Friday, March 20, 2009

An Oxymoronic Start To Spring

While I have lived in areas where you expect it to snow well into May, this is not typically the way you think to start the first day of spring in Cape May! Yes, in fact when I was in school in northern Wisconsin, the ice often did not break on Chequamegon Bay until late April or May. Absolutely fantastic birding though. Though this morning when I woke up and noticed it was raining I was happy to have overslept. Then when I looked out the window to see fat wet snowflakes falling I was quite content with my decision to not rush out for a morning walk. What I did not expect was to see a small amount accumulation on the yard when I was leaving to come into the Northwood Center. But as things go here, the further south you get the less severe (or more moderated) the weather can be. And this happens a bit on a micro climatic basis as well. When we had the sizeable snow fall here at the beginning of the month there was 8" of accumulation up around my area and only about 4" down here in Cape May. Likewise today, about half the way down to the Point this morning the snow/freezing rain had turned to pure rain.

Anyway, there are still some signs of spring. Red-wing Blackbirds continue to sing and jostle for prime territories. I've noticed more song coming from Juncos and now a Chipping Sparrow or two around the house. In fact, I've very much enjoyed surveying the small flock of Chipping Sparrows that have wintered in our 'hood as they continue to have more rufous come in on their crowns and backs. Along with whitening eyebrows and throats. I'm also seeing many red buds on the maples and more and more daffodils popping up each day.

Spring peepers have begun to call on the warmer nights and many folks have reported Woodcock displays taking place.

Back to the "winter", there is still a flock of 25+ Snow Geese hanging out at the TNC Migratory Bird Refuge. And Michael O'Brien called me this morning to let me know he'd had an Iceland Gull fly over and in to the TNC refuge property. He was unable to relocate with just bins and Karl Lukens and I had no luck either. It would be good to check the jetties and any concentrations of gulls along the beaches for this species. Karl Lukens suggested to me checking the marina areas around the harbor as well. And of course there is always the fish plant off Ocean Drive headed toward Wildwood Crest.

I suppose that we are in that weather state of juxtaposition where winter does not want to loosen it's grip and spring is trying with all it's might to break through. Let's just hope we don't skip spring and go to summer as seems to be the pattern of sorts of late.

NOTE: There is quite a bit of earth moving work being done at the TNC's Migratory Bird Refuge and both paths are roped off making much of the trails inaccessible. For more information and estimated opening dates please contact the Delaware Bayshore Office of the TNC.

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