We are fortunate at the nature centre to have a small, marshy area where dozens of Willows (Salix) have taken up residency. The precocious male pussy willows (Salix discolor) started to bloom on March 24 this year and we watched as they began to produce pollen. The female pussy willows are much more delicate and are just now starting to bloom. Some people think willows are just scrub trees but willows have a purpose and contribute to the ecological stability and balance of nature.
During our walk, we also heard and observed Northern Flickers, Pileated Woodpeckers, American Robins and American Crows. They were singing and cawing, but they all sounded anxious and disturbed. We didn't see Bertie, our resident Barred Owl but we assumed he/she may have had something to do with the disturbance. The Killdeers were also busy trying to distract us and lure us away from their nests, with their loud vocal call and feigning injury.
While walking we noticed a Long-stalked Sedge, (Carex pedunculata) which is one of the first of the many species of sedges in our area to bloom in early spring. There is a photo at the end of the blog but it may be difficult to actually see the flower.
We crept up a small embankment and looked down into the pond and were delighted to see 2 small turtles sunning themselves on the rocks. They must have sensed our presence because they only stayed a moment and glided into the water. We had placed our game camera there in the hopes of getting some photos of them up close but when we downloaded the chip there was nothing on it. We'll keep trying.
Then out of nowhere, there was a 10" snapping turtle on the ground in front of us. There she sat, mud and soil on her back and a shortened tail that must have been damaged by a predator last year. We will try and keep an eye on her so we can protect the eggs she lays from predators later in the season.
More to come next week with the continued unfolding of Spring.