Spring is finally making a good push forward here in Chester County despite a forecast of more snow on Tuesday. As you can see from the photo above, the patch of snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) on the west end of the preserve are in full bloom. A short distance away was a pactch of winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis), which is a new species for the preserve plant list. Both of these species are introduced and I try not to get to excited about non-native things, but since spring has been such as long time in coming I’ll give them both a pass for this year only. As expected, the one native plant that I found blooming was skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus). But because of the extra moisture that the melting snows have provided I could not get close enough to them without sinking up to my chin in it. So for this installment of LeBlog, we’ll settle for the bloomin’ non-natives.
As mentioned above the melting snows have provided a lot of moisture to the landscape. In particular the field on the north side of the main road coming into the preserve has a lot of standing water. This standing water continues to attract many ducks and shorebirds. Today there were at least 12 Killdeer and at least 8 Wilson’s Snipe, which is the largest number of either that I have ever encountered here. I probably could have gotten a higher count if I had my spotting scope with me. At least 8 Green-winged Teal were with the Mallards and Canada Geese.
I should mention that if you look at a map of the preserve it shows that this field is not within the preserve boundaries. However, I do know that it will be given to the Natural Lands Trust to be apart of the preserve. This land also includes the pond that can be seen from the east end of the Bobolink field. I always check this pond for ducks that I would not otherwise see on the preserve. I have never seen anything different there until today when 10 Ring-necked Ducks were present. There is another farm pond a mile or so to the east were Ring-necked Ducks are regular visitors all throughout the winter.
First of the year birds were a single Osprey over the Brandywine and an Eastern Phoebe on the west end of the preserve. I finally managed to check out the Red-tailed Hawk’s nest site from last season. I was hoping that a Great Horned Owl would have taken up in it but the nest did not seem to have an owl or hawk present at all. In all 37 species were seen. See the details below.
Start time: 11:35
End time: 2:17
Wind: 0-7 mph
Species Total: 37
- Great Blue Heron – 1
- Black Vulture – approximately 20
- Turkey Vulture – approximately 25
- Canada Goose – approximately 400
- Wood Duck – 4
- Mallard – 10
- Green-winged Teal – 8
- Ring-necked Duck – 10, a first for me.
- Osprey – 1, first of the year.
- Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
- Red-tailed Hawk – 3
- American Kestrel – 1
- Killdeer – 12, highest number ever observed on the preserve at one time.
- Wilson's Snipe – 9, highest number ever observed on the preserve at one time.
- Ring-billed Gull – 8
- Herring Gull – 1
- Mourning Dove – 3
- Belted Kingfisher – 1
- Red-bellied Woodpecker – 3
- Downy Woodpecker – 1
- Eastern Phoebe – 1, first of the year.
- Blue Jay – 3
- American Crow – approximately 30
- Tree Swallow – approximately 20
- Carolina Chickadee – 4
- White-breasted Nuthatch – 4, heard only.
- Eastern Bluebird – approximately 15
- American Robin – 7
- Northern Mockingbird – 1
- European Starling – approximately 20
- Eastern Towhee – 5, heard only.
- Song Sparrow – 5
- Dark-eyed Junco – approximately 25
- Northern Cardinal – approximately 10
- Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 15
- House Finch – 3
- American Goldfinch – 5