or foraging in fields and corn stubble. Bald Eagles are paired, not just for breeding, but for life and eagles are sitting in their nest or hanging close by. Juvenile and sub adult eagles are numerous and congregate where ever food might be available. They will sit on the sidelines for a few years until they are ready to find a soul mate for life and raise annual families.

Northern Pike are spawning in shallow waters that will soon disappear as spring progresses. They are now laying and fertilizing eggs in flooded waters. It will be a primeval race between drying wetlands and hatching eggs to see if 2013 will be a productive hatch.

Blackbirds, absent a few weeks ago, seem to be on every fence line and moving in large foraging flocks with Brown-headed Cowbirds, Rusty Blackbirds, Common Grackles and occasionally with a few European Starlings. Red-winged Blackbird males are here now and a little later in the spring the females will arrive. Now that the boys are on territory and struttin' their stuff, the females will come and pick and choose the males with the best song and brightest red shoulders. And those female looking Red-wings you see in flocks now are most likely young males that still hold on to their juvenile, female, appearing plumage.

Yes its cold and the weather is frightful. But it isn't January and February. The birds are singing. All the creatures, while probably as tired of the weather as we are, are proceeding in spite of it all. I suspect if we are looking for good advice as we suffer with our "tardy" spring, all we need to do is look around us and we will see it is truly spring. It won't be long until a modest tilt in the jet stream will bring us all the relief we are so looking for. And when it does get warm spring showers will bring May flowers and then we'll have something else to complain about.

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