Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spring Edges In!

Heat wave!  Well, not really.  But the temps have edged up into the 40s, even bumping into the 50s the past few days.  And yesterday the sun shone brightly all day long.  Lovely!  I hurried over to Mud Pond at Moreau yesterday, hoping that that warming sun might have melted a couple of feet of ice along the northern shore. Maybe I'd find some Spotted Newts basking just under the surface. Nope.  Not yet.  The pond was still frozen shore to shore, but it looked like it might be softening around the edges.  Especially around the beaver lodge.

It was still rather difficult to make my way around the pond.  The packed-down trails were slippery and post-holed, and the snow was still shin-deep in the woods, making progress slow and fatiguing.  So I didn't stay very long.

I did linger, however, to examine nearly all the American Hazelnut shrubs along the powerline, hunting for the tiny red female flowers that look like miniature Sea Anemones, hardly bigger than the head of a pin.   But no, too early yet, even though the male catkins look as if they have begun to grow longer in preparation for shedding their pollen.

At least my craving for color was not disappointed, thanks to this pretty little cluster of Green Shield Lichen spreading its verdigris ruffles right next to a bright-orange dot of a tiny fungus that had somehow kept its color through the winter.

And there is no flower (well, maybe the Cardinal Flower) that can out-red the red of this tiny Cladonia lichen's fruiting bodies. And bless their hearts, they gift us with their colorful beauty all year long, unfading even under the snow.

Tuesday, April 1:  Today dawned clear and bright and mild, although clouds had covered the sky by the time I got outdoors after lunch.  I had heard reports that the Osprey pair had returned to the nest they have built on a telephone pole along busy Rte. 4 between Schuylerville and Ft. Edward.  So I grabbed my binoculars and crossed over the Hudson to Washington County.

And there they were!  Standing right up on the edge of their nest, seemingly undisturbed by the traffic racing by, or even more surprisingly, by the commotion going on all around them. There were growling bulldozers shoving rocks and dirt, construction crews shouting to one another, and clanking cranes towering into the sky, as repair work proceeded on the Champlain Canal that runs directly alongside the road at this point.  With all that racket, I was able to creep quite close to the nest without the Ospreys flying away.

What a majestic sight!

The Champlain Canal is mostly drained for the winter, and whatever water remained was still frozen solid.  I crossed over the canal on my way to Ft. Miller, a Revolutionary War-era village on the banks of the Hudson River.

Here at Ft. Miller, the Hudson was wide open and clear of ice, its shimmering waters teeming with waterfowl.  As I stood on the banks,  many flocks of Canada Geese came streaming north over the river, their musical calls filling the air.

Many geese had already landed to rest and feed along the shore.  Mixed in with the geese were several kinds of ducks, mostly American Mergansers, but I think I saw some Ring-necked Ducks as well.  My birder friends have reported seeing some quite unusual species this year, but even with my binoculars I could not see the ducks well enough to identify them for sure.  Many would dive, the very moment I focused my lenses on them.  So I focused instead on the beauty of this landscape with deep red barn, shimmering reflections, and gently rolling hills.

Here are some of the colorful creatures I sighted on my way home,  rowing crews plying the waters of Fish Creek near Saratoga.  I believe that's their coach in the motorboat.  When I came by here only a week or so ago, the creek was still solidly frozen.  All this open water means that spring must be here for sure.  About time!


The Furry Gnome said...

It's just wonderful to get out and about!

Jens Zorn said...

Was that platform built for the purpose of entoiciong the ospreys to nest there?

Great photos, as usual!

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Yes, Furry, wonderful to get out and about, especially without snowshoes! And I thank my lucky stars every day that I have so many wonderful places to visit so close to my home. As do you, to judge from your beautiful blog, which my readers can access directly by clicking on your name.

Jens, I do believe that platform was built especially for the ospreys, although the birds might have chosen the spot before the platform was built. This area along the canal is very near to grasslands that are nationally recognized as an "Important Birding Area," so there are many dedicated birders who visit this area.

Raining Iguanas said...

What a colorful and enjoyable post. I love the photo of the barn on the river. Awesome.