While indeed the calendar says late spring, the vernal season is racing past. These rapid changes have accelerated the pace of all the seasonal markers, so much so that it is almost difficult to keep up with. The Spring Ephemerals of the now-darker forest are mostly done as the flower-action has switched to fields and meadows; the different Violets are jumping out; we have Bluets by the bucket; the first Dame’s Rockets are up and many Dandelions are already seeding; there are Buttercups, both regular and Long-Stem and Wild Strawberries. I’m sure there are more, but these all come to mind immediately. Certainly, all the ferns are literally “jumping up” like I’ve never seen before. Every time I turn around I see that Hay-scented Ferns are spreading well (and quickly) and Sensitive Ferns are rapidly growing in all the wet-meadows. The warmth and rain have also encouraged many trees to fully leaf out down here in the valley.
The exception that I see to the wildly burgeoning growth I mention above is in the insect realm. There is definitely a dearth of insects — no “windshield effect” as of yet this season. This explains the lower numbers of birds, which mostly rely on insects to feed on. One exception to this so far this year is the average amounts of Barn Swallows I see grazing the skies, so they must be finding some bugs. That’s a good thing. For the birds we have that are nesting, remember that if you find an egg that fell out of its nest, you can gently pick it up and return it to the nest.
We have plenty of amphibians, probably because of the warmth and rains. Red Efts will probably be out soon as the Spotted Newt goes through its terrestrial stage. Woodfrog tadpoles are wildly proliferating and providing food for herons and Raccoons. Various turtles are out of the mud now and seen sunning on logs. Most noticeable of the local turtles are our Snapping Turtles, living vestiges of dinosaurs. Be extra careful if you have to move one off the road — most turtles you can simply pick up by the shell, but snappers have extra-long necks to reach back at you and most likely won’t understand that you’re trying to help them. This is probably why the shovel was originally invented. And please remember, when moving any turtle off the road, to move it only in the direction it was originally going. Otherwise, it will just try crossing the highway again.
White-tail Deer are having their too-cute little fawns and these new-born Bambis have no scent — an incredible adaptation. This is so that a predator will not know it is there. So if you find a fawn seemingly alone, it’s mother is near and do not touch it. It is not abandoned and if you touch it you may imbue it with your scent. In which case the doe would probably reject the fawn, dooming it.
So, again, please – return an egg to its nest, but leave a fawn be. Everyone please have a great, safe early summer.