April was a glorious month. The weather was seasonal and stable, with appropriate temperatures and generally the right amount and timing of rain with no severe weather (other than the bit-too-much heavy rain right at the end, but we still needed a good soaking). The only real blot on its record was March, which had so many crops & natural plants ahead of themselves that the expected April frosts and freezes did some damage (such as all our young pecan tree losing their leaves). We had to do a lot of work to cover crops like strawberries night after night, but made it through with no damage and what looks like a heavy crop. It was the kind of month where we love working outdoors every day and being so immersed in the rapid changes and developments in the natural world on this farm. We took a lot of nice photos this month, so we’ll make this post largely a photo essay of April in the natural world of the farm, with the long bird list at the bottom. The highlight of the month was a fledgling Barred Owl found in late April, hopping along the forest floor testing its wings while a parent called it from a nearby tree (third photo down). Like other birds we’ve observed with young (like Broad-Winged Hawks), owls seem to use a completely different voice with their young than in any other setting. Without context & direct observation, we would never have identified this sound as a Barred Owl. We took some good photos and then left it alone to figure out life, hoping the neighborhood dogs don’t find it first.
Bonus points to anyone who can identify those yellow flowers (hint: they’re agricultural).
We’re changing the format of our bird listings this month; it’s too hard to generate & maintain the separate columns for new and recurring species. So this time we’re integrating the two, using red text to indicated a new species for the month. This is easier for us, and we hope still helps show the pattern of bird arrivals. Feedback welcome.
Late April was a fantastic birding time with lots of new species arriving. On 4/21 we recorded 37 total species. On 4/28, from 8-10am alone, we recorded 37 species, with a total of 46 for the day (including the fledgling owl shown above). Unfortunately no CSA members were able to join us for this last-minute birding walk, which had perfect conditions and lots of activity. We’ll hold another walk this coming Saturday, 8-10am, for interested members.
RECORDED IN APRIL (63 species, 28 new)
Great Blue Heron
Broad-Winged Hawk (one pair returning to the same patch of woods nested in last year)
Chestnut-Sided Warbler (unconfirmed, heard only)
Prairie Warbler (unconfirmed)
Yellow-Throated Warbler (unconfirmed, heard only)
MISSING/UNOBSERVED SINCE MARCH (5 species)
Wild Turkey (traces observed, but bird not seen/heard)
Hairy Woodpecker (rare on the farm)
Snow Goose (gone for good to the north)
American Woodcock (almost certainly around, just not recorded)
Dark-Eyed Junco (gone for good to the north)