A sea of Dutchmen's breeches is now carpeting the cliffs of Eagle Heights Woods on the northern slopes. With the cooler weather now they should stay for a little while. Further up the path big clumps of mayapples are spreading.
On his morning walks through Bill's Woods, some surprise often awaits David Liebl. On April 11, he observed "one Barred Owl coming off the nest .... The other arrived with fat rat in its beak. We moved away, and waited to watch the second BADO carry the rat to the nest hole, drop it inside and then fly off." That was a good start of the day for the owlets in the nest hole.
David Liebl and Glenda Denniston, when visiting Bill's Woods this weekend, sent photographs of the same patch of Bloodroot and also discovered Hepatica in brilliant shades of purple. The Bill's Woods wildflower trail begins at the top of the hill, across the service road from Heritage Oak. Other early natives are also emerging, such as wild leeks, shooting stars, trout lilies, dutchmen breeches and more. Take a walk and send your photos to preserveFriends@gmail.com
During morning hours these soggy days, joggers and walkers are greeted by a cacophony of sounds in the Preserve. In particular, at the Pond Marsh, half-way between the entrance and the point along the Frautschi Bay shore, a multitude of birds are filling the air with jubilant sounds of spring and new life to come. Listen to the soundscape recorded by Katrina Martin and note the two sandhill cranes claiming their nesting area in Angela Currie's photo, framed by in vivid red by the osier dogwood.
03/21/21 Soundscape at Pond Marsh. Movie Katrina Martin
Seeing a bluebird in spring brings good fortune - that is the lore. Along with Eastern Bluebirds, a small crew of the Friends citizen scientists, who were opening up the Purple Martin House for the season on March 14, also saw juvenile and an adult pair of Red-tailed Hawks, Song Sparrows singing nearby, Turkey Vultures circling overhead and other signs of Spring.
,Koziol On her walk along Lakeshore Path on March 5, Arlene Koziol spotted two sandhill cranes at the marsh, fairly close to the location of the big snow pile. She believes they had just arrived from their arduous migration because she could approach them very closely while they were foraging for worms in the soft ground. Please look up Arlene's Flickr site for some short movies.
The Phenology Calendar for March on the Home page is filled with notices of spring arrivals and appearances - from opossums to painted turtles, to bluebirds and buffleheads. Hawks are also in abundance, hunting from their perches for small rodents like chipmunks, voles and more. David Liebl is once again walking Bill's Woods for his bird monitoring project in this area. He reports on a Red-tailed hawk who managed a good lunch today. The photos are taken from Daivd's personal checklist on e-bird.
David further reports "You may notice the piles of bark underneath the ash trees. Woodpeckers seem to have discovered the Emerald Ash Borer larvae. I assume those trees are (or will soon be) dead. Also, I noticed what looked like the remains of coyotes feeding on a rabbit along the footpath between archeology pit and the top of the service drive."
Pease tell us what you observes on your walks in March in the Preserve, either as Comment or in email to preserveFriends@gmail.com.
Chuck Henrikson put together a marvelous collection of birds in the Preserve in winter, as part of his Virtual Winter Birding Field Trip. Here is a symphony in white and red, snow and cardinals. There is still time to enjoy the Chuck's walk, on your next outing to the Preserve. CLICK HERE.
Lake Mendota froze officially on January 34, www.fishing.info/engberg_12_08_11.html2021. The median freeze date date for the lake is December 20th. With the lake freeze, the tundra swans and other water fowl left, and a new set of lake water foragers has arrived: Ice fishermen. Their arrival completes the annual cycles until spring sets in.
The deeper waters off Picnic Point are a hot spot for good sized perch. At this time, walleyes are still found in water less than 15 feet deep, but as the winter progresses, they will move to mid-lake. Also this early in the year, the fishermen catch fish attracted to the various baits throughout the day, but as winter progresses the best times are early morning and the later in the day. (see http://www.fishing.info/engberg_12_08_11 for more information on good ice fishing spots in Lake Mendota)
Rime frost and its cousin hoar frost have dazzled observers with their beauty since ancient times. In his book Μετεωρολογικά, Meteorologia, Aristotle noted
"Both dew and hoar-frost are found when the sky is clear and there is no wind. For the vapour could not be raised unless the sky were clear, and if a wind were blowing it could not condense." (347a26-28)
The term hoar frost derives from hoary which means gray or white in medieval English of the 14th century, and was used as adjective for a person with a white beard and hair. Hoar frost forms when water vapor in moist air comes in contact with objects that are well below freezing, like trees and grass during freezing night in winter, often with starry skies above. Here the water vapor, a gas, changes its state directly into a solid, the ice on the trees and surface objects, and we have frost.
The term rime frost derives from the 12th century, old Norse term hrīm or rimfrost. Conditions for rime frost are less likely in Greece or in England than for hoar frost, but occur regularly in snow covered northern landscapes like ours. Rime frost can form when layers of fog or mist develop in moist air over snowfields during cold nights with temperatures below freezing. The fog consists of tiny water droplets, cooled below freezing and suspended in the cold air.
When these supercooled water droplets come into contact with a freezing surface, such as a branch or grass, then the droplets of water, a liquid, change state from liquid to solid state and form ice on these objects. Since the droplets are so tiny, the result is beautiful feathery ice crystals of almost magical appearance.
Being both a meteorologist and historian of science by training, I take pleasure in tracing how people have always been fascinated with special weather phenomena and have tried to describe and explain them. We are grateful to Steve Sentoff for providing the photos.
Gisela Kutzbach and contributors