This week started off almost 20C warmer than just a week ago – the seasonal changes are so fast in North America, almost like throwing a switch to turn the lights on. Many crocuses around this week … splendid splashes of colour and very welcome, but on the other hand:
You might think that after thousands of years of coming up too soon and getting frozen, the crocus family would have had a little sense knocked into it.
Monday saw the first Mourning Cloak butterfly in the garden but it wouldn’t settle for its portrait, preferring to just flutter around about ten feet of the ground before disappearing. The same day produced hive bees working the recently opened crocus flowers and a pair of tiny black and white moths, also attracted to the crocus flowers. Moths are a great interest to us but they are the very devil to identify as not only are so many of the smaller, less flashy species all pretty much painted with the same black/white/brown/grey colouration there are also many individual variations within a given species in the same way as people can have brown, red or straw coloured hair. We will make a note here once we have worked out what that little moth was, but meanwhile we did get a photograph for posterity.
By Tuesday a lovely sunrise was replaced by cloud later in the day and even a brief thunderstorm. Rain set in overnight and we were surprised to see the next morning a Mallard swimming down the front drainage ditch until, on reaching the culvert under the drive, it hauled itself out and waddled across the road to check out our neighbours. On occasion at this time of the year we have even had prospecting Mallards in our rather small garden pond but they always move on.
Wednesday evening, after some damp weather, brought out a pair (there may be more than one pair) of Song Sparrows who were going through some pretty active pair-bonding exercises in the shrubs on the south side of the garden while a rabbit, looking particularly chubby so perhaps Mrs. Bunny, was hopping around and making a good meal from emerging shoots.
Next day the rabbit was at it again but this time was caught in the act of nibbling the tips off crocus leaves which is pretty sinful behaviour if he/she plans on living here much longer. Fortunately, it seemed to be the leaves that were of interest rather than the actual flowers (see photograph). A small flock of Dark-eyed Juncos spent a happy time zooming about the garden between periods on the ground turning over the leaf litter seeking out seeds and small insects. Clumps of purple crocuses were very prominent all over the site – a few yellow and white ones hang on from year to year but it’s the purple ones that really enjoy the conditions and multiply vigorously.
By Good Friday the temperature was up to the mid-teens and the sun was growing hot. Not at all hot by Montreal summer standards but excessively hot for the gardeners whose metabolisms are still set at winter levels. The male Song Sparrow(s) were seeking out the tallest tree tops to declaim their territory and warn off rivals. Daffodil shoots are noticeably higher and puschkinia (pale blue) and chionodoxa (dark blue) flowers are just starting to appear.
A neighbouring cat has taken to visiting and left a small dead mouse for us to find. It will have to be watched because it’s going to have a nasty fright if it takes an interest in any of the birds. Cats should be kept indoors – period.
Buds are beginning to swell on most of the trees and bushes. The first leaves will not now be long in appearing and there will be almost full leaf cover by the end of the first week in May. An Eastern Phoebe visited and perched on the deck handrail.
Last, but by means least, the first shoots of our garlic crop have appeared.
Next week will include a once every five years de-mudding of the garden pond before the waterfall can be switched on to welcome migrating warblers and the like. Readers may anticipate exciting tales from the depths – not to be missed.
More photographs follow … as last week, most are in an auto-running slideshow so you can sit back and enjoy. Captions are attached.