Monday, April 13, 2015

Is It Spring Yet?

Oh boy, it sure IS!  Well over 70 degrees today, with a radiant blue sky from horizon to horizon!  And yesterday was almost as lovely, when my friend Sue and I walked on Bog Meadow Nature Trail just outside Saratoga Springs.  What a day to be out, with the forest floor finally free of snow, and the little brooks cheerfully tumbling down every hillside!

Aside from hundreds of Skunk Cabbage spathes and their greening leaves, we didn't find any spring flowers in bloom at Bog Meadow yesterday.  But we did see our first snake of the season -- this rusty-brown fellow slithering away as fast as it could, as we chased after, cameras clicking.

The snake darted into a sedge tussock and then stopped dead, with just its head protruding.  We were quite puzzled about what this snake could be, since we'd never seen one quite this color before.  But since its skin matched the color of the mud in the bottom of some brooks, we posited that perhaps this was simply a mud-stained Garter Snake.  One of our snake-expert friends, John Vanek, later suggested the same.

We were also delighted to see both species of early-spring butterflies, the Eastern Comma and the Mourning Cloak, wafting through the sunlit woods and teasing us by briefly landing just out of focal range for our cameras.  I'm sharing one of my file photos of a Mourning Cloak, just to document its presence on this date, and also to share my delight in seeing this gorgeous creature on this lovely sun-warmed day.

Today was even more spring-like than yesterday, so I got started early to make the rounds of some of my favorite nature spots.  First stop was the Skidmore woods, where I was astounded to find a single Hepatica plant with its flowers already opened. (The leaves had wintered over under the snow.)

This was the only blooming Hepatica I found in an acres-wide search, but one was enough for me to celebrate the start of their blooming season.  In a week, we will find them EVERYwhere!

My next stop was the Orra Phelps Preserve in Wilton,  where the creeks that had been ice-covered only a week before were now dancing and sparkling and free of all ice.

I didn't really believe I would find Snow Trillium today, since I had checked on them only 3 days ago and found not even a leaf tip showing.  But lo and behold, there they were, these darling little flowers that Orra herself must have planted here, since New York is far north of their native range.  This trillium blooms so suddenly after emerging, I wonder if their flowers are already fully formed before they emerge from the ground.

Since the day was still young, I next headed north to Mud Pond at Moreau, which was dazzling blue under a cloudless sky.  There were many waterfowl out on the choppy waters, but much too far away for my camera to capture their image.  A birder I encountered on the path informed me that there were Hooded Mergansers and Wood Ducks among the Mallards and Canada Geese out there.

I walked along the water's edge, hoping to spy some Spotted Newts or Whirligig Beetles or maybe some frog or toad tadpoles.  Those I did not see, but what a nice surprise to see this Painted Turtle swimming along close to shore, newly emerged from a winter spent under the mud.

So, a glorious day, indeed!  And the Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs were celebrating this spring-warm weather as well, as this video I took in the Skidmore woods today can attest.


Anonymous said...

very nice

catharus said...

Lovely! I can so feel the warmth and regeneration! 'Done some similar treks myself in my neck of the woods. Some places already with lots of hepatica and even dutchman's breeches!

The Furry Gnome said...

Time to get out there exploring, finally! Things do come up so fast once the snow is gone and the temperature is warm. Looks like you had a beautiful day.

threecollie said...

Sigh.....the most wonderful time of the year. You are way ahead of us here, but we did hear peepers last night while walking out to our little pond. Wonderful.

Woody Meristem said...

Yes, spring comes on quickly and things will happen in a rush now.