This month spring has been slow and cool, with a few hot summery days and a few snowstorms.
We started the month with snow – a lovely bright spring snowstorm. Snow looks different these days now that the sun is higher in the sky.
Snowy driveway through the wetland
A few days later enough snow had melted that we got our first spring walk up to Hidden Oaks Point.
Center Valley with the north-facing hills still snow covered.
Several warm days melted most of the snow away.
Spring moisture brings out new mushrooms and the colors in the lichens.
Palomino Cup – (my best guess)
Mike got most of the spring mowing done early. This is Hidden Oaks Point from below – one of his largest and steepest mowing projects.
We always try to get the mowing finished before the birds start their nests. This year I’ve stumbled on 3 American Woodcock nests. They make nests very early, directly on the ground. They’re so well camouflaged that I don’t see them until the adult flies up right under my feet.
The beaver’s dam has dramatically slowed the flooding in our creek. In other years the spring snowmelt meant churning brown water and at least a little flooding, but this year the water level went up and down just a few inches, and stayed clear and calm.
We had a few very warm days – into the 80s (F) and overwintering butterflies came out of their winter hiding places. This is a Compton Tortoiseshell.
The underside of its wings are much more camouflaged.
Willows are always the first trees to bloom.
On warm days the flowers buzz with insect activity. Some of the insects are bees, some are nectaring flies. This is a fly – called a Hover Fly, or Drone Fly.
Most of the insects I saw that day were queen bumblebees, gathering nectar and pollen to start their nests. This is a Tricolored Bumblebee queen.
(To learn how to make your garden more welcoming to bees and other insects, check out this lovely article about ‘Soft Landings’ – an idea developed by Heather Holm and Leslie Pilgrim.)
Kule Region Forestry has been working on our Pine Point Savanna – clearing trees and brush. On dry windy days they couldn’t burn up what they’d cut.
But this wet weather makes it safer to burn. Now most of the slash is gone and it’s looking more and more like a savanna.
View down the valley from the savanna
I put up my moth lights on the least windy of the warm nights – April 11. I saw more moths than I’ve ever seen that early in the year.
Most of the large moths were just two species. Small Phigalia…
and Spring Cankerworm. These are all males – females of both species are wingless and don’t come to my lights.
I found one early flower blooming – Bloodroot.
Then came more snow….
Willow leaves with snow
More willow leaves
Then a few days of melting and snow showers.
Snow showers and cold rain
Finally the landscape is turning green and flowers are blooming.
Sand Cress – usually the first flower I see
Small White Violets
And one small Pasqueflower
Today – the last day of April – there are more snow showers but still plenty of green.
The small stream that follows the driveway