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Posts Tagged ‘song sparrow’

snow

The vernal equinox, marking the official beginning of spring, happened yesterday, Sunday at 7:21 P.M. EDT. In the northern hemisphere, the point when the hours of day and night, as recorded by the sunrise and sunset, are equal occurs a couple of days earlier. On March 18th, the sun rose at 7:10 AM and set at 7:12 PM for a total of 12 hours, 2 minutes and 5 seconds of sunlight.

The first day of spring here was snowy. The weekend was pleasant and sunny, if a bit chilly, and the ground was mostly free of snow. But by mid-morning today, the landscape was back to white. It doesn’t matter though. This minor setback will soon be history and it takes more than a dusting of snow to discourage the newly arrived migrants.

songsparrow

On the weekend, I tracked down one of the Song Sparrows (Melospiza melodia) that I could hear singing from the hedgerow. He flitted about the shrubbery in an avoidance tactic but I finally managed to catch him in a photograph.

This morning, Common Grackles (Quiscalus quiscula) joined the Red-winged blackbirds and Starlings at the feeder. Their voices joined those of Blue Jays and Cardinals and Robins, producing a grand cacophony of spring song.

starling

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Goldfish, that is. The warmer weather we have been enjoying in the past week invites you outdoors to wander about the property, soaking up the sun, the joy, the very newness of all that is spring. I was standing by the pond recently, doing just that, when I noticed a flash of gold. Goldfish!

In the year that I have been visiting the pond, I have only spotted goldfish a couple of times. The first time was last spring, when I found a dead fish on the shore. The second sighting took place in the fall, when I spotted a couple of goldfish hovering just at the point where the shallow water gives way to the murky deep. I was therefore quite surprised to see a whole school, a fleet of several dozen bright orange fishes. They were lazing about in the pond weed, just below the surface of the water, charmed from the depths, perhaps by the first warmth of spring.

It was quite exciting to see them, even though they are a common enough pet-store fish, presumably introduced to the pond by former residents. The pond has a good native population, including little fishes and bullfrogs, dragonflies and insects. I’m not sure what role these outsiders will play in the ecology of the pond.

Apart from when the icy grip of winter prevails, there is always something to see down by the pond. On recent visits, I have spotted the poor, dead carcasses of bullfrogs that didn’t make it through the winter along the shore. However, there are also plenty of big, fat bullfrog tadpoles who will continue to represent the species into the future.

Assorted insects and other little creatures are getting their new season underway as well. I saw what I thought was a water strider scooting across the surface, but on closer examination it turned out to be a spider, probably a Fishing Spider (Dolomedes sp). Dolomedes spiders are covered all over in short, water-proof hairs (hydrophobic). This allows them to use surface tension to stand or run on the water. They typically hunt by waiting at the edge of the water until they detect the ripples caused by the movement of prey. Then they run across the surface to capture it. They use their foremost legs, which are tipped with small claws, to subdue their prey. Like other spiders, they then inject venom with their hollow jaws to kill and digest the prey.

There are plenty of Red-winged Blackbirds singing their oak-a-leeee song. The red-wings are always early spring arrivals, but they are being joined by many other birds now. Here is a Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) that was singing at the edge of the pond, adding his voice to the celebration of the season.

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