Harbingers of Spring!

March 11th, 2008

The season is changing fast… and what’s a “harbinger” anyway?! All I know is that we went from freezing at night to a beautiful warm afternoon today, and it just feels like spring is coming. I think the plants and critters are feeling it too.

Dwarf apple tree buds in spring

We planted this dwarf apple tree about 18 months ago- it’s about 3-4 years old. Last year’s blossoms were snapped by the late spring freeze, but maybe we’ll see an apple this year? The tree is still young, but we’ll see! The apple trees we planted last year have all been chewed by deer at night. I need to put up some kind of fence because they just chew the buds, leaves and shoots as fast as they grow.

The Red-winged Blackbird is a very common bird, but we only see a couple of them in the area. This one is looking for a handout near the feeders.

Red-winged Blackbird

While working outside I heard what sounded like the high nasal whistling sounds of White-fronted Geese and finally saw them very high up. Last year I watched a small flock fly in over the treetops and land on the pond- I had never seen them up close before with their yellow legs! These could also be Snow Geese which have become too abundant across many regions of North America.

White-fronted geese migration

The Pussy Willow tree is blooming early with it’s fuzzy “catkins”.

Pussy Willow catkins

And here’s one of the Pileated Woodpecker holes in a large Oak tree. There were many other smaller holes near the base of the tree, but the depth of this one is amazing. Hard to appreciate the size of the hole- I need to use something for reference next time, but this one’s about the size of a half-dollar. I’m curious about what insects are in the tree that the woodpecker is after.

Pileated Woodpecker hole

I can say that there were a ton of paper wasps around this tree last year, near a woodpile I was stacking. When I got too close to the area with the tractor the wasps would buzz all around. Ever try to run away from a wasp on a tractor? Just not going to happen if they’re really angry. But I never knew where they were coming from, so maybe it’s inside this tree? I woudn’t have noticed the holes/cavities near the base if the woodpecker had not been tearing it up this year. Hmmm… It’s kind of close to the barn so I’m tempted to seal it up with expanding foam.

About an hour before sunset we were amazed to see a hot air balloon cruising across the treetops! The young boy ran around waving and yelling “Hi!” Not sure they heard us, but it was fun to watch! Made me wonder what people in rural America must have thought when airplanes began flying around the countryside in the days of the barnstormers. I would have really loved that…

Hot air balloon

2 Responses to “Harbingers of Spring!”

  1. I’ve never been in a hot air balloon, but I understand that you can hear just about everything on the ground, even regular conversations.

  2. Well then they must have heard him! It was quiet… we heard the “whooosh!” of the burner a few times as it floated by. I’ve never been inclined to ride in one… I figured that if I wanted to go somewhere else it would take a while! But I love flying and seeing the landscape from above. Surely someone reading this has been in one?

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