After an April Fools blizzard dumped another foot of snow on the ground, it seemed like spring would never arrive. Warm temps, sunshine and a little rain work like magic, though. Even the shady hemlock groves are now mostly free from snow and ice, just a couple weeks later.
Hello… summer? We had an 84 degree Easter holiday this year! My folks came up to the cabin and we went for an after dinner walk to hear the spring peepers.
The swamp maples buds are bursting!
For the first time… we saw our local beavers! Unfortunately I only had my 35mm lens on me, so I couldn’t get a good shot of my first decent beaver sighting. You can see him in the photo above, though. His little head is sticking up just above the ripples in the water. We made Solstice stick close and watched a pair of beavers swim around for a little bit. One of them slapped its tail at us a couple times, a warning that he knew we were there and should stay away. We didn’t linger for much longer and decided to let the beavers get back to quiet evening outside their lodge.
This pup has become so patient and good. I love him!
I love walks in the woods this time of year because I get to practice birding by ear. Right now I’ve been enjoying hearing and watching groups of chickadees hopping around from branch to branch, calling out to each other. The red-winged black birds have also returned to the wetland by our cabin and eastern phoebes are scoping out our shed for a potential nest-site. I’m waiting to hear my first hermit thrush of the season and hope I can learn a few new birds as our migratory song birds return bit by bit in the coming weeks.
It was only three years ago that I first started to teach myself birding by ear. The free app, Merlin Bird ID, is still my go-to resource! After a few years, it’s still a fun challenge to hear a bird song and try to ID the call with the recordings in the app, but it’s now easier for me to make an educated guess about the type of bird I might be hearing.
For instance, last year around this time I was able to identify a Louisiana Waterthrush for the first time. I first heard an unfamiliar call and then caught a glimpse of the bird itself. April is still early for many species of migrating birds, but I knew other thrushes like the hermit thrush arrive back in our woods this time of year. I also paid attention to the surrounding environment when I heard the call. It was behind our cabin where a stream runs through a shady hemlock grove. Ooh! What does Allaboutbirds say? The Louisiana Waterthrush is a bird of forest streams and can be recognized by it’s loud, ringing call! It helped that I saw the bird and could tell it had similar markings. I also recorded its song on my phone and had a birding friend confirm my ID on social media.
In the past few years, I’ve also had fun playing this Bird Song Hero game from the Cornell Lab. It helps you learn to listen for distinct characteristics in bird song and tease out differences.
A new goal of mine is to some day take this New England Bird Language intensive with White Pine Programs in southern Maine. I recently learned about this program and it sounds SO cool. There’s so much more to learn about how birds and other animals communicate – there’s a whole ecosystem of sounds out there. I just think about how much more the world comes to life when you can interpret what’s going on in nature around you. Tax day just came and went and I ended up owing the government the cost of this workshop because of my AmeriCorps award that I used that year (yes, you have to pay taxes on AmeriCorps $$ that goes toward students loans! It’s ridiculous!). So, someday if I ever get a tax return again I think I’ll put the funds toward the tuition. It’s not cheap!