It was another beautiful Spring in Glen Providence Park, but much later than the unusually hot spring of 2012… plants emerged as long as 17 days later! With such a marked difference from the previous Spring, it was a great opportunity to observe phenology– the study of timing in nature.
The lovely ephemeral Bloodroot emerged on April 3 in the same location we had noticed it last year (in fuller bloom) during our Ephemerals Walk on St. Patrick’s Day. So we did a little phenology test- in 2012, American Toads had emerged in force at the pond about 4 days after the Bloodroot flowers. We predicted similar timing this year… and what do you know, the toads’ loud trilling at the pond began 5 days after the Bloodroot buds! It was again fun to watch the antics of the dozens (hundreds?) of comical toads at the pond!
As the Bloodroot started to recede for the year, the enchanting ephemeral Trout Lily began to bloom, about 3 days after the toads congregated- we will definitely monitor the timing again in 2014! And we will add other plants to our phenology observations- like when the fern fiddleheads emerge among the patches of Trout Lily. There is so much to observe during Spring’s progression of blooms, from delicate Redbud flowers to the spectacular and elegant Silverbell. It was particularly exciting to find a small patch of the uncommon native ephemeral Trillium!
While the plants and local wildlife seem to respond to temperature cues, migrating birds and butterflies follow signals to migrate in the places they are wintering. The Wood Thrush started singing on May 5, four days later than last year, and we first noticed the Gray Catbird five days later than last year. So those birds were not as delayed as the 17 days for local plants- which means migrating species can arrive out of sync with when their local food sources emerge.
We are endlessly intrigued watching the wildlife in the park- we saw an Eastern Ribbon snake wrapped around a Common Garter Snake, which was busy trying (unsuccessfully) to swallow a toad. The lucky toad hopped away a few minutes later! We also watched an amazing display by four Common Flickers flying in and out of a tree, and they appeared to be courting- they would look at each other and sway their heads from side to side, fan their lovely yellow tails, and do other showy maneuvers. You can see them in our photos below!
In our 1.1 Acre Project, we continued to document plants, wildlife and features in the construction area for the 3rd Street Dam, including the historical springs.
Whether working on our Early Spring Cleanup in March, exploring the park on our 1941 Nature Guide & Spring Ephemerals Walk in April, or helping with the CRC Streams Cleanup in May, Spring is simply enchanting throughout Glen Providence Park!
You can click on any photo below for a closer look, and scroll through them all- and you can also view them on our flickr page! There are more pictures in our facebook albums, and you can compare our 2013 Spring to last year in our photojournals for March, April and May of 2012.