The Notes of Spring

“The first pleasant day of spring comes out like a woodchuck and then goes in again.” – Adapted from Henry David Thoreau

March 20
The winter of 2013 was relatively mild, not much snow and very little ice on the larger Finger Lakes. Typical of spring, however, it arrived at our house on Keuka Lake with temperatures struggling to reach 32 degrees and a stiff wind blowing from the north.

March 31
A sharp-shinned hawk busted out of our wood lot in hot pursuit of a cardinal that was at the feeder. Unable to capture the cardinal, the hawk perched in a nearby tree, searching for another potential meal.

April 1
A mild day greeted anglers fishing the Finger Lakes’ tributaries on the opening day of trout season. Some nice rainbow trout were landed in Naples Creek.

April 5
Male bluebird singing from the lilacs this morning.

April 9
71 degrees with April showers.

April 10
After yesterday’s rain I hiked up to the vernal pond in the back woods. I heard the duck-like quacking of male wood frogs calling females. At the edge of the pond I lifted some leaf litter from the surface of the water and uncovered spotted salamanders that had also migrated to the pond to breed. Wood frogs and spotted salamanders, usually the first amphibians to emerge from underground hibernation after warm spring rains, are both a little late this year because March was cold.

April 13
Turkey gobbling at the edge of the woods just after daybreak.

April 28
White trillium in full bloom.

May 2
Goldfinch are molting, replacing their drab winter feathers with bright yellow breeding colors.

May 8
Photographed a rabbit out back that had several gashes in its right ear. I’m guessing it was the same rabbit that encountered a mink last winter; tracks in a fresh snow revealed the surprise attack. The blood trail showed the rabbit escaped, evidently with only an injured ear.

May 9
Warblers migrating through the Finger Lakes. Some will remain here to nest, but many species will rest only a few days before heading north to their breeding grounds.

May 13
Spring is progressing slowly this year, and as a result the colors of the season are long-lasting. Lilacs are in full bloom.

May 14
Too nice not to go fishing! The lake is flat calm and crystal clear. Even though good perch fishing requires a little chop on the water, we casted our jigs baited with fathead minnows. 20 – 30 perch swam toward the bait, stared at it, and swam away. Eventually we changed our strategy and finally caught 20 nice perch for dinner.

May 16
Plenty of rain and 87 degrees. Rainfall has been above average this spring, and everywhere I travel in the Finger Lakes the landscape is vivid green.

May 23
For the fourth consecutive year, loons have successfully bred on the east branch of Keuka Lake. My neighbor reported an adult loon near the shore with five chicks on her back. Loon babies are called chicks until they can swim on their own.

by Bill Banaszewski

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