Photo by Corey Husic

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Some phenology notes for the end of March 2011

Well, for 2011, March is ending by "going out like a lion" as the saying goes, with the return of snowy cold weather over the past week.  Daily, I had been watching for the final small patches of snow to disappear on the top of the Kittatinny Ridge's north face, but when we ended up getting snow a few times last week, there is now still a significant amount left.  There is also snow in the forecast for this week. 

So the onset of signs of spring has slowed, but I have noticed the higher abundance of robins on lawns (and some in flocks in the woods with an occasional phoebe mixed in which is kind of odd), the slow greening of the grass, my cats are beginning to shed, downy woodpeckers are pairing up, and the serviceberry all of a sudden has enlarged flower buds.

The ornamental cherry trees are blooming in Washington D.C., but in southern Monroe County (PA) we have a ways to go.  The buds on my weeping cherry are definitely more prominent and if I brought some branch cuttings into the house in a vase, they would likely open quite quickly.  (Add some forsythia branches and you have a lovely spring bouquet.)  I mentioned previously the gift of cherry trees from Japan to the city of Bethlehem, and, of course, the trees in D.C. have links to Japan as well.  The earliest ones planted were a gift from the mayor of Tokyo in 1912 to promote continued good relationships between the two countries.  It turns out the cherry blossom time in Japan is also an important seasonal attraction (see

While skimming through a book entitled Phenological Research:  Methods for Environmental and Climate Change Analysis last night (Hudson and Keatley, editors, 2010, Springer), I learned that there are records of the dates of cherry tree flowerings in Kyoto, Japan going back to the 9th century!  An interesting (and much less technical) article entitled Climate Change and Cherry Tree Blossom Festivals in Japan can be found at

There are still debates as to the scientific rigor of phenology but the rise in the number of peer-reviewed scientific publications in this area over the past few years is extraordinary and represents the growing acceptance of the importance of this field, especially with respect to understanding the impacts of climate change.  Personally, I hope that the field doesn’t lose the connection to natural history and culture—aspects that are really appealing to me and hopefully to many of the public volunteers working on phenological research projects!

The public significance of paying attention to seasonal changes was reinforced last night when I noticed on the Weather Channel online ( the first spring warnings for fire risk in the southeastern PA counties and the first notice of a high pollen count (from trees) for the state!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Phenology Note: March 27, 2011

Over the past few days, several bird species have arrived in this region or are beginning to move through.  Between now and the beginning of June, thousands of birds will arrive in this region, either searching for a breeding location or passing through on a journey northward to the summer breeding locations.

Eastern Phoebes are the first flycatchers to arrive in the spring.  Although scarce this early in the season, phoebes will become very common by summer.

  Like the phoebes, Tree Swallows have been popping up across the region in the last week.  This male was the first to arrive in Kunkletown, Monroe County this year.  Early "scouts" like this bird, often males, search for potential breeding locations before the majority of the swallows return.

Sure signs of spring are the large flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles that form in early March.  A few weeks after the large flocks, groups of blackbirds such as Rusty Blackbirds (like the one pictured above) begin to form small groups and migrate north.

Rusty Blackbird in flight

American Robins are often said to be a "sign of spring."  Contrary to this common belief, robins are found all year long in most parts of Pennsylvania.  A more accurate sign of spring might be when the robins begin to group up and fly over at night and around dawn.  After sunrise, these flocks often rest and feed in lawns, wet fields, and other open environments.

While many plants such as Skunk Cabbage and Coltsfoot have had flowers for weeks, until this week, these plants seemed to be "stuck" in this phase.  However, several plant species are now starting to grow once again and produce leaves and flowers.

 Previous posts in this blog have showed the enlarging buds of Red Maple trees.  Today, the first buds "burst" and parts of the flower can now be seen.

The odd flowers of Skunk Cabbage (left) are beginning to die, but the leaves (right) are starting to emerge from the damp ground.

The early leaves of this woodland violet can be seen poking through the wet ground near a wooded spring.

Phenology Project Partners

Please take a look at our project partners by clicking the "Project Partners" tab at the top of the page.

Some project news coverage!

Thanks to Dennis "Pap" Knauss (a great contributor of observations to this project) and Kent Jackson (staff writer for the Standard Speaker) for this story on phenology:

This was a much nicer surprise this week than the snow and return to winter-like conditions!

