Natural events, April 2015

What a pleasant month April was this year, with May following its example. Reasonably stable weather and seasonal temperatures made it a joy to be outside. We keep asking why we couldn’t have had a spring like this when farming full-time?

The limited responses to last month’s Natural Events post makes it clear that we can’t justify putting too much time into these going forward (sorry, faraway friends!). However, we also can’t bring ourselves to break continuity with this multi-year journal of observations. So for now we’re going to try to carry on more efficiently. One change we’re making is to omit the bird listing from the monthly post. Not to worry, we’re still keeping bird records, and we look forward to finding another way to present bird data on the website in future.

This has been the most flowery spring we can remember. The redbuds bloomed for a very long time, and dogwoods flowered in our woods for the first time in our experience. Many types of wild and domestic fruit crops were loaded with blossoms and now proto-fruits, leading to high hopes of a fructavore year for raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, grapes, apples, and pears. Below are a few shots selected from the many Joanna took on pleasant woods walks. Left are Virginia Bluebells, center cedar apple rust, and right domestic azaleas.

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Joanna found this snake (a Yellow-Bellied Racer, we think) about 5 feet up in some thorny blackberries; it raced up there when she disturbed a pair on the ground, probably mating.

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We took advantage of perfect late April conditions to burn part of our pasture and some fence lines, hoping to set back the fescue that keeps encroaching into these areas. Late spring is supposed to be a good time to burn for fescue control, but it’s hard to get conditions just right in Missouri. This year, things had greened up enough for safety, but the recent weather was dry enough to allow the ground litter to burn. We’ll track the results with interest.April_1 It’s also been a great birding spring. Scarlet Tanagers have appeared in unheard-of numbers; one day we observed four different individuals of this beautiful species, and they continue to show themselves brazenly in open treetops. We’ve gone many springs without seeing even one, they’re usually so secretive. Our early May birding field trip here recorded 41 species in under 4 hours, pretty representative of the birding here this spring.

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