Sunday, March 11, 2012

South Winds of Spring

The last four weeks brought us more snow, ice and bitter cold than the previous weeks of winter combined. Today a welcome south wind pushed the temperatures into the balmy range for Canada in March. I couldn't get enough of the sunshine and fresh breezes as I visited trails I hoped would not be too muddy to pass. Ice still covers shaded corners of ponds and lakes but willows are yellowing and dogwoods are reddening, adding colour to the bare woods.

Grass Lake

I visited Grass Lake, well named as come summer, no water will be visible. The reeds and rushes provide cover for nesting birds, muskrats and more. Male Red-winged Blackbirds called and displayed prominently. Many Canada Geese were around but looking closely with binoculars I saw...

Sandhill Cranes and Canada Geese

...three Sandhill Cranes blending in with the geese and the grass. One of the cranes looked much smaller and is likely a juvenile. Five minutes away at another lake, a group of Canada Geese were resting on the edge of some ice along with a small group of migrating Tundra Swans. I have not seen these swans so close to home before although large numbers of them stage in areas an hour or two west of us close to Lake Huron.

Tundra Swans on Bannister Lake

Absence makes the heart grow fonder so some of our most common birds are special in the month of March. I heard Red-winged Blackbirds earlier this week but didn't see any until today. They will be putting on quite a show as they wait for the females to arrive next month.

I poked around the garden today and the ground is still partially frozen. Surprisingly, my swiss chard from last season survived our mild winter and is pushing up new leaves. The rest of the month is supposed to be warmer than average so I can get a head start planting hardy vegetables like peas, onions and lettuces. March is such a fickle month and can be like summer or winter. I remember well the March of 1990 when my grandmother died. Our girls spent March break in shorts and tee shirts until winter returned the next week. (apparently we broke 1990's temperature record for the date today)

Our yard birds will be happy to see me digging in the garden. I have a house ready for the Chickadees (I didn't get it out early enough last year) and a pair of Cardinals have claimed our property as their territory.

First-of-year birds seen this week:
Ring-necked Duck, Sandhill Crane, Killdeer, Turkey Vulture, Brown Creeper (pair), Red-winged Blackbird, Bluebird all seen today.
I saw Tundra Swans at Lake Ontario in January, but today's were the first migrating ones seen this year. I saw my first Robin 3 days ago.


  1. Look at you, poking around in your garden already! Mine is still deep under snow despite the mild weather we've had the last 3 days. Spring is definitely in the air though and none too soon.

  2. Hi Eileen...I am afraid we may pay for this mild winter with drought this summer. The ground is very dry already. My spring vegetables my be my best.

  3. Spring has got to be the most exciting time of year. The arrival of migrating birds and the new growth are so wonderful to see.

  4. Ah, thinking of spring. I so enjoy listening to the red-winged blackbirds. But really, what happened to winter?

  5. Even in Eastern Ontario, we were out in just unbuttoned spring jackets today. We had a picnic but there was snow cover where we were.

  6. Nice bird photos. It's always a pleasure to welcome the first birds and green shoots of spring.

  7. Ah! Even with our mild winter all of us are longing for spring! It is above 80F here today and I am wearing flip-flops for the first time!


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