Was it really just two weeks ago when our home thermometer read a mere 8 degrees fahrenheit on the porch?!
Not quite spring yet, but starting to feel like it - oh how we long for those balmier days, more hours of daylight and the thought of those wonderful warblers, which even now are probably wondering whether it's time to think about heading north from that Cecropia tree that has kept them well supplied with bugs all winter. I walked around The Beanery quickly at lunch time today for - I'm ashamed to say - the first time this year. Though there was no sign of the Rusty Blackbird flock that Sam and Tom had last Friday, I was more than compensated by the presence of no less than three adult Bald Eagles soaring overhead in the sun. Even assuming that two were the local pair (which they may not have been!) that still leaves at least one that was a-wandering.
When a Bald Eagle comes right over your head, how often do you have a camera? Well, at least today at The Beanery I did! [photo by Mike Crewe]
Bald Eagle number 2 passes The Beanery lunchtime today [photo by Mike Crewe]
I couldn't manage all three in one shot, but here's eagles numbers two and three, thermalling over Bayshore Road today - it's good to be alive! [Photo by Mike Crewe]
Aside from the birds, spring is certainly beginning to make its presence felt here with Spring Peepers starting to call (though not the full-on, deafening chorus yet!), a Mourning Cloak seen by Sam and Tom on Friday and a Winter Firefly reported to me by Will Kerling. Plant-wise, the elm and maple flower buds are threatening to burst their seams pretty soon and the year's first wild flower is up in great quantity at The Beanery - those bizarre Skunk-cabbages!
No they're not old beetroots or rotten eggs (though they smell like them!) These really are the bizarre flowers of Skunk-cabbage, probably appearing in a swamp near you right now! [photo by Mike Crewe]
Keith Seiger deserves a mention too, for being kind enough to call me amd let me know that the leaves of Crane-fly Orchid were now poking through in the local woods. This is an uncommon and declining species, but still to be found here and there in the county. It's a weird plant; although it flowers in mid-summer, each plant sends up just a single leaf in mid-winter which provides sustenance for the plant then withers away before spring closes the woodland canopy over its head and blocks out the light.
The mysterious appearance of Crane-fly Orchid leaves on the forest floor [photo by Mike Crewe]
If you're unsure if you have a Crane-fly Orchid leaf, be sure to check underneath for purple blotching (though a few plants don't have it, while some have purple on the top too (very confusing!) [photo by Mike Crewe]