Sunday started with frost, which quickly melted in the sun. By mid-morning, the skies were full of the excited songs of migrating birds. I stood, watched and listened for a half hour while flocks of Robins and Red-winged blackbirds flew north, chirping and clucking along the way. It seemed to be a good day to migrate for Bluebirds and Grackles, Canada geese and Sandhill cranes. From my watching-spot in the yard I heard and saw them all within a half hour.
The first songs of the male Red-winged blackbirds are such wonderful ear-candy. That "rusty-hing" song greets me like an old friend. The bluebirds too, share sweet songs as they cheerily pass by, a few stopping to check out a couple of bluebird houses available in the yard.
By mid-day, the sunshine and blue skies had been replaced by heavy cloud cover, and it got grayer as the day wore on. Several days of 50 degree temperatures and a little rain had taken the frost all out of the ground, so I could stick a spade in any place in the yard. That's an important change for many wildlife species, as thawed ground means earthworms will come to the surface again. I figure the worms have appeared when I start seeing the tunnels of voles in the yard. Earthworms are one of the voles' favorite snacks. Robins hopping around the yard are another clue that the earthworms are up. There are lots of other insects that may appear, especially with encouragement from a little sunshine. I saw a couple of mourning cloak butterflies in the sun the other day, and there seemed to be a hatch of flies. It's possible to get a good hatch of mosquitoes as early as the middle of March! The tiny Spring peepers will start their peeping courtship songs any night now. Frog music is a definite highlight of spring evenings.
By late Sunday afternoon the clouds started to get even darker, and I knew it might rain, but there's something in a day like this I find strangely invigorating. The woods were a quiet, wet, almost gloomy place, but when I stepped out into the open again it began to snow. Huge, quarter-sized snowflakes drifted straight down. I figured this would make my walk much more enjoyable, but of course March weather can change at any time, so it started raining, with thunder and lightning and a little wind. With raindrops trickling down my neck, the walk didn't seem so enjoyable anymore. Then after another five minutes, it started to snow again. The weather was acting kinda crazy, but I must say I liked it. It snowed pretty hard for about ten minutes and then changed to a face-stinging icy sleet. That lasted only a few minutes before turning to light snow again. It made my walk a challenge, but certainly interesting.
Monday morning was cloudy and kind of dreary, but for another new taste of spring, I did see a single Killdeer fly over the yard. Actually, I heard him before I ever saw him. There's no mistaking his loud call, "killdeer-killdeer, killdeer." I watched the killdeer set his wings as he swooped down and landed in a nearby picked cornfield. As luck would have it, I'd kept a small pair of binoculars in my jacket pocket. I had noted where he landed, but I couldn't see him, because he blended in so perfectly with the corn stubble, dirt and patchy snow. Finally I spotted him running along between the rows.
The killdeer is one of the first shorebirds to arrive in the early spring. He will stay regardless of the weather, because he knows that warmer days are not far away. His piercing spring call is outdone only by the cranes and the geese.
Regardless of how stressful the world seems at times or how busy life has become, you can find relief on a spring walk down Nature's trail. Turn your back on the chaos a moment, for a breath of fresh air and a refreshed positive attitude that can last the day long.
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