Bird brained stories!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Spring might really be here at last....

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Why am I looking at wildflowers on a birding blog? you might well ask. If you're a birder living in the middle of North America, as I am, you would understand. After another unseasonably warm early winter, snow arrived here with a vengeance--record snowfalls--in early March. We were tempted a few weeks back with some unseasonably warm weather, only to be socked with nasty cold winds and yes, more snow this past week. My early daffodils were buried in it.

Now, I know as a birder, we tend to be a hardy lot, going out in all manner of weather. Still, when things keep getting turned upside down, it's sometimes easier to just look out the window at the feeders and call it a day.

No choice of that for me today, however. Today was the annual crane count, and I'd signed on to take a site again. A couple days ago when the ground was again covered in snow, I questioned the wisdom of such philanthropic use of my time at 5:30AM.

I needn't have worried. The snow has melted and the earth is slowly warming at last. My site is accessed from a cemetery with a trail to the LaCrosse River Bike Trail. I spend hours and hours on this trail in the warmer months, biking to this very spot and then watching all that nature has to offer in these wetlands. This morning, walking in by flashlight, my sensory experience was at first auditory. Peepers calling tentatively, robins and other chirpy birds singing. An American Woodcock peenting over there! No skydance, but I'll check again one evening soon. Winnowing Snipe, then on cue at 5:45AM, three unison calling pairs of Sandhill Cranes around me.

The view was almost mystical. A sliver of a moon reflected in the mirrored surface of the marsh, fog rising from it. The horizon just barely tinged with deep pink. One of those moments that reminds you that sometimes it pays to get up when normal people are still deep in REM sleep. All the birdsong, long forgotten since last fall, gave hope that spring was really here at last. If that wasn't reminder enough, I later discovered this Round-leafed Hepatica blooming near a frog pond as we searched for a geocache. Some of the birds are already back, others returning. It's here at last.


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