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Red-winged Blackbird

I started my walk down the road an hour and 15 minutes after the solstice. An eighth of a mile along the moon was high enough to see. It was as big as I remember seeing a moon (it’s supposed to be 15% bigger). It’s intense glow (it’s supposed to be 30% brighter) made it seem even bigger. A Great horned owl might have spotted it too; unless he was just calling from the tree with the Osprey nest because it was dusk. In fact, lots of birds were calling with their final messages of the day and maybe their bellies full of worms.

This has been a super year for viewing super moons right from my stoop. I reported here on the super moon eclipse in January that took a path that conveniently allowed me to follow it from the mud room landing. I managed only to notice how white the meadow was in February so awash with moon light that I had to go to go outside to make sure it had not snowed. Tonight’s moon followed me up and down the road as it climbed, lost some of it’s yellow and, ironically, both filled out to its fullest and shrank.

My photos will show you that you had to be here to fully experience this and that I don’t know how to take photographs of glowing objects in low light.

Not surprisingly, the National Geographic has better photos than mine — though they aren’t of this Worm moon — and a clear explanation of the moon’s orbit. Two facts about this moon struck me. First, the moon is only 223,309 miles away. I have easily flown that many miles just as an adult. Maybe people are not crazy to think that soon we’ll be invading. Second, the next time a super moon will rise this close to the equinox, 19 years from now, I might not be around to see it just as I hope not to be around for non-astronauts landing on the moon.

The full moon of March apparently is called the Worm moon because the sun has warmed the earth enough for worms to begin moving around, feeding birds including American robins, who dutifully have begun to return. The Farmer’s Almanac says that native Americans called the March full moon the Crow moon. They were on the something: the crows came back about a week ago along with the FOY Red-winged black birds, a New Englander’s real harbinger of spring.

The crocuses and the daffodils also attest to the warming earth and the longer day. These popped out of the ground earlier this month. The skunk cabbage appeared on the 1st. Who needs iCal. Certainly not our orb or the flora and fauna.

 

 

 

 

It’s a busy day today — the second full day of Passover, Easter and April Fool’s Day — to start the first full month of spring. Looking ahead, on the 4th, Martin Luther King will have been dead 50 years. On the 15th, Abe Lincoln will have been dead 153 years. And on the 11th, Edward Wightman will have been dead 406 years. Not one of them died of natural causes. Assassins bullets, I need not say, took the first two. The last burning at the stake in England for heresy took the last, my ancestor.

The cruelest month opened with a brief shower that finished before I could get through the Times. My Easter bonnet for my daily walk down the road was not a rain hood but a grey fleece ear warmer. It may be 50 degrees, however a wind was lowering the feels-like factor quite a bit. The general direction of the wind has shifted, as is appropriate for the season, to originate in the south(west) causing a pattern of cold out, warm home that is the reverse of winter walks — a harbinger of hot out, hot home.

But before leapfrogging to summer, here’s some record keeping of late winter. On 5 March, the Red-winged Blackbirds announced their return with their welcome but harsh gurgle. Two weeks later, migratory American Robins were doing their run-run-run-stop-cock the head-peck the ground routine all over the yard. About the same time I had my first conversation of the year with a White-throated Sparrow:”Oh Sam pee peebody peebody” we took turns saying to each other several times. Down the road at 800 in a stand of spruces with an understory of green briar bramble, an Eastern Towhee scolds me whenever I pass to “drink my tea, tea, tea.” I trust my Towhee will return soon.

The Eastern Phoebes should be back, but I haven’t heard or seen them yet. The male will arrive first. When his mate gets here, they’ll take up residence somewhere in the electricity-producing infrastructure, either between the rafters and the PV panels in the folly or between the meter-that-runs-backwards and the north wall of the guest house. I don’t remove the nest I can reach because they seem willing to reuse it. The House Sparrows are here again. Is that why the Eastern Bluebird has not taken up residence in a nest box? Bluebirds have been reported elsewhere nearby for several weeks so I fear they just don’t find Kennel House homey enough.

Last season I had five pairs of Northern Cardinals but a female died (was eaten maybe but was not burned at the stake) in the fall. I have seen four males together at the feeders but not five. I might be down a pair going into the mating season.

The spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) are chirping from the pond as of Wednesday. (Is crucifer related to crucifixion?) The ground hog seems to have moved house from under the canoe to under the large brush compost pile. The entrance to the new house is easily accessible for a have-a-heart trap. But suppose I caught him, what then (the assassin’s bullet)?

Ground Hog hole

The crocuses and the daffodils in the lee of the house are in bloom. An Italian honey bee was taking pollen from the crocuses as I was trying to take a photo only to realize that my battery had just died. That’s likely a honey bee of mine from a generation that escaped my careless beekeeping. I popped the inner cover off one of my hives (no tool needed); the smell of honey wafted up. Clearly my hives didn’t starve, but no bees emerged to check on what I was doing. Maybe they could not rotate to the honey in the long cold.

For the record, I pruned the blueberry bushes — the cultivars — today before it SNOWS later this evening! Historical records say it can snow here until the 10th.

We abide by the laws of nature around here so come May Day, there will be other deaths, timely and otherwise, more first-of-year (FOY) bird sightings and early season plant awakenings to recount from this first full month of spring. There is the fate of the ground hog to consider as well. But if past years predict, I’ll be counting how many pups were in the litter and survived the first moth of spring.