Nature Notes by Bonnie Dundas
Just when the first snowdrop popped up, it was buried by two snowstorms. I imagine the mountains were doing happy dances with this bonus snow coming at the weekend and in time for spring break. There is always a silver lining! Our poor feeder birds were outmuscled by a hoard of common grackles that flew in and cleaned up every morsel I had put out. More song sparrows are showing up daily with their beautiful breeding colors and a barred owl is visiting occasionally during the middle of the day. We have mallards and Canada geese on the pond and red-winged blackbirds in the swamp. Hoa in Manchester sent me pictures of the many red-wings in the trees and on the ground surrounding her property. There are so many things to look forward to seeing in the natural world. It’s exciting because spring is finally arriving, the weather is getting warmer (yeah!), a million shades of green will spread out before us, and our summer birds will be back and singing. To include all the things to anticipate, I would have to ask Liz for a double- spread in the paper! I know that turkey vultures and American woodcock are back. We can look for phoebes, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, brown-headed cowbirds, wood ducks, chipping sparrows, field sparrows, brown thrashers, hermit thrushes, rufous-sided towhees, great blue herons, solitary sandpipers, spotted sandpipers, early warblers, and so many more. So clean your binoculars, get out your bird guides and get ready. Clean up your birdhouses for early nesters and scrub out your birdbaths.
Shadbush, bloodroot, hepaticas, violets, coltsfoot, trillium, and marsh marigolds all bloom in April. Again, there are too many to try to name them all. Spring peepers and other frogs and American toads sing in April. Turtles emerge from the bottom of ponds to sun on logs and rocks. We see fish soon after the ice goes out on the pond. So much to see in every direction!
Barb in Bennington called early in March to report large numbers of robins. Garry from Rupert also called to report large numbers of turkeys. Bob from Northfield called to report very low numbers of chickadees. The 2017/18 Christmas Bird Count did find decreased numbers of chickadees, but their numbers seem to be rebounding. We saw the last super moon of the year on one of the few clear nights of this winter. Look for the Full Pink Moon on the 19th; it is named for wild ground phlox which blooms in April. At this same time, many of us will be celebrating Passover and Easter. Readers can reach me at 802-447-7433 or at [email protected] to share sightings and thoughts.