Today’s observed sign that spring is on the way: frisky squirrels making out in the back yard!!
Since I’m not usually around during March, I decided it would be fun to take the opportunity to observe and document the gradual approach of arrival of spring. The weather in Connecticut usually doesn’t start feeling spring-like until mid-April, but I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for subtle clues!
March 4: It’s about 27° out, with a layer of hard, frozen snow on the ground (I can walk on top without falling through). But the snow has melted enough so that the rocks in the woods are sticking out, and today I saw my first chipmunk out from hibernation (yaaaay!!!), along with our infrequent but always very welcome visitor, the Northern Flicker!
Weird, the snow is frozen so hard on top now that I can walk on it without falling through! When I do break through, it’s about 10” deep, I think… up to the top of my brown boots. Things have melted a lot over the past several days.
I found the apple I threw at the deer… it sank into the snow and then got buried when more snow came, but now it was revealed again thanks to the melting. I moved it to the tray, so they should definitely find it. I want to see that apple eaten, deer!! When I went out in front to check the propane level, I noticed they have massively eaten the lower branches of the arborvitae this year. They do that every winter, but it’s much more extreme than usual. Food must be pretty scarce with all this snow. But they are pretty well-behaved other than chomping the arborvitae and azaleas (which I don’t really care about), so it’s okay. We can pretend it’s an intentional lollipop pruning style. :)
Two hungry deer were back at the bird tray just now (in broad daylight!) looking for food, but there wasn’t any, so they ate snow with fallen seed scraps. I threw an apple at them (a free one from Panera; not one of my special honeycrips), but they ran away. I hope they come back and find it!
Last night when I went to bed there were so many deer prints on the unplowed driveway, it looked like they’d held a dance there! Were they just having fun romping around where the snow was really shallow, or what?! It’s hard for them everywhere else because it’s deep.
I went out and shoveled things today, and then I tromped around in my snowshoes (passed down from Dean’s mom) and followed the animal tracks! There are lots of bunny tracks and deer tracks.
The top photo shows the bunny’s tracks across the top of succulent hill (they are hard to see, but they’re there), and the second one is where the deer tracks lead off into the woods on the other side of the house (near the Little Lime hydrangea). The deer tracks circle the whole house, but the bunny tracks are all over in the succulent hill/shed/bed on the side of the house area. I wonder why it hopped to the bed? Is there anything to eat there? The placement of the feet is so weird and cute.
In the photo with the shed in it, there are two sets of bunny tracks—one in the foreground, and one close to the shed. I wish I could see the bunny in the winter-time!
It was beautiful out today, and WARM. In the 40s! I felt bad about ruining the pretty snow by stomping around in my snowshoes, but it was cool seeing where the tracks went, and it’ll get messed up eventually anyway, I suppose.
There’s a new trail in the fresh snow, and it follows the old trail! Lots of feet-drag marks this time. It passes by the feeders, crosses the yard, and swings around front past the arborvitae. Sorry, deer, no wildlife mix on the tray today.
I happened to look out the window tonight at dusk when I was on my way out, and saw the footprint culprits!!! :-D I quickly snapped a few pics before I had to leave. The bird/squirrel food tray and bowl are just the right heights for a snack!
They followed the same exact path they had already tread. I think some of the footprints look larger than they should because more than one foot has stepped in the same hole (and also because of the collapsed snow, like you can see in the last picture). Sorry they’re a little grainy; it was getting dark.
Footprint collection from the back yard today! I think the weird one is a rabbit, the hoof-y ones are deer, and the cute feety ones are squirrels. The little bird-y ones are obviously birds. :) I’ve never seen the rabbit during the winter, but the rabbit prints are in the area where he likes to hop in the summertime!
It was supposedly in the upper 50s today; it was rainy, so I’m not sure if it was really that warm, but I didn’t wear a coat, at any rate. Tonight it’s creaking-and-crackingly gusty, with lows around 9°, and tomorrow the forecast is for 13°. Crazy. I went to evening Pilates today, so when I got home I went out in the dark and put out lots of food for the birds and squirrels, imagining them waking up in the morning unbearably cold expecting empty feeders and then discovering all the new seed, nuts and suet magically waiting, like Christmas morning.
We have a red-tailed hawk visitor in the back yard today, in the tall red maple straight out our windows! He perched there for about an HOUR, I think!
He is so beautiful! These pictures are in max zoomy mode (14x) on my camera, but not cropped or enhanced at all. We watched him with binoculars and he did all sorts of entertaining stuff, like yawning, spinning his head all around in different directions, and scratching like a dog. I can’t believe how BLUE the sky is today, after yesterday’s/last night’s snow. It’s breathtaking.