The birds are returning and flowers are popping up.

March both came and went like a lion with seemingly unending bouts of heavy snow interspersed as the month went on with rain … such a disappointment when there was a warm thaw, albeit brief, in the last few days of February. This week followed a similar pattern, starting with a beautiful and sunny Sunday and groups of American Goldfinch doing “wheelies” in the air over the newly revealed remnants of the lawn. There was no forewarning of what lay in store a day or two later.

On Monday, Mr Bunny, he who stripped the bark from the euonymus bush during the winter, posed beautifully in the morning with the low sun shining through his ears as the week started. It was a gorgeous day and we were even tempted outside in the afternoon to make a desultory start on tidying up – sadly, much of that tidying effort went into picking gravel out of the flower bed (a flower bed that included the first purple crocus on the year!) that lines the drive across a culvert. Gravel that had been thrown hither and yon by the young guy driving the snowblower a couple of weeks earlier – he was being too hasty and not careful enough and his boss sent him back later in the week (twice) to  do some clearing up. Most irritating when there were other things to be doing this first day in the great outdoors. Later in the day we realised that Mr. Bunny had also take a too close interest in the bark of a venerable Cotoneaster … if he wasn’t so cute he’d be in a pie by now. No, he gets a pass as it’s our fault for trying to create a habitat in this garden that attracts critters like rabbits to live here. They do need to read the rule book though, just once.

Tuesday it rained – and rained and rained and rained. Rain which was sent to us from the US – thanks guys. Something like 40mm of rain according the meteorology people and was certainly way more than needed when added to the melting snow. The rain just never stopped, on and on for hours. Below a squishy top couple of thawed inches, the land is still frozen so all that water had nowhere to soak away to and instead formed large and growing “vernal pools” in the further corners of the garden. By evening the lower parts of the garden were a lake and the pond had literally overflowed, the septic tank covers were under water. We think this is the worst we have ever seen in almost 20 years here.

We caught a brief glimpse of a little brown job hopping outside R’s office window and thought first returning “Song Sparrow” of the spring – an identification that was confirmed the next day when he was sighted hopping around some very wet leaf litter looking for a square meal. Since then he has been joined by another and is singing happily. Productive activity was indoors during this day of biblical downpour and was confined to sowing some milkweed seeds in the hope they will do their thing and germinate, having spent the winter stratifying in the garage.

Wednesday, the rain diminished to intermittent drizzle and the lakes slowly retreated – we are in a pocket that is blessed with good drainage, unlike some of our neighbours who had sump-pump failures. The leaf litter and untrimmed autumn flower stems crushed to the ground over winter by the snow proved to be a huge attraction to “our” pair of Carolina Wrens who worked through it thoroughly looking for food; occasionally accompanied by Dark-eyed (Slatey-backed) Juncos and the Song Sparrow as well as, by the end of the week, an increasingly numerous flock of Am Goldfinches, many rapidly acquiring their bright yellow summer coats. These birds in breeding plumage are probably not our winter residents but birds from further south gradually moving north to seek out breeding territory. The pair of House Finches have shown themselves to be still with us after a few days absence. The use that all these birds were making of the scruffy leaves and dead flower stalks emphasizes the value of not cleaning up your garden before winter. We will do that in a couple of weeks time.

Thursday came and so did the heavy rains again – what’s to say other than another 30+ mm to replenish the pools.

By the end of the week it was still damp and drizzly – in fact, as a lovely Scots friend of ours would say, positively “dreich” weather. A very handy word we should use more, being from the Middle English, and of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse drj?gr meaning everlasting. The rain this week has certainly been that.


Looks like things are now well on the move … these diary entries should soon start getting more interesting and the photographs more colourful.

Now – a small, experimental change for the rest of the week’s photographs. I found that the “tiled mosaic” layout of thumbnails that I have been using doesn’t work very well on mobile operating systems (iPhone and iPad). There are alternative layouts that do work faultlessly, but they look a bit clunky, so this week I have put the images into an auto-running slideshow that rolls through the pictures at about 4 or 5 seconds each – you can pause at any one that takes your fancy. I’d appreciate any comments you care to share with me about how it works for you.