Friday, April 15, 2016

Sad News, Happy News

 Alas, this nest that an Osprey pair built larger every year was toppled last week, along with the snag that held it.

Longtime readers of this blog will recall how for years each spring we've enjoyed observing a pair of Ospreys rear their young in a huge nest at Ballston Creek.  But sad to report, when we went to observe them yesterday, we discovered not only that their nest was gone, but the tree-snag that had held it was also gone, blown down by that huge wind that roared through the county last week.  So sad!  I hope their young had not yet hatched.  Lets hope that the pair can build a new nest somewhere else, in time to yet rear a brood this year. A number of the Great Blue Heron nests had also been blown apart, but many still remained, guarded by long-legged sentries, and the nest where we last saw the Great Horned Owl was still intact and now occupied by two fuzzy owlets as well as the parent owl. So not all the news was sad.

Other happier news is that the long stretch of sub-freezing weather appears to be over, replaced this week with beautiful blue-sky days and warm sunshine.  A number of our favorite early-spring wildflowers have responded to this warmth by bursting into bloom, including the Carolina Spring Beauties that yesterday carpeted the woods at the Ballston Creek Preserve. Hundreds and hundreds of them! This is a flower that truly lives up to its name!

Less numerous, but equally stunning in their beauty were the Bloodroot blooms scattered along the roadside near the entrance to the Ballston Creek Preserve.  Can any flower announce "Spring is here!" more stunningly than these radiant blossoms?  So sparkling white they are, with a yellow center that seems to mirror the very sun whose warmth has called them into rising.

Before visiting the Ballston Creek Preserve,  I had spent the morning with my friends in the Thursday Naturalists across the road at Shenantaha Creek Park. There, we walked the beautiful trail that follows this dancing, splashing creek through the woods.

Our destination was a section of trail where a small brook trickles down from shale cliffs, delivering the nutrients needed by some of our earliest blooming wildflowers.

Here we found one of our very few native honeysuckle shrubs, the American Fly Honeysuckle.  Although most of the shrubs we found held still-unopened buds, we did find a couple that dangled the little pairs of yellow trumpets.

There were many other spring flowers not yet in bloom but with swelling buds -- Red Trillium, Early Meadow Rue, Dutchman's Breeches, Toothwort -- and we thought at first that that was true for the many purple stems of Giant Blue Cohosh thrusting up from the forest floor.  But a closer look revealed that some of these stems already held flowers that were open and producing pollen, even though their leaves had not yet unfurled.

Hurray, there were Trout Lilies blooming too!  Although this flower appears to be shy, hiding its face beneath dangling blooms, those yellow trumpets could truly be blaring the happy news that Ta Da!  the wildflower year has begun in earnest!


Uta said...

So happy to see the beautiful flowers out and I shall look for some in the woods today. Glad your on the mend.

The Furry Gnome said...

Great group of those early spring flowers! A couple of weeks and we'll be catching up!

Marie said...

I have never seen that American fly honeysuckle, and the giant blue cohosh is stunning.

Bee Balm Gal said...

I am happy to report that the ospreys have rebuilt their nest ...on a cell phone tower. THAT won't blow down so easily. I only hope they won't all be driven mad by its blinking light.