A number of birds species are clearly on the move now too; a sudden pulse of Tree Swallows last weekend, singing Eastern Bluebirds, a few Eastern Phoebes and a noticeable increase in the numbers of American Woodcock are all good, early indicators of a change in the season. Of course, the bulk of such activities are induced by day length not by temperature and early-moving insectivorous birds like Tree Swallows can really be in trouble when we get cold spells at this time of year.
But even if it's still too cold out there for you to feel like going for a stroll right now, the very fact that spring is knocking at the door can induce a warm feeling. Take that warm feeling, wrap yourself up in it and enjoy the great outdoors!
American Woodcock are on the move northward now and in many areas will already be displaying. This poor guy flew into a window along New England Road but recovered after a few minutes and lived to fight another day. Don't forget our Woodcock Dance which is a pre-registered event and always brilliant fun - coming up next Saturday, March 8th [photo by Ed Russell]
Mourning Cloak in Middle Township, February 22nd [photo by Will Kerling]
Eastern Comma in Middle Township, February 23rd. Both Eastern Comma and Mourning Cloak are species that hibernate as adults and are thus most often the first butterflies of the year for many folks. Perhaps a better sign that spring is truly coming is when we see the first butterflies that have overwintered as pupae and emerge as fresh adults in spring. For this you will need to wait until later in March and keep an eye out for Blueberry Azures or maybe a Small White [photo by Will Kerling].
Some insects seem to thumb their noses at the cold and get on with life - albeit at a slower pace. One or two species of moth can be seen throughout the winter months - especially Fall Cankerworm in our area - while other cold weather specialists include the Winter Firefly, shown here. This is an interesting insect that we will bring you more on... [photo by Chris Borkowski]
Despite being cold-blooded, some reptiles and amphibians appear surprisingly early in the year. This Garter Snake is one of two found taking the sun at Cape May Point State Park on February 23rd. A sizeable hibernaculum for this species once existed at the state park but seems to have steadily declined in recent years [photo by Chris Borkowski].
Some animal behavior seems to defy obvious interpretation! Will Kerling watched this Muskrat as it took naps in the leaf litter at the back of the beach and wandered along the strand on the Delaware Bayshore last weekend! [Photo by Will Kerling]