T. S. Eliot wrote "April is the cruellest month" but in my opinion it's the frenzied one.
Everything's blooming, everything's popping, frogs are mating, birds are migrating. Every day produces a new sign of spring. The birds are frantic to court, mate and nest.
Hurry. Hurry. For the next eight weeks I'm frenzied too. There's just not enough time to see it all.
Where to begin? With a list of what to look for!
- Top of my list for early April are yellow-throated warblers, pictured here, who will return in the next 10 days. They sing from the sycamores along our creeks and are amazingly hard to spot. Unlike most warblers they move somewhat slowly, walking on the high trunks and large branches. When they stop to sing they throw their heads back and show their yellow throats. I look for them at Raccoon Creek Wildflower Reserve and Enlow Fork.
- While looking up high for yellow-throated warblers, don't forget to check the creek banks and understory trees for Louisiana waterthrushes. You'll probably hear them before you see them.
- Also coming are osprey, common loons, golden-crowned kinglets, rough-winged swallows, barn swallows, purple martins and the first blue-gray gnatcatchers.
- You'll see flowers in the woods: Spring beauties, Hepatica, Harbinger-of-spring, Purple cress, Twinleaf, Violets and more! I've already seen my first bittercress. Hairy bittercress, an alien, pops up in my backyard.
- With flowers in bloom the insects come out: bees, flies and butterflies. My favorites are mourning cloaks and spring azures (yes, they're azure blue).
And much, much more. For all the details - and you will need them - see Chuck Tague's phenology.
(photo by Chuck Tague)