MID-APRIL DISCOVERIES......
Here in Maine we are gradually getting a crack in the armor of winter, allowing Spring to seep in slowly but surely. I haven't shed my turtlenecks or hats, but there are days when I hike with the jacket unzipped! The cleats are no longer necessary since ice has melted and only piles of snow in isolated places remind us of what is being left behind. The Osprey have arrived and can be seen feeding in Center Pond! How did they know the ice had finally melted?

If you look closely, you can see the first shoots of Beach Peas on the shoreline. I always enjoy watching them spring up from the sand red and pink in color, only to turn green later. The shriveled Dusty Miller is slower to expand its fuzzy foliage. Catkins can be seen hanging from Poplars, shedding their pollen. My most recent discovery was a very small antler, hardly recognizable. At first I thought it was a mushroom of all things since it had no branches and the attachment looked like the head of a fungus. It's funny how I find these things in unexpected places when I am not looking for them. As for the dolphin carcass, some animals found where I had hid it and moved it further into the bushes. Oh well, I guess we all have to eat........

Frogs seem to announce the season in a way that few other animals can. They pick their time of day depending on the warmth. First we had quacking Wood Frogs, and now we have the Spring Peepers with their high pitched choruses. It is not easy to see these inch long frogs, but we were fortunate to find one last week. I was on an outing with local Fifth Graders studying Vernal Pools. It was quiet in the pool we observed, but one fellow scraped away a pile of leaves and found a Peeper in hiding. It was beautifully marked and waiting for a moment to sing and attract a mate. It is a rare occasion to see these frogs up close and personal, so we all had a chance to see one. Bob Reyes took this picture of me holding the frog. Note its pointed nose and the cross on its back. This is as big as they get; those markings are not always so distinct. Remember, this is a tree frog with sticky digits to enable it to climb up on plants. We find them in August up on cattails in hopes of catching an insect flying by. They do not have to remain in a pool or pond, though are usually found in moist areas, like the cattail marsh. Springtime finds them returning to wetlands to assure the survival of this specie.

The picture of a campsite is where I found the small antler. The Lily Pond is free of ice, though it is below freezing as I write. I've seen gulls taking baths in the pond, but little other activity. Trees and shrubs buds are waiting in the wings, so the views through the campground are extensive. I stand in awe of the towering birches against a blue sky. There are buds showing green on Rugosa Rose bushes and Honeysuckle. Then, of course, the fuzzy catkins of Poplar are shedding their pollen along with the dangling catkins of Speckled Alder. Each day brings a new beginning, which is why I keep watching.

4/15/09 Taxed out Ronnie.