Journal for March 23, 2016

It’s spring now, and the days are getting longer and (mostly) warmer.  We’re still seeing some wintry days, but the snow melts quickly.

This was our wintry morning last week.



And this is the way the valley looked that same afternoon.  It always feels like a magical transformation. center valley no snow


With the spring, come work projects.  Battling invasive species takes up most of my time in spring and summer.  The first target is Garlic Mustard.    Its leaves stay out all winter, and start turning bright green as soon as there’s some sun and warmth.  I’ve been trying a new strategy this year – spraying with glyphosate early (before the natives come up).  Then, later on,  I’ll revisit all the same places and pull the plants that survive.

garlic mustard


I’ve also been cutting and treating invasives in our prairie and savanna remnants – mostly Buckthorn and Honeysuckle.  This is the west-facing slope of Indian Grass Point – one of my favorite remnant hillsides.   I still have to cut some invaders every year, but there are fewer each time, and the natives are coming back.  In a few weeks more there will be flowers, but even now it’s a beautiful hillside.

Indian Grass Point - west slope


I’ve been seeing early moths and butterflies on warm weather days.  My favorite spring moth is The Infant – a beautiful little day-flying moth.    On sunny days we see dozens resting on the driveway, probably soaking up salts to use in mating.  When their wings are closed, they’re very well camouflaged, but when they move, they show off their bright hind wings.



The nighttime moths are out too – many different species.  Most of these early ones are interesting looking, but not very colorful.

Small Phigalia

Phigalia strigataria 3-12-16 2


Three-spotted Sallow

Eupsilia tristigmata 3-7-16 1


Dot-and-dash Swordgrass

Xylena curvimacula 3-7-16 1


The only butterflies I’ve seen so far have been Eastern Commas.  They spend the winter as adults, so on warm days they come out and bask in the sun.

Eastern Comma 3-7-16


All the early spring bird migrants have arrived.  They all came in the same week – Red-winged Blackbirds, Song Sparrows, Robins, Ducks, Sandhill Cranes, and Turkey Vultures.  Woodcocks are doing their spring dance in the wetland.   Ruffed Grouse are drumming.  And Bluebird families are moving into their houses.

bluebirds 3-8-16 1


It’s still early for flowers, but a few plants are poking up – this is Wood Betony.  Their first early rosette of leaves is always purplish red.

Pedicularis canadensis


Another prairie plant that emerges early in the spring is Wormwood.  The gray-green rosette of leaves comes up very early, but it doesn’t send up its flowering stalk until mid-summer.



The trail cameras have been busy.


coyote 3-20-16





bobcat 3-22-16


And our new EV.