Thursday, March 29, 2007

Amphibian Spring Migration

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A bright afternoon here at Vermont Flower Farm. There's still too much snow to get off Route 2 and onto the new property to begin spring chores. It shouldn't be much longer though as the wind is dropping the snow quickly and drying up the open areas.

I just checked the thermometers here and it's 36 on the east side of the house and 62 on the west. The way the wind gusts are striking, I'm sure it feels colder than it reads. Outside my window a male pine siskin is bending sideways on a large mullein stalk as he tries to peck the remaining seed from a nearby Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'.

The snow will go quickly now and although it will probably return in a couple April storms, it's time to get on with spring. Historically the last couple weeks is the time when Vermont experienced big rain and snow storms and floods. Those were the times when lives and livestock were lost and many things floated down the river. Gail's mother remembers seeing a cow going down the Winooski River in 1936 and a weather channel from the Fairbanks Museum in St Johnsbury reminded us that last week in 1913 (Foggy on the recall on that date??) a whole log yard in White River washed south into the Connecticut River.

When the rains turn warm, other things begin to happen. Last evening Gail and Alex and I went to a terrific program at the Jaquith Library here in Marshfield. It was about the Amphibian Monitoring Program sponsored by the North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier. Larry Clarfeld of the Nature Center brought salamander guests and presented a super show about salamanders, frogs and toads and their spring migrations.

Larry will present next week on April 3d at the Aldrich Public Library in Barre and April 5th at the Roxbury Free Library in Roxbury. Programs at the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library in Williston and Maple Corners in Calais are being arranged. Next week's shows start at 7 PM and our family recommends you attend. If you have home schoolers in the house like we do, this is an excellent program to integrate. If your kids attend a school that isn't big on science (like one I know), this is a program that will challenge you out of your easy chair and into the outdoors. Further details are available at the Nature Center at 802-229-6206. This is a great program and you'll leave with excitment, lots of information and a new way to ribit-ribit. You might even want to participate in the monitoring program.

Yes, spring is here and soon we'll all be very busy. Yesterday morning at about 5 AM I spotted my first woodcock rising in front of the truck headlights like one of those verticle takeoff jets. It was a big one with a long bill very prominent even in the dull night light. Down the road close to RT 2 where I always see animals cross stood a most beautiful red fox. It leaped up over the right side of the road between two snowbanks and kind of hung in half levitated stillness as it's feet settled in the snow and it's eyes fixed on the headlights. It was bushy and alert and a harbinger for me of the day's tone.

This part of spring is a good time to take that last little rest as very soon the gardening chores will commence. If you live in central Vermont or close proximity, try to get to one of Larry's presentations. You'll come away with a better understanding of some very important parts of our environment which don't often get the attention they should.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where only millet seeds remain on the platform feeder, collected like steel filings moved into the corner by a strong magnet.....but really......just millet seeds waiting for the doves.

With spring wishes,
George Africa

1 comment:

Ki said...

Great photo of the salamander. I wonder why it has those bright yellow spots? You wouldn't think it would be very effective camouflage.