by Christine Hanrahan

Willow catkin

I am happy to tell you that the FWG’s April photo blog is now up and running. I was at last able to drive to the garden (hooray!) and, after an absence of 10 weeks, it felt good to be back.

As I got out of the car, the first thing I heard was the wonderful sound of multiple song sparrows singing. There were at least 6 in the BYG and another 14 or 15 around the rest of the garden.

After spending a few minutes in the BYG, I walked over to the pond and new woods, and immediately saw a pair of american kestrels near the barn. It has been a long time since a pair regularly nested in the bird box there. In fact, the new bird box (now several years old) has never had kestrels nesting in it. So, who knows? We’ll keep our fingers crossed. The female flew off to the barn, while the male circled around and came back to the same tree. But after about 5 minutes, they both flew off over the Arboretum.

Another happy sign was the sound and sight of a tree swallow soaring over the pond, which is still half frozen, while snow is still deeper than we’d like around the edges. However, the promised rain and milder temperatures should get rid of it soon. Other birds included a flock of common redpolls singing away in the ash woods, juncos trilling, robins and cardinals singing away, and of course all the usual suspects, such as chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, american goldfinches, and so on. A lone common raven was calling from across the canal, and just after I left the garden, a cooper’s hawk landed on a post along Prince of Wales Drive.

Chipmunks are common around the BYG especially, and I heard a groundhog giving its squeaky call. Lots of things to see, but we can expect to see lots more over the next few weeks. If we are lucky, we will get breeding wood frogs in the pond (the ones that sound like ducks quacking), the first ones we hear at FWG. (Chorus frogs, almost always the first frogs of spring, are being heard now in other parts of the region, as are spring peepers, but, alas, not at our pond.) Last year there were very few wood frogs, but in previous years, we’ve heard them over the period of a week, though never in great numbers.

Willow catkins are fresh and fuzzy and will soon be laden with pollen, attracting a variety of early emerging insects, particularly bees such as Andrenids, Colletes, and Nomadas. Speaking of insects, I noticed Muscid flies all over the garden.

The blog has many more photos: