I probably shouldn't be confessing my erosion-causing sins on a public forum, but: today I went walking on the muddy trails in an around Lester Park. In fact, I chose that area specifically because it has some swampy spots, and I wanted to see if there was any skunk cabbage. Greentangle saw skunk cabbage last week in New England, which is not all that climatically different than Duluth, but I did not have any such luck. It has been a weirdly warm spring, but it might still be too early here. The shallower vernal pools are completely thawed, but the deeper ones are still icy. There's still ice in the smaller, shadier creeks, too, although both Lester River and Amity Creek are both churning, muddy and dangerous.
Strawberries, marsh marigolds and other forbs, plus a few ferns, are starting to green up, and the tree buds are swelling, but the landscape is still mostly brown. Temps have been in the 40s or 50s for two weeks (hitting 60, a record high, earlier this week) and the snow is almost completely gone now except for a few gritty drifts that look out of place.
In the woods, I saw one robin around for grub, and of course there was the usual crowds of chickadees and nuthatches. I heard a woodpecker drumming in the distance once, and a few hours later heard a pileated call. Waxwings were briefly heard but not seen. Three bald eagles (two adult and one juvenile) were cruising over the main branch of Amity, and I flushed a grouse while walking through the birch and hemlock woods at the far northern reaches of the ski trails in Lester. When I was at Northland I kicked up grouse at least semi-regularly, but I rarely get to see them here in Duluth. It's always a thrill to be jolted out of your own thought by that explosion of wings in the trees.
Birds in the News Redux: Mass Extinctions
5 days ago