Beau April 22nd, 2008
Its been a busy few days and the pace of spring just amazes me. We finally had time to get most of the garden planted, even earlier than last year. Hooray! Not being satisfied with last year’s cucumbers, I planted four different kinds this year. Now if I can only remember which ones I planted where… doh!
We’ve been planting many small trees around the property, and transplanting a few others. Isn’t it wonderful to dig in the earth once in a while? My hands are sore but somehow after packing a tree in it’s new home in the ground it actually feels like you’re doing something. This year we need to put up some deer fencing, or the trees won’t make it to next spring.
Ah, but I just remembered it’s Earth Day today! I hope everyone has a chance to get outside and enjoy the wonders of spring.
The American Toads (Bufo americanus) have been trilling in and out of the pond, and their chorus is amazing at the height of mating season. We had a picnic down by the pond and watched them calling and laying gelatinous masses of eggs.
The toads can be found all around the ridgelines and around the house during the year, so it’s interesting to see them in the water during breeding season. My picture of Toad Love last year was about 20 feet from the water’s edge. The males grab tightly to the back of the females and they find a weedy place near the shoreline to lay the eggs. It was funny watching them swim tandem under the water for 4-5 feet at a time, and then come popping up!
We must have seen about 30 toads along 50 feet of the pond shoreline. Here’s a lone male trying to lure a female to the sound of his voice. From what we saw, most of the female toads were already spoken for. Keep tryin’ fella!
They didn’t seem to mind our presence… they had a job to do. These masses of eggs will become thousands of tadpoles in a few weeks.
We appreciate the toads because they eat a lot of insects as well. In mid-summer, they can be found near the house under the porch lights having bugs for dinner.
For those not inclined to appreciate the merits of toads, here’s a bloom of Wood Sorrel. But it’s funny, my toad post from last year also had a picture of Wood Sorrel.
My new late-April spring saying: The Toads are in love when the Wood Sorrel blooms.
And the Baltimore Orioles have returned, although they only stay for a few weeks it seems. This one’s plumage is a little dull compared to those I saw last year, but it’s also about two weeks early. Maybe a female? Or will the coloration become brighter orange with time? I may try to set out some orange slices and a feeder to see what happens.
And I did see the first Hummingbird today already. I put up the feeders yesterday in case, but didn’t know they were really back yet. Our Barn Swallows are busy working on their nest, and it seems we’ll have two mating pairs this year. So lots of Barn Swallows to take care of the bugs too. I was hoping for some Purple Martins, and one actually landed on the Martin house this week- but was promptly chased away by a House Sparrow of all things. I’ve got to remove that sparrow’s nest… For now it’s back to planting trees. Enjoy the day!