There have been “signs” of hopefully approaching spring for a couple of weeks but now as March ends there are genuine signs which nobody can ignore. For a start, there is considerable melting of the snow and free water in the garden pond, the sun has genuine warmth in it even if the air is still chilly. A couple of American Robins have appeared and been busily turning over dead leaves revealed by the snow retreat in search if food. easter Saturday the first returning Song Sparrow sat in the dogwoods looking around. We have clumps of snowdrops and closely following them the first crocus flowers can be seen by the front steps. Easter Sunday morning brought us a skulking Fox Sparrow pottering happily but somewhat cryptically behind a large hydrangea bush. According to eBird this is only the third record for the species in Montreal for 2018 (that won’t last) so it’s nice to feel favoured by the bird gods.

It looks promising at last … let’s start with the Fox Sparrow then on to some flowers.

For about the past two or maybe three weeks a couple of snowdrops have been intermittently appearing as the snow recedes, only to be covered again as yet another dump is dropped on their heads by the weather gods.

But as we approach the end of March it looks like spring is gradually winning and this morning enough snow has melted for some better established clumps to finally get their heads and flowers up above the white stuff and start to show that winter is losing the battle. Finally.

We know our readers and doubt that any of you – certainly not those in Canada – will be complaining about too many small white flower photographs at this time of the year. We have two main varieties – no idea what this many years after they were first planted but the comparison is interesting. We will call them Snowdrop A and Snowdrop B as after all these years we have no records of what species/varieties they might be. They are, however, quite distinct in the habit and form.

Snowdrop A

These form a very tight and compact clump standing tall on stoout stems as the snow retreats and initially with the flowers still shrouded and unopened.

A couple of days later the longer, outer petals had opened to reveal the shorter, inner three with their delicate green markings.

Note the subtle markings on the inner part of the flower

Snowdrop B

This form does not present in such tight clumps and seems more liable to spread (not far enough, not fast enough) in the garden.

The flowers are, like all snowdrops, also pendulous  but the outer perianths are less rigid than Snowdrop A and hang more “loosely” so concealing the inner structures from any but a small mouse looking upwards.

Snowdrops are not, because of this pendulous habit, at all easy to photograph so I resorted to manual trickery and carefully inverted one flower to show its details. This is a technique widely used by professional flower photographers who travel with bags full of tiny clips and sticks and tools to achieve the same result without the intrusion of actual fingers, hoping that you will think that what you see is what nature intended you to see … we do that too but today are being honest  😉

And then we also have crocuses

The very first 2018 crocus


Fist returning Song Sparrow … not a text book photo, dirty windows and he didn’t sty in the dogwood for long

American Robin

Fox Sparrow again

… and again. He refused to come out properly into the open but this does to establish the record.