Bloodroot, Toads and Ospreys: Spring Rushes In!

By Derek Stoner, Family Program Coordinator

A Bloodroot unfurls it petals at Middle Run Natural Area. Image by Derek Stoner.

Like a runaway train, Spring keeps barreling down the tracks of nature, delivering cargo with speed and determination.  One day the ground is bare, and the next day there are flowers— or other natural delights. 

On Monday morning, the beautiful white flowers of Bloodroot burst open by the entrance to Ashland Nature Center.  Last evening at Middle Run Natural Area, the brown forest floor showed white sprinkles of Bloodroot and pink dashes of Spring Beauty in bloom. 

A male American Toad embraces his mate on the way to their marsh breeding grounds. Image by Derek Stoner.

The march of the American Toads to the marshes began this week, as warmer weather and rainy conditions coaxed these amphibians from their winter hiding places.  Marshes, vernal pool, and puddles will play host to the breeding masses and trilling calls of toads for the next few weeks.

An Osprey perches with its fish lunch near Indian River Inlet. Image by Derek Stoner

Across the state, the ospreys are returning to their favorite hunting grounds.  The pair at the Wilmington Marsh returned this week to their nest near the DuPont Environmental Education Center.  These fish-eating hawks spend their winters in Central and South America, and return in spring to breed in the fish-rich Delaware River estuary.

A male Eastern Phoebe gives his call at Middle Run Natural Area. Image by Derek Stoner.

With the emergence of flying insects, fly-catching birds have returned.  The Eastern Phoebe is a common flycatcher, and during early spring is often found catching early-emerging aquatic insects like midges, gnats, and caddisflies.  Listen for their emphatic pheeebee! next time you are outside.

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