It has been busy. Crazy busy. Things are left undone as priorities shift by the minute. It's especially true for this transition period from a long persistent winter to an emerging spring that is determined to come. Spring peepers are trilling between snow squalls. Geese and swans are pushing north against continuing Arctic fronts. My dissertation chapter deadline has long passed while I struggle to ready a trashy looking yard and trashier garden for the day when I will wake up to temps in the fifties. And then all my bees died in a flash freeze event. Crazy season.
All that said, it's been a fun few weeks to watch the arrival of Wilson's snipe at Swan Harbor Farm, an assurance that spring is here even though the snowflakes are flying. With their needle-nose plier beaks, these wetland birds are pushing north despite the ice and snow that still blanket our fields. Most people don't know they exist, and those few who've even heard of a snipe think it's just a Boy Scout rite of passage. But they are real and they are hard to spot with their thick jacket of camouflage. To me they mean spring - dammit! I should have been hurrying to my next meeting but instead I sat along the farm lane and admired them. What's fifteen minutes late when I might only get to see this once this year?
Some of the best crazy-making in early spring are the wild calling of killdeer as small flocks rush in to feed and impress potential mates. It's a little early for nesting and most of these birds are pushing north as well, but the strutting and dancing has begun accompanied by much frantic calling. I prefer their crazy calling to the incessant beeping and pinging of my phone. I turned it off to listen to the killdeer and missed a call from one of my doctoral advisors. That's how spring goes, folks.
|Courtesy of the PA Game Commission.|
The hit of this persistent winter and determined spring party has been the nesting bald eagles just twenty miles west of where I live in South Central PA. There are a lot of bald eagles raising young right now on the Susquehanna just a few minutes down the road from me, but his Hanover pair was wired up to a live cam this winter and have endured a lot of snow, rain, wind, and very cold temps to finally hatch out two tiny grey balls of rock n' sock 'em sibling rivalry. The PA Game Commission announced that as of yesterday over one million people have logged on to watch and as one those watchers, I can attest to how anxious we've all been! I will admit to staring for hours at this live cam during the hatching period of two days while not really paying attention to paying bills and emailing. Priorities.
In my busy travels for work these past two weeks I was able to catch an hour's hike at Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge near Washington D.C. It was one of the warmer days we've had this March though still with a cold breeze - but still, an abundance of spring peepers and a few wood frogs were calling like crazy. The next day it snowed. I'd like to do a post dedicated just to this fascinating place but will wait for the green and warmth to arrive to do a good hike through and long visit. I felt cheated from my nature experience as I hurried from the trail to get back to work - only to find my car was running very rough and I had to go get help from the refuge maintenance guys.
My house is messy, smells of chicken poop, and covered in feathers that I try daily to sweep up. They belong to the last two of my laying hens, survivors from a raccoon attack that happened early one morning a week ago out in the coop. One is hurt pretty bad, another is lame. These two were saved simply because I had been walking the dogs at 5am to get ready or an early day at work to drive hours to another meeting or workshop. I forget which. But in any case, it was still dark and the dogs ran to coop to intercept the huge and hungry raccoon that had already taken three birds. I barely made the meeting on time, arriving in southern Maryland just as the speaker began. Crazy. As of yesterday the coop is now predator proofed and these healed hens - well, one with a limp - are headed back out to the barn. Today I clean. Clean everything.
|Courtesy of Hyperbole and A Half.|
Keep up on all the goings on at the Hanover, PA, Codorus State Park live eagle cam: