Continuing my ramble as I curved up and away from the banks of the mighty muddy Credit I found some new treasures on the long slow climb up the ravine hill.
Before the sun vanished entirely, I was fortunate enough to find a flying piece of brown velvet land to bask in a patch of beams.
This was my first Mourning Cloak butterfly of the year. Mourning Cloaks often over winter as adults. They can emerge while there are still patches of snow. They retreat into dormancy again if winter makes an unexpected chilly return.
According to Butterflies and Moths of North America adult Mourning Cloaks like to sip oak sap. They will occasionally also feed on rotten fruit and some flowers. Given the rough weather we’ve had this spring and the cold these butterflies are more likely to find sap from a broken limb than the fruit or flowers.
Sharing a nearby patch of the same burst of sunshine was another first: my first Chipmunk of spring. While I’m not fond of chippies when they get into my bird seed or Rice Krispies while camping, I do think they are wonderful when they are eating acorns and (magic?) mushrooms. This one seemed especially shiny and bright considering our long not too easy winter.
Although I hadn’t found her before, I finally glimpsed my Eastern Phoebe and caught a quick shot. She (actually I don’t know what sex it was!) was perching on small shrubs, flicking her tail as only a Phoebe can, and diving periodically to catch some luckless insect. Given there were lots of large stonefly-sized flying insects out and about I think she was sufficiently suffonsified when she fluttered off deeper into the tulgy.
Of early spring flowers there was a noticeable lack. The trout lilies (or dog-toothed violets as I used to call them) are only short leaves so far. I didn’t notice any coltsfoot although it was probably out. Even the dandelions haven’t started yet. Strange days indeed!
One of the resident pair of Coopers Hawks did a fly over, which made for an interesting silhouette and a sudden cessation of chatter from the smaller birds.
Once the alarm passed, however, it was back to business along the feeder trails. Song Sparrows, Dark Eyed Juncos, Black Capped Chickadees and White Breasted Nuthatches all took their turns wolfing down the black oil sunflower seeds or carrying them off to cache for later snacks.
This is a female Golden Crowned Kinglet who wishes she could have a little privacy. Sorry, Mama.
Yet another (or the same?) flock of Golden Crowned Kinglets swept around me for a brief but festive visit. These birds respond well to thin quiet whistles. They will often peek to see who’s making the noise before darting further up. The long climb up the Credit River ravine hillside often puts one at eye level with the Kinglets, even when they think they are way up in the tree tops.
The rain began to spatter down through the leafless trees as I reached the top. About three pair of cardinals were skirmishing near the upper feeders. The red males looked particularly vivid in contrast to the blue-sky blue scylla in a carpet of bloom at their feet.
All in all it was a lovely spring ramble. I’ll visit Riverwood again this spring and summer but once the leaves come out it will be much more difficult to get a really good look at the nesting antics of the birds and beasts, so today allowed a welcome glimpse into their daily lives.
Have you had a great spring walk through the wilderness? Please share your joys with a comment.