[There is no single story to this blog, just a desire to show you what early spring is like round here, before I leave town for a while. This is my last week in Maine till late May; I’m off to England, Kenya and Sicily. I may blog once or twice en route, or I may hoard stuff and let it trickle out bit by bit on my return. It will depend in what I see, whether I have wifi, and any spare time. Wherever you are, delight in the signs of new life.]
There is still some snow in the woods, and some ice on the pond, but with every passing day it shrinks. So the waterbirds are returning. The Canada Geese, of course.
There were twelve today, and here in their home habitat they are handsome creatures, though she does not seem to find him enticing:
The Hooded Mergansers, swimming amongst tiny suspended icy chandeliers:
and today they are joined by the first Great Blue Heron of the year:
It puffed out its chest to display its pectoral plumes:
Spread its wings:
and took off:
Around the pond the redwinged blackbirds chorus, and a a tiny Brown Creeper works its way up a dead tree probing for bugs:
and singing beautifully:
I heard (but didn’t see) a beaver slap its tail, but I did see a pair of Wood Duck,
and an otter, swimming fast and elegantly across the pond in a series of shallow dives like a porpoise:
On land, the American Robins are all over the place:
The Eastern Bluebirds are back:
and the American Goldfinch is growing its bright yellow breeding plumage, supplanting its drab brown winter costume:
And the very earliest of woodland wildflowers, Trailing Arbutus, is in bud:
Ben the house, the first chipmunk today, and on the trail, fresh bear scat. They are leaving hibernation… and so am I.
PS Birds of the world describes the heron’s breeding plumage as follows (both sexes):
“At height of mating season (Feb-Apr) when basic feathers fully developed, ornamental black, lanceolated, occipital plumes extend from side of crown up to 210 mm in length, grayish lanceolated scapular plumes extend over back up to 280 mm in length, and grayish to whitish, filamentous to lanceolated pectoral plumes extend below breast up to 300 mm in length (Pyle and Howell 2004). “
Last fall I showed you a juvenile heron on this pond whose plumes had not yet grown. Could this be the same bird? His bill was then dusky blue, a juvenile trait. Now this adult has a yellow one.