Journal for April 12, 2014

Now (I think) spring is really here – in fact, we’re in the middle of a thunderstorm.  It’s so nice to be seeing rain, not snow!

Center Valley in the rain

center valley 4-12-14


This is what it looked like a week ago – April 4th.

center valley 4-4-14


There were a few days when the snow stayed on the ground.  Indian Grass Savanna on April 5th.

indian grass savanna 4-5-14


But fortunately it melted quickly, and a few days later it felt like spring again.  This is Center Valley from Indian Grass Point – on April 7th.

center valley 4-7-14


Last week we saw and heard hundreds of American Robins.  They were calling from the tops of all the trees, and hopping around on the ground in all the woods and fields.  We’ve never seen so many.

robin 4-5-14


Here’s a small flock in the trees, eating wild grapes.

robins 4-2-14


April is a good month for birds – the spring birds are arriving, and the winter ones haven’t left yet.  This is a Northern Shrike – for about a week we listened to shrikes singing from wires and the tops of trees in the wetland.

Shrike 3-25-14


I saw a pair of American Kestrels hanging around the wetland for a few days.    I was hoping they’d use the nest box I’ve put up at the edge of the wetland – but they disappeared and we haven’t seen them for a few weeks now.

American Kestrel 3-24-14


The Wild Turkeys have been showing off for the game cameras.  These first two photos are from top of our dugway.

turkeys 4-2-14 2



turkeys 4-2-14 3


This is on the driveway.

turkeys 4-9-14 1


I haven’t found any flowers blooming yet, but I always love finding this – Downy Rattlesnake Plantain.  It still has last year’s flower stalk.

Downy rattlesnake plantain


It’s a native woodland orchid;  the leaves are evergreen so it’s easy to spot even in winter.

Downy rattlesnake plantain 2


I saw my first ‘leps’ (lepidoptera – butterflies and moths) on the same day – March 30th.

This is a Mourning Cloak – these butterflies spend the winter as adults, tucked into cracks or brush piles, so they emerge as soon the air temperature is above about 50F and the sun is out.

Mourning cloak 3-30-14


And – The Infant – almost always the first moth I see.  It’s a day-flying moth, and the adults like to bask on the wet spots of our gravel driveway.

infant 3-30-14


The night flying moths have just started coming – mostly to bait (a fermenting mix of brown sugar, rotting fruit and beer).

Lost Sallow

Eupsilia devia 4-9-14 1


Ashen Pinion

Lithophane antennata T 4-10-14 1


White-spotted Cankerworm – a terrible name, but a nice spring moth, and one of the first to come to lights.

Paleacrita merriccata 4-10-14 1


Mike looking out from the Big View Prairie bench – Happy Spring!

mike on bench