Yesterday at Green Lane (Montgomery County), quite a few birders were gathered to see some unusual species (a Eurasian Widgeon and a Barnacle Goose). A lot of snow geese were on the water and I happened to notice that the ice on the reservoir was clearing.
Snow geese are beginning to return north to their arctic breeding grounds. You can see a map of their major migration routes at http://www.paulnoll.com/Oregon/Birds/migrate-Snow-Geese.html. We are blessed in eastern Pennsylvania to see these beautiful birds this time of year in farm fields and in bodies of water. One of the most spectacular places to see large congregations of these birds (along with Tundra Swans) is the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lebanon and Lancaster Counties. There is some information about this species and Middle Creek at the PA Department of Environmental Protection site: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/middle_creek/13905
On March 5th, Jacobsburg State Park (http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/Calendar/view_event.asp?CalendarID=17645&Location=List), the Lehigh Gap Nature Center (www.lgnc.org), and the Lehigh Valley Audubon Society (http://www.lehigh.edu/~bcm0/lvas/index.html) are all leading trips to Middle Creek.
As my son and I returned to Kunkletown after our excursion to Green Lane yesterday, we saw the first blooms of Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) on the south side of the Kittatinny Ridge. Alas, the first leaves of the invasive species Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) were also apparent. This plant is on the “Least Wanted” list of the Plant Conservation Alliance’s Alien Plant Working Group; you can find out more at http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/alpe1.htm. A typical feature of invasive plants is their ability to get a jump start on the growing season – being one of the earliest to emerge from the ground. In the case of invasive shrubs, they will be among the first to leaf out. Invasive species have many other competitive advantages that will likely be discussed in future posts. Coltsfoot is a plant that readily shows up in disturbed places, is a very early plant to sprout as winter gives way to spring, and is considered by many to be another invasive species (see http://www.invasive.org/browse/subinfo.cfm?sub=6564 ).
My husband and I returned to the spot later in the afternoon. Below are some pictures taken yesterday of Coltsfoot and Garlic Mustard leaves that had recently emerged.
|Coltsfoot flowers emerging from the leaf litter (Photo by H. David Husic)|
|A flower and buds of Coltsfoot (Photo credit: H. David Husic)|
|The sunny bright flowers of Coltsfoot close-up (Photo by H. David Husic)|
|Garlic Mustard leaves - the first of the season|
(Photo by H. David Husic)
If you have creeping Sedum spurium plants in your garden you may also see that reddish leaves of this succulent have also begun to bud out (at least in Kunkletown).