By Derek Stoner, Conservation Project Coordinator
The past two weeks saw a flurry of activity as new animals emerged and arrived, and plants burst into full bloom. On April 14, a male House Wren burst into song near the Ashland Lodge. This cheerful songbird is a fantastic Sign of Spring, and became Sign #18 out of 20 for the Spring 2011 at Ashland.
The next day, April 15, I received a text message from Amy White, with photo attached: Trout Lily in bloom! Along Red Salamander Run, downstream from the Ashland Covered Bridge, these brilliant bright yellow wildflowers burst forth with color. Sign #19 out of 20!
The only Sign left on the List? Northern Water Snake. And on April 20, a group of school kids participating in the appropriately-named “Herp Hunters” day camp discovered Ashland’s first Water Snake of 2011. The three-foot long snake basked in the 70-degree sunshine in the marsh, finally awakened after a long winter’s rest.
And there you have it: 20 Signs of Spring observed over the course of nine weeks. Every week had at least one new sign emerge or appear, and the level of observation and vigilance by visitors to Ashland helped to ensure we didn’t miss anything happening in nature. The skilled eyes and ears of many observers helped to create a unique record of Spring’s arrival in 2011 at Ashland Nature Center. How did your Signs of Spring compare at your local park or in your own backyard? What will next year hold?
Congratulations to Amy White, who correctly guessed and matched 7 out of the 20 Signs with their actual week of appearance. This game is more of a Challenge than Contest, as it involves a good bit of luck at guessing Mother Nature’s timing in the fickle world of Spring. Amy will receive a special framed poster of the 20 Signs of Spring 2011 at Ashland, and a copy of the poster will be displayed in the Ashland lobby for all visitors to enjoy.