What’s Next – Late March
The Nature in Your Future
Despite today’s snowstorm here in northern New England, the first wave of migrating birds arrived with the warmth last week. Farther south across the nation (at least the parts that aren’t under water) spring is underway with bursts of desert wildflowers in the Southwest and the awakenings of amphibians across the Southeast.
First, closer to home here in New England, Turkey Vultures and Red-winged Blackbirds arrived in big numbers a week ago, as I had predicted in the first edition of What’s Next, with American Robins in lesser number pushing northward as well. The first few Northern Flickers and Fox Sparrows, which issue the most lovely song of April, are beginning to show up.
My predicted Mourning Cloak flight didn’t quite materialize this far north, except for at least one near Toronto today and another at Cape Cod National Seashore on March 13 (nice photo). Other over-wintering butterflies did turn up in scattered locations, including Eastern Commas in Syracuse on March 20 and in Ottawa on March 19. I’ll guarantee more butterflies as temperatures climb into the 50s later next week here in the once-again-white north.
Those of you making maple syrup should watch your sap buckets for more than sap. Declan McCabe discovered a couple dozen Morrison’s Sallows in the buckets on campus at St. Michael’s College in Winooski, Vermont, on March 20. Lots more over-wintering moths are soon to follow — and I don’t mean the Isabella Tiger Moth caterpillars (Wooly Bears) now emerging and crawling around across the eastern U.S.
Meanwhile, the Super Bloom is “better than ever and going strong” in the desert Southwest, owing to big rains earlier this spring, notably at Anza-Borrego State Park. Check out the video and views of the blooms as seen from space. (I missed it by a year.)
So what’s next? More of the same, plus other early-spring migrant birds, including waterfowl, American Woodcock, Killdeer, Red-shouldered Hawk and Song Sparrow. Your male American Goldfinches will more and more be turning canary yellow.
Watch the sap buckets and trees for fireflies that over-winter as adults (but do not flash), most of which are Ellychnia corrusca, aptly named Winter Firefly. They look like the copulating pair below. And if they haven’t bloomed already, which they no doubt have not much farther south than Montpelier, Silver Maples will be among our first native flowers of spring.
For the next What’s Next, in early April, I’ll be reporting from the wetlands and rivers of the American deep south, where I’ll mostly be chasing early-season birds and insects, including a newly described dragonfly species, Sarracenia Spiketail (Cordulegaster sarracenia), which likes to breed in southern pitcher plant bogs.