Signs of Spring Challenge

All posts tagged Signs of Spring Challenge

By Derek Stoner, Seasonal Program Team Leader

A male Wood Frog makes his way to the breeding pools near the Ashland Marsh. Photo by Derek Stoner.

A male Wood Frog makes his way to the breeding pools near the Ashland Marsh. Photo by Derek Stoner.

The days are getting warmer, and all around us, Signs of Spring abound.   The first wildflowers of Spring are popping through the leaf litter layer, while amphibians like Wood Frogs are emerging from their Winter lair to make their way to wetlands for breeding purposes.

You are invited to take part in the Sixth Annual Signs of Spring Challenge through the Delaware Nature Society.  Each week for the next nine weeks, you encouraged to get outside and look for signs of plants emerging and animals arriving.  The species we selected as classic Signs of Spring are found widely throughout most of Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania.

Clusters of Snowdrops-- a non-native wildflower- are emerging as the weather warms. Photo by Hilary Stoner.

Clusters of Snowdrops– a non-native wildflower- are emerging as the weather warms. Photo by Hilary Stoner.

The challenge is to find all 20 of these plants and animals, and make a note about the date that you find them.  Many are already out there and ready to be seen in this first full week of March, while others (like Barn Swallows and Trout Lily) are likely still weeks away from appearing.

Here is the link to open the Signs of Spring Challenge spreadsheet : Signs of Spring Challenge 2016

Enjoy exploring the outdoors this Spring, and please come out to one of our Delaware Nature Society-managed properties to explore and search for Signs of Spring with us!

Check out the upcoming programs through the Delaware Nature Society that will connect you with Signs of Spring during the month of March:

Early Spring Frogs and Woodcocks at Coverdale Farm,  Wednesday March 16, 5:30 to 8:00pm

Spring Equinox Hike and Campfire at Ashland, Sunday March 20, 5:00 to 7:00pm

Call 302-239-2334, extension 0 to register for these programs.

By Derek Stoner, Conservation Project Coordinator

Eastern Phoebes are back and calling loudly from locations along the Red Clay Creek at Ashland.  Photo by Derek Stoner.

Eastern Phoebes are back and calling loudly from locations along the Red Clay Creek at Ashland. Photo by Derek Stoner.

Spring has absolutely burst forth in the past couple weeks, and there are lots of exciting sightings to report upon.  The first Skunk Cabbage in bloom was noted on March 18, while and an Eastern Phoebe arrived on March 20.

The First of Season Garter Snake showed upon March 27, while the first Anglewing butterfly of the season was noted fluttering by on April 4.

Violets burst forth in bloom at Ashland on April 11.  Photo by Derek Stoner.

Violets burst forth in bloom at Ashland on April 11. Photo by Derek Stoner.

With temperatures reaching almost 80 degrees last week, plants burst forth in bloom:  Bloodroot flowers were noted on April 9, Spring Beauty blossoms on April 10, and Violet flowers on April 11.

The warmth also brought along the first sighting of Barn Swallow on April 6, and the American Toads emerged on April 7.  The first Snapping turtle of Spring was noted in the Ashland Marsh on April 10, while the first Water Snake made an appearance on April 11.

At this point in the season (April 15), there are only three remaining official Signs of Spring yet to be observed (or reported) at Ashland Nature Center:  House Wren, Robin building nest, and Trout Lily blooming.

Pleas let us know what Signs of Spring you are seeing in your backyard!

By Derek Stoner, Conservation Project Coordinator

To continue a fun tradition begun two years ago, the Delaware Nature Society invites you to participate in the Third Annual Signs of Spring Challenge.   The basic rules are simple:  All Signs must be observed on the grounds of the Ashland Nature Center, in order for this to be a fair contest.  Come visit the center and help us discover the first flowers, the first frogs, and the first turtles of the season!   

We also encourage you to keep a blank form at home where you can record the observations you make in your own backyard or local park.   The most fun part of this contest is that you are primed to be looking and listening at all times for these signs, wherever you are this Spring.  Write down the date and location of your first observations.  You will learn a lot and become a better naturalist by being part of this challenge.

Bloodroot is one of the first wildflowers to bloom in Spring in our region. Look for it to appear in the next month! Image by Derek Stoner.

The selected Signs of Spring include these six flowering plants: Snowdrops, Skunk Cabbage, Bloodroot, Spring Beauty, Trout Lily, and Violet.   The first bloom of these flowers found at Ashland is declared the first of Spring for this contest.

To participate, simply download the entry form:  Signs of Spring Contest 2013

Two Signs have already occurred this week:  the first Groundhog and the first blooming Snowdrops!  These emergence dates are already marked on the entry form and everyone gets these two guesses correct.

Fill out your guesses as to which of the remaining 18 species will occur each week, and send this form back (as an email or fax) to Derek Stoner (derek@delawarenaturesociety.org) by Monday, March 4. 

If you would like some hints as to possible timing of these Signs of Spring, check out the past two year’s results:  

Signs of Spring Contest 2011 

 Signs of Spring Challenge 2012 Final

Good luck and enjoy observing the Signs of Spring!