The seasons are now finally turning in reality and just as written in stone on the calendar.

Pretty cold start of the week and a day of quite heavy freezing rain (latest FR in Montreal for 70 years apparently) but things started to warm up by Friday and better still as this is written and posted over the weekend. Maybe spring is really here at last … though by the delayed presence of the snowdrops that are still flowering merrily in the garden you have to look at the calendar to check. The are certainly late this year, preserved by the cooler weather we have had.

Birds are starting to do spring things, but even there something is not normal. Fox Sparrows are not the commonest of the sparrows around here. Normally they pass through the area in a 10-14 day burst in spring and then back again after breeding. They nest in the forests north of Montreal. Numbers reported are usually quite low … they usually start to build up about now and then are through and gone by the start of May. Occasional birds are seen during winter if and where they can find enough food and shelter but for the most part their winters are passed to the south. Montreal is just a stop on the way between winter and breeding territories. So far this year only four locations have been reported, as shown on the map to the right (click it to view at full, and legible, size). “Our” Fox Sparrow first turned up on 1 April fossicking about under the feeders when there was still snow on the ground. We expected that brief glimpse – fortunately photographed – to have been all we would see of him but he keeps coming back – almost always at around 8am. Whether he just likes it here or he is sticking around until better weather reaches Montreal we don’t know but we certainly feel favoured to have almost the only example of this fine species in the Montreal region.

Song Sparrows came not many days ago and have settled in. Purple Finches, Grackles, the odd Red-winged Blackbird, possibly a brief sighting of a Kinglet too.

Crocuses still flowering, albeit often nipped off by the busy teeth of our rabbits. A single, but annually reliable, Iris reticulata, a small patch of Puschkinia scilloides. Daffodills are poking their leaves out. If you squint there are hints of green showing on the grass too. As we enter this last week of April it’s hard to believe that in a bit over two weeks time when we return from enjoying an English spring all this bare branchy outside will be bursting with new green leaves – the first week of May is always the time, like clockwork.

The featured photo at the top is a Mourning Cloak butterfly (Camberwell Beauty if you are reading this in the UK), the first of which was seen in the garden this morning.

Squirrel-relocated crocus

Puschkinia scilloides

Open to the sun

Gardener’s Ease

First bee of spring

Fox Sparrow

Featured Images
(Click to enlarge)

We still have snowdrops

Goose on remnant ice

Five minutes away the bears are awake

Rabbit meets crab apple tree in winter