Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 20, 2011

We had two beautiful March days at Lake Wicwas this weekend, with seasonable temperatures and bright, warm sunshine.  With today being the vernal equinox, the sun is as strong now as in late September, and we can really feel the solar warmth.  We even had clear skies to see the full moon, with its closest approach and largest, brightest appearance for the next 18 years!

Hairy Woodpecker

I went for a snow shoe trip this afternoon to see what's happening in the woods, and found that the woodpeckers are starting to sound their mating and territorial calls, hammering away on the dead, resonant trees.

Later on this male stopped by our feeder for some suet.  There are also a lot more red squirrels out and about than we've seen all winter.  Suddenly there are many small, healthy, brightly colored animals running all around on the firm snow cover, and making tunnels from tree to tree.  We also saw our first chipmunks this week.

As for the larger animals, there are still no deer moving around, and the fox, traveling mostly at night or in the early morning when it's cold, aren't leaving many tracks.  Likewise the porcupine aren't leaving tracks, but their signs are clearly evident.  There are cut-off branches on hemlocks everywhere, and the ground is littered with branches they have cut, and then left on the snow.
Cut Branches on Hemlock Trees

Porcupine Litter

Many animals will soon be feeding on the spring buds of trees - these maple buds are first I've seen this spring.  Considering the deep snow cover this late into the spring, it is likely to be a year with lots of bear-human interaction, as the bears will become active while much of their natural food supply is still covered with snow.
Spring Buds

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