Monday, March 18, 2013

They Are Baaaaack!

Spring is showing signs of returning.  It was 80 degrees on Friday at Bull Creek and I got my first attached tick of the year.  We have had occasional crawling ticks through the winter but they didn't seem to have their heart in it until now.

Fortunately there are many other more positive signs of spring.  Our most exciting one is the return of the black vulture couple to the stall in our barn.  We have watch them hatch and raise chicks the last two years.  I saw them sitting on the corral fence a month ago but hadn't seen them since.  Just when I was about to give up hope, they returned, apparently unable to find a better nest site that met their budget.

They have produced a beautiful set of eggs, laying on the bare ground as usual.  One of the expectant parents was perched in the opening in the wall which they use as their front door.  Each year they are less easily spooked and Friday this one paid no attention to me as I took some early family portraits.

The deer have been especially active lately and we saw 11 the other night just driving down the lane to our house.  An owl sailed overhead, making an aerial surveillance run.  That night the game camera spotted not only the usual deer but a pair of male gobblers heading down the road together.

The warm spell brought out the fence lizards in abundance on Saturday.  Every time I turned around at the house another one scurried by, stopping suddenly to use its camouflage to fool me as I turned to face it.  This one posed for several minutes, letting me crawl up close on my belly.  Like photographing butterflies, I apparently intimidate lizards more when I am above them.  By clicking on the picture, you can even make out the blue chest of this one, probably a male.

Finally, the wildflowers are fighting off the winter blahs.  Linda Ellis reports hepaticas and thousands of trout lilies down by her creek.  We see an occasional harbinger of spring and the Barb is pulling lots of invasive garlic mustard from the riparian area.  Its head start on natives is one of its secrets of success.  On the good news side, Saturday I found a solitary trout lily struggling through the gravel and rocks in a rather sterile hillside among the trees.  As Bill Bryson says, “Life just wants to be; but it doesn't want to be much.”

Barb, the ticks and I are all ready for spring.  Grab your magnifiers, nets and wildlife field guides, and  head outside.  Oh, and put the tweezers near the sink for the tick check.

P.S.  As usual, Linda Ellis one-upped me the next day with these pictures.
Trout lilies (Erythronium albidum)
Round-lobed hepatica (Anemone americana) 

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