It really is spring!

Spring rarely comes gradually and progresses daily toward summer. Instead, it comes in fits and starts, and then falls back to winter-like conditions. We have been in one of those “back to winter periods” here in eastern Pennsylvania for the past week. On March 17 and 18 the temperatures soared well into the 60s in northern Lehigh County and southern Carbon County. Two days later, the ground was covered with snow, and the temperature has barely been above 40ºF since then.

Many people wonder what birds like American Robins do when this happens. They congregate in warmer places, where perhaps they can still find invertebrate prey where the sun is warming the soil, but mostly they rely on their emergency rations of sumac berries.

American Robin eating Sumac berries. Photo by Dave Levandusky

All of the plant and insect signs of springs went on hold with the deep freeze. The Milbert’s Tortoiseshells went back into their dormant state and the Red Maple buds stopped swelling. The frogs went back into hiding as well, but there were some signs of spring noted this week in spite of the cold. These had to do with migratory birds.

We heard the first Phoebes singing at Lehigh Gap Nature Center on March 21. These are the first flycatchers to migrate north each spring and usually first arrive in March.

On March 24, after an overnight low in the teens and a temperature reaching about 25ºF by 9:00 a.m., I was surprised to see two Tree Swallows flying around at Lehigh Gap. Each year, a few early Tree Swallows appear, and then disappear again for a time. These are often called “scouts” since they precede the main migration of Tree Swallows.

The migration of birds, more dependent on lengthening daylight hours than on temperature, continued to bring new species. Saturday morning, March 26, we saw the first Osprey of the season hovering over the Lehigh River, just outside the Osprey House, our visitor and education center. While the Tree Swallow scouts certainly had little in the way of flying insect food with a temperature of 25ºF, as long as the water in the river is not frozen, the Osprey can catch fish.

Osprey Photo by D. Levandusky

So the birds are telling us it really is spring. Now it is time for the thermometer to agree!

Dan Kunkle

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Observations at the end of winter (astronomically)

Given that it was in the 70’s on March 18th, my students and I decided that rather than simply talking about the value of nature, we should explore the quality of the greenspaces in Bethlehem near the historic district and check on some phonological signs as we walked.

The maple trees buds were just about to burst into flowers as were the forsythia.  Around the historic homes tucked in around the campus of Moravian Academy, the hellebores were in full bloom.  These lovely plants also referred to as 'Christmas Rose' or 'Lenten Rose' sometimes bloom in winter.  This year, they may actually be a bit late since many gardens were covered with snow longer than usual.  You can learn more about this plant at

In disturbed areas it was easy to see why non-natives (weeds and invasive species) have an advantage—they are among the first things to leaf out in spring (and the last to lose their leaves in fall).  In these areas on Friday, the only green things to be seen were various weed plants that were already several inches tall, leaf buds on the invasive Autumn or Russian Olive shrubs (I couldn’t yet tell which was which), and basal leaves that had emerged around bramble canes.  Dandelions were also blooming in nearby grassy areas.  I did notice that some violet plants had emerged along the edges of pathways and sidewalks.

Behind the library, the first cherry blossoms were open and these trees should explode into full bloom during this next week.  The Magnolia trees had large flower buds and won’t be far behind. 

Washington D.C. is famous for its spring cherry blossoms on trees that were gifts from Japan in 1912.  Many of us cannot get down to the D.C. area to view this spectacular site, but we have our own mini version of this beauty when the plantings around the library bloom.  Bethlehem has a Japanese city Tondabayashi (  Yoshinaga Sakon, one of Japan's outstanding landscape architects, gave Bethlehem a gift that included a tea house and garden – named the Garden of Serenity which is on the west side of the library.  It is a bit early for the floral display, but we paused at the site to reflect on all that has been happening in Japan.  Just this week, a group of exchange students from Japan arrived in Bethlehem; you are likely to see them around town enjoying our area.  If you do, be sure to welcome them.

After meandering through God’s Acre, a historic cemetery dating back to the 1740’s with magnificent trees (this is an important stop-over for migrating birds), we walked down to the historic district along the Monocacy Creek.  The color appearing in the weeping willow branches was very obvious and hundreds of small insects had just hatched in one of the newer Bethlehem Garden Club plots.  Birds could be heard singing in both historic areas.  The students and I talked about the value of urban greenspaces and the important wildlife corridors, especially along the Lehigh River and various creeks that exist in the area.  Such corridors have great ecological value especially during times of migration and over the next two months, you will very likely encounter a lot of migrating birds in these areas if you are out walking.

