This week started with the appearance of some exposed areas of grass and leaf-litter without snow – still a lot to melt away and now at the end of the week we are promised more snow.

Mid-week we had a couple of days of rain and slightly above zero temperatures so that the small clumps of snowdrops managed to reappear for perhaps the fourth time this year. Readers may well be tired of yet more snowdrop pictures on this page – but those are the flowers we have right now.

Bird activity began with the sight of American Crows taking twigs (nesting materials) to the top  of a tall fir tree just over the garden boundary that they use year after year to raise the next generation. This is both expected and encouraging.

Our pair (pair !!) of Carolina Wrens has been taking advantage of the exposed leaf litter which they have spent quite a bit of time turning over in search of tasty morsels. Not the best photograph (low light and quick chance taken from behind a distant window) … perhaps we should get some audio equipment because these birds have a beautiful repertoire of songs and calls and have been very vocal all week.

As we reached the end of March there was obvious evidence of spring-induced changes in bird behaviour with regard to territory establishment, feeding and (see the Crows above) even nest building. We are also seeing changes around the feeders – during the winter few European Starlings visited but now we are seeing visits by three of four individuals – though they must have friends as the speed with which the feeders are emptying is rapidly increasing – it seems that while we see three or four at a time they are probably not always the same individuals. A couple of Common Grackles have joined them too – when they first returned from the south a couple of weeks ago they concentrated on the seed feeders but recently they have spent more time on the ground rootling through last year’s dead leaves and the heaps of discarded seed husks thrown from the feeders by smaller birds … not surprising given that they are Icteridae. The House Finches are still around and we even have one, solitary, American Goldfinch that is well on its way to developing a properly yellow summer suit of feathers.

Squirrels are remarkably active and the bark-eating rabbit has paid regular visits – he is using the critter-cave we made in the stumpery to sit out storms.

The appearance and then disappearance of ground without snow on it is frustrating – we are suffering from cabin fever and want to be out there “doing things” – even though were we to do so we would be unnecessarily compressing the ground. Instead of that, the weekend will include playing with milkweed seeds in the basement seed nursery.

Lastly, simply because everyone loves Owls, we are including a photograph of a Barred Owl seen a few days ago in the nearby arboretum. Over the years we have had an overflying Snowy Owl passing the garden and a couple of hours of a very soggy Great Horned Owl squatting in a tall for tree waiting for an extremely blattering rain storm to stop. No resident owls yet – but we live in perpetual hope, if not exactly expectation.

More photographs follow – click any thumbnail to see them at full size.