It seems as though Spring is even later than last year in arriving. But with the start of our 'Signs of Spring' school program, Joanna and I are daily appraising what signs are there.
There is a definite delay in both flower and foliage maturation. We still haven't seen any Salmonberry flowers although these usually appear with the Hummingbirds around St. Patrick's Day. The Elderberry has tight shoots, but they are small and not yet too leafy, although I'm prepared to believe that they are not so much delayed by the cold temperatures as by a need to protect themselves from being squidged by hundreds of little hands, anxious to smell the 'peanut butter plant'.
The white flowering currant outside our office window is in flower, as is the heather, so the early bees have something to visit. And we have seen both bumble and honeybees already, looking for pollen and nectar.
The blueberry bushes are in bud and when we look hard enough, we can find the first few pink flowers of Bog Laurel.
The most lively sign of spring, and ubiquitous, is undoubtedly the bird activity. Their hormones are triggered by the lengthening of days - and there we have it, the days are getting longer irrespective of temperature. The Hummingbirds, whilst late, are here. The Chickadees are caling for mates, the Song Sparrows, Juncos, Towhees and Robins are all noisily advertising their wares. Even the hawks have a nest again in the forest and are doing some Neighbourhood Watching. The average body temperature of birds is 40º, slightly higher than that of mammals, so whilst this requires a fair amount of eating to maintain, it means they can carry on in colder weather.
By contrast, the herptiles are not yet stirring. We have seen a couple of turtles, and two dead bullfrog bodies floated to the surface of the pond one morning, but it will take a few more degrees of warmth before they venture out.
A set of mammals that signal spring to us, are the photographers, and at the weekend, they numbered eight. The main focus of their attention is the bird-feeding station, and these women and men have the patience of Job.
The weather itself is, in reality springlike, let's not forget that 'March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers', but I think we'd perhaps have liked to have seen a few more daffs around the place this month!