Later that day, at home in Kunkletown, I took advantage of the fact that daylight lasts longer now and went for a walk.  Being farther north and at higher elevation than in the Lehigh Valley, plants are not as far along in their budding.  The maple buds are swelling and red, but not nearly as close to flowering as they are in the city.

Red Maple flower buds -- March 20, 2011 (Photo by Corey Husic)
You can compare the above maple flower bud picture with the one posted on this blog on February 20th; it is from the same tree.

Previously, we had only heard spring peepers down the ridge from us near some vernal pools.  On Friday, however, I heard them around our property at the top of the ridge and coming from the quarry ponds north of us.  Others sent reports saying that they were singing near the Buckwa Creek.

Along the edge of wooded areas, I saw patches of moss with sporophytes.  These seem to have emerged out of nowhere as I hadn’t noticed them earlier in the week.  Most people, including this plant biochemist, aren’t so familiar with the details of the life cycle of mosses.  I do know that different species will have sporophytes push upward at different times of the year after fertilization, so this observation isn’t necessarily a sign of spring.  For this particular species (shown below - I don't know how to identify mosses), however, it was the right time of year.
Some photos of the moss with its sphorophytes (Photos by H. David Husic)

As I was about to come out of the wooded area of our property, a small bluish butterfly flew by me.  It took me a second, but I realized that this was the first sighting of the spring azure, one of our species of interest for the phenology project.

Back in the yard, I noticed that the Pachysandra is just beginning to bloom.

Pachysandra flower buds (Photo by H. David Husic)
The Crocuses are now in bloom throughout the yard.  Checking some of the garden beds, I noticed that the columbine, bleeding heart, and rhubarb plants have begun to emerge.  Tiny green buds are now evident on some of the lilacs (I have several varieties).  My hellebores are just starting to show flower buds.

Hellebore flower buds emerging (Photo by Corey Husic)
The number of Mourning Doves around has risen dramatically and there are singing House Finches and Northern Cardinals, but we don’t yet have phoebes on our property.

I have been getting reports of people seeing their first groundhogs of the season this week.  I haven’t spotted any yet.  This does not make me sad, since as a gardener, I have a long-running battle with this pest! 
My son has already seen deer ticks, sigh.  My husband said he saw yellow jackets while visiting his mother yesterday in Warminster, PA.  Not all signs of spring are welcome!
However, my son Corey has also seen bees on the crocus flowers – so spring pollination has begun.  I believe that he will have a post on this.

It is time to clean out the hummingbird feeders.  The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are in North Carolina this week and it won’t be long before some are spotted in this area checking out yards that seem attractive for their friends and family.

Astronomy, spring, and poetic inspiration

Last night, those of us in eastern PA had clear skies and a wonderful opportunity to witness a “super full moon” – since the moon was both full and at the closest in its orbit to the Earth (perigee).  Who knew?  This rare event happens about every 18 years.  You can learn more about the science details at  The moon really did look larger and was incredibly bright.

The Supermoon of March 19, 2011 (Photo by H. David Husic)
As if one major astronomical event this weekend isn’t enough, this evening we will welcome in the vernal or spring equinox.  (See an explanation at

These events have been associated with mythology, astrological predictions, fears of natural disasters (the super full moon), and celebration of fertility and renewal (the vernal equinox).  For me, the equinox is a time to think of gardening and longer days – even if there is snow in the forecast for tonight and other days this week and I saw people skiing at Blue Mountain yesterday!

Cycles of nature are reflected in a variety of historical records, but also appear in poetry and folklore.  This is noted on the Lakeshore Nature Preserve website from the University of Wisconsin which includes quite a bit of information about phenology:

I was searching around for examples of spring poems and noted yesterday that most refer to April, May and even June.  Yet around here, the signs of spring in nature begin much earlier (but can be rather sporadic). 

The English poet Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837 – 1909) talks about the transition from winter to spring in the first chorus of the long poem Atalanta in Calydon (1865) set in Ancient Greece:
For winter's rains and ruins are over,
And all the season of snows and sins;
The days dividing lover and lover,
The light that loses, the night that wins;
And time remembered is grief forgotten,
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins.

Phenology is a source of inspiration to some as seen in the Phenology and Place in New Vrindaban blog: and Pinkie’s Parlour (I didn’t name this):

And finally, another spring poem by Ellen Ni Bheachain (October 2nd 1962 / Dublin Ireland;;

The First Signs of Spring

The first signs of spring bring smiles and joy to us all,

Its the beginning of nature and the birth of the new season,

It brings life and renewal back to the cold plains,

Springing buds that will flourish,

Then open in full bloom for summer,

The young of the cattle and the spring of the lamb,

Are all the signs of spring,

With the snow and freeze temperatures,

Turning into cool breezes,

And clear sunny winds blowing,

Knowing its spring again,

The mundane feelings of winter blues,

Start to diminish in our seasonal affective winter faces,

As the sun shines a bit warmer,

So does the color of our face glow brighter,

And all show well in the spring of their steps,

As even the old can get out some more,

Now spring has arrived with safer passage,

Spring is also a time to clear out,

The unwanted items in our homes as we spring clean,

Then there the things to forget or put in the past,

Is in the spring cleaning of our thinking,

To clear our thinking better for a clearer future,

Then there's the renewal of forgiving,

As we forgive and forget,

Forgiving to start anew,

Is the starting again,

Or re birthing the past,

With a new attitude to help,

Its foundations this time round stronger,


Is the time to see how it all begins,

For what is way beneath the ground or hibernating,

In the spring shows itself and nature in it splendor,

For what decays and withers,

The spring shows its second coming,

From what lay beneath the ground all winter,

Springs renews in growth,

And mother nature shows her splendor,

Come the first signs of spring,

We all start feeling somewhat better.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Phenology - poetry style

While preparing a class discussion on nature and well-being, I was skimming through Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods and came across the excerpt below written by Wendell Berry.  He is lamenting the disconnect between children and nature.  One of my goals for this phenology project is to renew an interest in the seasonal changes by having people more closely observe their natural surroundings.

 Our children no longer learn how to read

the great Book of Nature

from their own direct experience or how to interact creatively

With the seasonal transformations of the planet.

They seldom learn where their water comes from or where it goes.

We no longer coordinate our human celebration with

the great liturgy of the heavens.

Later in the book is an excerpt from Henry David Thoreau: 

Each new year is a surprise to us.

We find that we had virtually forgotten the note of each bird,

and when we hear it again, it is remembered like a dream,

reminding us of a previous state of existence…

The voice of nature is always encouraging.

Milbert's Tortoiseshell

Addendum to March 17 sightings. I almost forget to report a sighting from yesterday afternoon at Lehigh Gap Nature Center, Lehigh County, PA. On the sunny south side of the Tannery building, I spotted a Milbert's Trotoiseshell butterfly, the first of the season here. I was unable to get a photo.

Be watching for tree flower and leaf buds and phoebes!

As promised!

A better image of the aspen flower (fuzzy ones) and terminal leaf bud
(Photos by H. David Husic on 3/17/11)

At this stage, the buds remind me of paint brush tips!
Be looking for the reddish colored buds of maple flowers soon!

Yesterday, there were reports of people seeing and hearing the first Eastern Phoebes in the state for 2011. These are the earliest flycatchers to return to the area and one of my favorite birds.  Their characteristic emphatic call is their name ("phee bee") and their behaviors of tail wagging and flying out to catch insects and returning to the same perch are fun to watch.

Eastern Phoebe (Photo by John Wasilosky)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Phenology Note: March 17, 2011

Today, in Northampton County, I saw my first Eastern Comma butterfly of the year.  This species is often very active once the temperatures reach into the 60s.  Commas are often abundant in sunny wooded areas where they can be found on tree trunks especially near areas of leaking sap.

March 17 Sightings

The temperatures soared into the 60s today and the sun actually felt hot. At the Lehigh Gap Nature Center in northern Lehigh County, PA, I noted several new signs of spring. As I walked along the pond at the Osprey House several frogs jumped from the banks into the pond. I was not able to identify them for sure, but they were either bullfrogs or green frogs out sunning themselves on the bank on the north side of the pond.

