Friday, February 21, 2014

Signs of Spring

The boys and I took a walk this morning, our first in several weeks.  We saw 2 major signs that spring is almost here, but I'm not sure which surprised me most on this sunny February 21st....

Which surprises you the most?

The crocuses in full bloom in the courtyard...

...or the garter snake that I found stretched out, sunning, on the path through the draw?

The garter snake definitely votes for him- (or her-?) self!

Basically most of the rest of the discoveries the boys and I made today were more typical of mid-February.  There were wheel bug egg clusters along the undersides of almost every honeylocust branch I examined, and a few clusters on the green ash, redbud, and Amur maple branches.  There was even a lone cluster of wheel bug eggs on the Bradford pear.

Judging from the number of clusters I saw, it should be a jackpot year for wheel bugs!

The eggs look like little urns, all clustered together in their geometric pattern, awaiting the uncapping that will come with warmer weather.  They make me smile every time I notice a new cluster.

Late last summer, I found a little mantis egg cluster in one of the honeylocusts.

I looked for it again today...and found it, looking much more desolate but somehow impregnable.

Near the compost piles, where I had 5 different black and yellow garden spiders feeding off the plentiful insects last summer, I found 6 egg sacs stalwartly holding steady against the winter weather.  This sac was easy to see, hanging from the pallet that forms one side of the cluster of compost piles.

These two egg sacs were a little more camouflaged, nestled in the chainlink fence among remains of last summer's grass and weeds.

Speaking of remains, I heard the coyotes singing to our west last night and wondered if they were in the Back 5.  As the boys and I walked around that area this morning, I saw something that looked a little odd....

Getting closer, I realized it was the carcass of a possum that had obviously been providing a meal for somebody.

The coyotes were eating last night, I presume.

Coming back to the house, I stopped to see if I could get a reasonable shot of one of the rabbit trails that cross the path periodically.  I first noticed this particular trail shortly after we moved in, over 7 years ago now.  It still looks much the same and travels almost exactly the same route as it did when I first saw it.

I've tried to photograph this trail before, but today's photo (which I took from a much lower angle) is probably my favorite so far.  For the first time, I was able to capture the true sense of the trail through the grass.  I wonder how many years the rabbits have been traveling along this same path?

The days go by and the seasons cycle onward.  It's winter now, but obviously spring will be here before we realize.

The seasons go by and the years cycle onward.  Individual rabbits are born, travel that trail, and die.  This land has seen many people come and go; in recent decades, it has been owned by different people.  They come, they watch over the land, and then they move on or die.  We are the owners who have come most recently and we are now traveling the trails here and watching over the plants and animals who share the land with us.

The seasons cycle on....

6 comments:

Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

Love all your finds. The rabbit trail photo is good. Makes one feel like they could go down it too.

Linda Starr said...

never saw a mantis egg cluster before amazing

ProfessorRoush said...

The garter snake surprised me the most! Can't believe it was out already...

ProfessorRoush said...

P.s. Hope you're right about the bounty of wheel bugs; I could use them to enlist against the Japanese beetles!

Kalantikan said...

Those are lovely finds, and beautiful observations in your part of the world. We are the same, as in my few visits home in the province, that is also my preoccupation. And i enjoy it a lot. Thanks for the knowledge.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Hi, I came here after seeing your comment on a post about native bees. I enjoyed experiencing a little of your walk, and am tickled you saw a garter snake already! We have some that live in our compost piles. I am assuming we won't be seeing them very soon. Here in SE Nebraska, winter is not easing its grip quite yet, although we have had one day into the 60s. For the next week or so, it is expected to be quite cold.