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Date:11/23/2014 4:18:03 AM
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Waiting For Spring, Part I
It is the middle of March and we are still in deep winter here at La Ferme Sabloneuse. A severe, late winter usually means a sudden spring. This year's compressed spring season will force me to rapidly note the arrival of each migratory bird and the blooming of each noteworthy plant. When it is really, really cold, like this winter where, as my nephew Dave had posted, the ice in Green Bay has reached all the way to Washington Island at the mouth of the bay, even the inland seagulls have departed for the south. Up here, the seagulls are usually around all winter and only a rough winter like this one will force them out. So first this year, will be the seagulls.
The arrival of the seagulls only means that the winter has relented . . . a little. For the first sign of spring one has to wait for the Sandhill Crane. The Sandhill Cranes are one of the tougher migrators. I will hear their unmistakable croaks while there's still snow on the ground. I find it hard to tell the difference between the call of the Sandhill Crane and that of the Raven but all I have to do is look up and find the source of the call. Although the cranes seperate and nest in pairs, they migrate in flocks. In November I always notice massive flocks of cranes gathering over Green Bay in preparation for their trek south. In March I will hear the calls of a pair of cranes, or the plaintive call of a single one lost and on the search for another.
After the Sandhills I will see a few robins. One must keep in mind that some robins will stay in this area throughout the winter if the conditions are right. This winter, however, would be an exception as I've not seen a robin since December. I can predict with some certainty that I will not see a robin until our massive snow pack has melted down to bare ground, at least in spots. Robins are insectivores first and foremost and will only turn to berries and buds when all else is gone. There will be no robins here until they can pick over the bare earth with some expectation of finding at least the shell of an insect. More about this coming up on my next post. -- Gary
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