I also noted that the coltsfoot on our driveway bloomed today. Here's a photo of some of the blooms. The name coltsfoot comes from the leaves that will grow later at the base of the flower stalk, but for now, the blossoms emerge straight from the roots without any above ground plant to support them.

Coltsfoot (photo by D. Kunkle)
In addition, I heard a report from across the river that a person working there spotted numerous Bald Eagles migrating through the Gap today. Happy St. Patrick's Day and happy Spring.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

March 16th Phenology Notes

Well I had the good fortune to travel to Costa Rica last week.  It is always a wonderful place to visit because of the natural beauty, the wonderful people, the good food (especially the tropical fruit), and, of course, the amazing birds.  Besides seeing many wonderful tropical residents, we also saw a number of neotropical migrants that will make their way through Pennsylvania later this spring.  This included several warbler species like American Redstarts, and Chestnut-sided, Black-and-white, Blackburnian, Tennessee, and Golden-winged Warblers that were all still enjoying the hot temperatures.

I returned to PA to learn that there had been flooding rains and I was just in time to lose an hour of sleep as we turned our clocks ahead.  Both of these are signs of spring.  But there are many other signs as well.  I have received many reports of wood frogs and spring peepers, and heard that there had been sightings of salamanders during the heavy rains last week. 

Woodcocks are heard every evening in our field.  A pair of mallard ducks have returned to our small pond which lost its ice cover sometime while I was away.  The snowdrops and aconites seem to have multiplied in my gardens, but I am also seeing leaves of daffodils, tulips, day lilies, honeysuckle, tansy, and Artemsia.  Even my miniature rose (near the house) has leaves emerging.

There is a yellow color in the stems of the weeping willow and in the forsythia branches.  Our aspen (Populus sp.) are full of buds that look like pussy willows at first.  These will soon turn to flowers borne in long catkins. 

Aspen "fuzzy" buds that will soon be catkins
(I will try to get a better picture tomorrow when the light is better)

The same aspen terminal branch (different exposure) showing leaf buds
Aspens are in the family Salicaceae which also includes the genus Salix (willows) and I had never before realized how similar the early flower buds were to what I called "pussy willows" as a child.  Spring comes much later in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but picking a "bouquet" of pussy willow branches to bring inside was a sure sign that the long winter was coming to an end.

Aspen - the flower buds are new quite obvious in the profile against the late day sky
Members of the Salicaceae plant family produce salicylic acid which can be extracted from the bark (e.g. of willows).  It is a hormone involved in plant growth and development, physiology, and resistance to pathogens.  Extracts of willow bark were long ago identified as a pain reliever and fever reducer; we now know the active ingredient is salicylic acid.  This led to the commercial product of a related compound (acetylsalicylic acid) in what we know as aspirin--first produced by the Bayer Company in the late 1800's.  But Hippocrates wrote about this plant-based treatment back in the 5th century B.C.!

Salicaceae trees are an important food source for the caterpillars of Viceroy butterflies (the ones that look somewhat like Monarchs).  These caterpillars sequester the salicylic acid in their bodies making them bitter and not a particular good food source for predators which can end up with upset stomachs! 

With predictions of temperatures in the 60’s for the next few days, be prepared for many more signs of spring.

If you are interested in seeing where some of our species of interest are showing up, I recommend the website for the Journey North project  You can see the current location (and northward movement) of things like Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Robins (first sightings, singing and waves), earthworms, over-wintering Monarch butterflies, Red-winged Blackbirds,and Barn Swallows.  Clearly from the maps (and the reports you have been sending me) the robins and blackbirds have already come to our state!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Phenology Note: March 12, 2011

After the heavy rains in the past week, amphibians have been on the move.  Last night, I heard Spring Peepers for the first time this year.  Today, several Wood Frogs were clucking from a vernal pool in the same area.  Hearing these vocal frogs is a sure sign that other vernal pool species including Spotted Salamanders have migrated or are migrating to the pools.

 Spring Peeper (singing)--although difficult to actually find among blades of grass and sedges, it is hard to miss the sound of a group of calling peepers.

Wood Frog--these guys are already in the pools so keep an eye (and an ear) out

Spotted Salamander--although I have not yet seen one of these yet this year, it is likely that they are already in vernal pools

As we approach spring, large geese flocks head north.  Today I witnessed several large flocks of Canada and Snow Geese.

