What an amazing spring it has been and like every season it is unique. Also, like most local springs, it seems as if this season takes forever to actually happen. The truth is that spring in the northeast is a time of great (albeit painstakingly slow) transition and impatient humans have a tendency to forget that it is only a step towards summer, not the beginning of summer itself. The hallmark of the Spring of 2023 in Waghkonk has been a repetitive, sometimes extreme, oscillation in temperature, ranging from 20 degrees above to 20 degrees below average (a couple of times from one day to the next). Up until recently we’ve had barely enough rainfall (and sunshine) for the plants to leaf out and not enough to discourage a few small brushfires. It has rained plenty now, ending any fire concerns, at least for the moment.
Green light in the woods
I love the bright, nitrogen-rich green light that suffuses our world at this time. It’s as if nature has given the “green light” to growth and life. Indeed, everything in our forest is growing, jumping up, leaves unfolding, delicate wildflower-petals opening. So many of our Spring Ephemerals are doing their thing as we speak and some of them (Dutchmen’s Breeches, Red Trillium and Trout Lilys) are done already.
And meadows —once the woods quietly succumb to its newfound cool darkness the flower-action shifts to our more open spaces. Bluets, Coltsfoot, Dandelions, Violets, both white and, well…violet! Flitting about them are some early Comptons Tortoiseshells, Gypsy Moths (now called Spongy Moths), Mourning Cloaks, Sulphurs, Whites and a couple of early Yellow Swallowtails. At least there are some bumble bees (usually Ground Bees) and honey bees out there (hopefully, with more to follow).
Most notable will be the ancient symbiotic relationship between the Monarchs and their Milkweed. The Monarchs have already started their epic journey from the Oyamel Fir forests of the mountains of Michoacán, Mexico and are on their way here to their ancestral summer fields and meadows (see journeynorth.org).
Remember, you can pick up a bird’s egg and put it back in the nest, but do not touch a newborn fawn. Birds have no sense of smell, so their parents won’t smell your scent; whereas, since the fawn was born scentless (yes, it’s incredible, but true) to help it avoid predators while it is helpless as a newborn, you could imbue it with your scent if you touch or move it, possibly causing its mother to reject it. Black Bears are out now, roaming the valley looking for food (am seeing bear-sign every day), at least until the Blueberries and Huckleberries fruit up in the hills. Some will have cubs, of which momma bear will be very protective — one more reason to keep Fido close to hand. It is turkey hunting season now (and all of May), so please wear some orange and stay on trails.
To reach Dave Holden, call 845-594-4863 or email email@example.com; also see Woodstock Trails on Facebook; rangerdaveholden on Instagram or www.woodstocknytrails.com.