- Wood Thrush (also going over Smith Gap on the Kittatinny Ridge)
- Blue-winged warbler
- Yellow Warbler (along Lower Smith Gap Road)
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
Over the past few weeks, a male kestrel has been seen hunting over our field and perched in snags and trees along the edges of the field. This past weekend, perhaps a gift for Earth Day weekend, a female appeared. It would be great to have a breeding pair -- a first on our property since we moved here in 1995. This species is in decline in the eastern U.S., so this would be a good sign.
On April 24th, the first Black-and-white Warblers and Ovenbirds appeared on our property. The Black-and-whites show up along the edges of the woods and in our fruit trees while the Ovenbirds are in the forest.
|Ovenbird (Photo by Corey Husic)|
The Field Sparrows, Eastern Towhees, Chipping Sparrows, House Finches and Goldfinches have been singing away today - joining the Robins, Cardinals, Phoebes, Crows, Tree Swallows, etc. I saw barn swallows flying around and the Ruby-throated Hummingbird has been hanging around for a few days now. (I first heard of one spotted in the Lehigh Valley - south of Easton on April 15th.) The American Toads have been noisy all day as well.
Last fall when I brought in some plants that I store indoors for the winter, an unexpected guest came along for the ride - a Northern Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor). He basically hibernated in the dirt all winter, sometimes opening his eyes when we watered the plant! Over the weekend, Corey heard the treefrogs calling so he decided it was time to release our basement dweller. He loved the warm humid weather and rain.
|Our winter basement inhabitant (Photo by H. David Husic)|
The violets are now in bloom all around the yard having first bloomed on April 22nd.
On April 24th, the first Red Maple leaves were spotted (although still small) and the large Serviceberrys in the woods showed their first flowers and today, a day later, they appear to be in full bloom. Our young Serviceberry planted near one of our native plant gardens is a bit farther behind. The leaves are also starting to appear.
|Amelanchier sp. flower buds and first leaves|
At their peak, I can look out at the Kittatinny Ridge from our deck and see the white "clouds" of flowers scattered along the ridge. This is not the case yet on the north side of the mountain.
Below are some additional pictures of our yard today, April 25th.
|Our weeping cherry. You can't hear them, but hundreds of bees and wasps are buzzing around the flowers.|
|The Solomon's Seal are up about 8 inches.|
|The hostas are up to around 5 inches.|
|The forsythia are reaching their peak and the spirea are getting leaves. No sign of buds on the sour cherry yet.|
|While many daffodils began to bloom some time ago, these peach colored ones are later blooming.|
|Close-up of the weeping cherry flowers.|
I love this time of year!
|Spring green in Kunkletown, PA on April 25th. Notice the weeping willow and aspen.|
Judy’s pictures from the 13th show that the spicebush was about in full bloom. From the weekend before (April 10th) a student had sent me a picture of spicebush from along the
Friday, April 22, 2011
April 20, 2011:
- large push of raptors including Broad-winged and Red-shouldered Hawks and several Ospreys
- first Northern Rough-winged Swallow of year; also large numbers of Tree and Barn Swallows
- first Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
- first Common Green Darner
- first Ruby-throated Hummingbird
- first Palm Warbler
- leaves emerging on native Amelanchier and Viburnum shrubs
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) was the first one I saw. It was blooming in the forest inside our deer exclosure on the north slope of the Kittatinny Ridge in southern Carbon County, PA.
Bloodroot is also blooming in our habitat garden, where it is well established.
Rue anemone (Anemonella thalictroides) was also in bloom near the bloodroot.
In our bog garden, Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) was also beginning to bloom.
In addition, our locally common, Pennsylvania endangered Wild Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra eximia) are beginning to bloom all over the refuge. This specimen is in our rock garden wall.
Finally, the tree swallows are pairing up and selecting nest boxes. They will be nesting very soon.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
This was followed closely by a Mourning Cloak and a dozen or more of these bees. Spring was definitely in the air today.
Last Sunday (April 10), Dave Levandusky took this photo of a Palm Warbler at the Kittatinny Ponds at Lehigh Gap Nature Center. This is usually the first warbler species to be seen this far north in spring.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Trailing-arbutus is a creeping evergreen shrub with leathery leaves. It flowers in early spring, before leaf out on the trees. Its blossoms are ½” wide tubular flower with spreading petals. The flowers often occur in small clusters and are quite fragrant (although I can no longer seem to smell things like this very well).
Trailing-arbutus leaves and blossom
Nearby I found another favorite – Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens), another creeping vine-like shrub. It also has evergreen leaves that are reddish this time of year, and some of the bright red berries are still hanging from the plants. I remember my grandfather showing me these and encouraging me to taste the waxy berries in fall when their teaberry taste was at its peak.
And right next to that, I found a patch of Hair-cap moss with the sporophyte stages that will form the capsules full of spores growing on top of the green moss plants.
I then went to check on the spicebush in a nearby hollow and found that the buds are swelling and will open soon. With 80º temperatures predicted for tomorrow, these will be bursting soon.
You can see the large migration imagery in the center of Pennsylvania. The radar images shows a coastal storm that is now over New England.
|Amelanchier sp. (Photo by Ian Kindle)|
. This is a plant that needs ants to open the flowers.
Paps (from Tuscarora State Park) tells us that:
In Kunkletown on Saturday (4/9) we had the first Wood Ducks, Brown Thrashers, Pine Warblers, and Chipping Sparrow, as well as the first Eastern Comma (butterfly) of the year. We also had a visiting Eastern Meadowlark, although it wasn’t the first of the year.
Last weekend the coltsfoot on Chestnut Ridge were opening; on 4/9, there were a lot of plants in bloom. These are much later than the first ones we saw on the south face of Kittatinny Ridge (Smith Gap) back in February (2/28).
Did you know that when migrations of birds are at their peak, the flocks can be picked up by radar? At night, you can check out http://rap.ucar.edu/weather/radar/ (for our region the Fort Dix link works well). Last night there was evidence of a lot of migrating birds heading into south Jersey. As you can see from the Cape May Bird Observatory blog, they are starting to see the migrants: http://cmboviewfromthecape.blogspot.com/.
We have been monitoring the movement north of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at the two sites below. Based on the information provided, we set out a feeder today.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
From Beaumont, Wyoming County: a few Spring Peepers called for the first time on Wednesday night (
These reports illustrate how "signs of spring" gradually move north. I received a report of Spring Peepers at Middle Creek on March 13th, but don’t know if that was a seasonal “first” or not. In our area, the reports were varied (March 12th-18th in areas around our property in Kunkletown, in the SE corner of Monroe County, just north of the Kittatinny Ridge). The peeping at our pond started quite a bit later (April 3rd) than at these other areas very close to us. Perhaps this represented a migration to our pond from surrounding areas for breeding. But in the northern counties the first "peeping" was several weeks later most likely reflecting differences in temperatures between the areas.
I received an email today from someone who said that they had always been told that spring peepers have to "freeze up" or be silent three times before it gets warm. Have others heard this piece of lore? Is there any truth to it? This is an important thing to pay attention to in the future.
Eric Rensel, the Natural Resource Specialist to Park Region 1 (office at
Here are his records for first hearing spring peepers going back to 1995.
|First Dates for Spring Peeper Calls in Clearfield County (Eric Wensel)|
Friday, April 8, 2011
|Eastern Phoebe (Photo by H. David Husic|
|Tufted Titmouse (Photo by H. David Husic)|
The first report of groundhog sightings I received was from
|Great Egret (Photo by H. David Husic)|