With the relatively warm temperatures, butterflies have emerged!  I found my first butterfly of the year today, a Mourning Cloak that was wandering through the woods.  I also saw other insects such as stoneflies, moths, and green stinkbugs flying around during the warmest portion of the day.

 Mourning Cloak--usually one of the earliest butterflies of spring

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Phenology Note: March 5, 2011

As the evenings become warmer, be sure to listen for the American Woodcock, one of the species of special interest to the Eastern Pennsylvania Phenology Project.  They most often begin calling just after sunset.

Listen to a recording of this bird here:

If you here this sound, please send the observation information to

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Miscellaneous phenological notes from around the region

From Lehigh Township on 2/17/11:
  • 4 bluebirds observed scouting nesting sites in Lehigh Township - first to return
  • Flock of 37 robins observed in field in Lehigh Township and 2 smaller flocks in Northampton County
  • First crocus - also in Lehigh Township
Farther north on 2/17/11:
  • Turkey Vultures are showing up in Shickshinny
  • Red-winged Blackbird in White Haven

  • Immature and adult Bald Eagles in Luzerne County

  • Turkey and Black Vultures in Luzerne County
  • The northern counties are reporting snowbirds and redpolls but also gray squirrel activity
  • The Dark-eyed Juncos are still around in Wilkes Barre
I had been seeing bluebirds and robins in southern Monroe County (Eldred Township) and on 3/2/11 the bluebirds sitting on the horse fences were singing.

From out and about on 3/3/11:
  • The first crocus flower buds in Kunkletown (southwest facing exposure near the house).  I was surprised by these!
  • A lot of grackles on wires and flying around near the quarry off Airport Road a few miles north of the airport
  • Large flocks of Canada and snow geese flying every which way in Northampton County and southern Monroe County

The first crocus flower buds of the season in Kunketown -
unfortunately surrounded by new garlic mustard leaves.  With spring
comes weeding and invasives removal!   (Photo by H.David Husic)

I love the buttery color of this variety of crocus
(Photo by H. David Husic)
A fellow Master Gardener from Monroe County (Effort) told me about her gardening blog today that has lots of phenological data embedded in it along with wonderful images:  Her March 2nd posting includes snowdrops (not a surprise) but also Hellebore buds!

Dark-eyed Junco (Photo by  John Wasilosky)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Each morning starts for me with a walk at dawn with my two Labrador Retrievers. The walk goes about three miles through forests, fields, and a residential area. In the past week, the signs of spring have been slowly accumulating.

Last Wednesday, February 23, with the temperature a bone chilling 13 degrees produced a surprising sign -- Northern Cardinals singing on territories in the residential area. Monday at Lehigh Gap we saw three adult Bald Eagles along the Lehigh River, most likely northbound migrants. Yesterday, the high-flying flocks of Canada Geese with the vs pointed north were another sign. This morning, the birds gave me more cause for anticipation of warmer weather (in spite of the 19 degree temperature).

It was clear as the sun began to rise this morning and the birds were in full song. I heard many of our year-round residents in full song including Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, House Finch, Blue Jay, and Carolina Wren. One new sound was the "whinnying" call of several American Robins. But then as I walked along the farm lane, I heard an almost imperceptible sound at first, then the unmistakable "Conk-la-ree" songs of Red-winged Blackbirds spaced evenly around the fence rows surrounding the field I was walking through. When I reached the barn at the end of the lane, a handsome male Red-wing flew into a Butternut tree and sang his heart out.

As I returned home, one last bird gave me a clue to spring's proximity. Eastern Bluebirds, just two days ago appearing in my yard in a flock, with some singing, were today spread our in various places, seemingly dividing up into territories, with each one singing.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy March 1st

I don't know if January or February is my least favorite month.  But good riddance, both are gone.  March 2011 came in like a lamb; it was a pretty and relatively mild day after a lot of rain yesterday.

Throughout the Lehigh Valley and even north of the Kittatinny Ridge, large flocks of snow geese were flying today.  I also saw a few larger groups of Robins (10 or so) on the now-exposed lawns and one flock of blackbirds (although I couldn’t tell which types were in the mix since I was driving).

American Robin (Photo by John Wasilowsky)

The ice on the local ponds is receding and it won’t  be long until we see the flower buds on spicebush.

Spicebush (Photo by Dan Kunkle)