Sunday, March 15, 2015

No snow, More sunshine

Last week, I wrote about hiking in all different kinds of snow at Sky Meadows State Park, but spring came this week!  I was actually home from work when I wrote last week's post, and we got about 10 inches of super wet and heavy snow.  However, the snow did not stick around long with warm night-time temperatures and rain dissolving it quickly.  As the snow melted, we saw and are seeing more and more signs of spring.

Hooded Mergansers on Turner Pond at Sky Meadows State Park, March 11th, 2015 by Anna Malcom.
Males were arching their necks to display their beautiful crest feathers for females.

The moss responded quickly to the warm
damp rain with lots of sporophytes
reaching up to disperse the spores.
This week, I have found little ferns poking their fronds up out of the soil, fresh shelf fungus on a dead tree, and pollen cones on the juniper trees.  The creek and ponds are full of snow melt, and the ground is squishy mud.  Ducks are arriving as the ponds thaw.  A few of us from Sky Meadows went on a 30 minute adventure during lunch to see about 10 Hooded Mergansers.  They were so pretty and flashy. The males were arching their necks to show off for some females.  I also saw a Ring-necked Duck, a English House Sparrow with nesting material, and flocks of Canada Geese circling.  Jacob and I saw Wood Ducks in some trees. Wood Ducks nest in tree cavities, and were probably scouting out some nesting locations!  Jacob and I also saw 4 salamander egg masses on our walk this morning at Shenandoah River State Park, and an Eastern Meadowlark and a Ground Hog at Sky Meadows on Saturday.  It seems that spring sprung, and it feels good to be outside soaking in the sunshine, doodling, and playing in the garden.

The new shelf fungus are deep purple brown.  

The little creek is full of snow melt.
I've been looking for salamanders but haven't spotted one yet.

The melting snow was creating a fog! 

Little bits of green emerge.