On March 20, we celebrated the return of spring and the spring equinox. That is when the sun crosses the equator line, heading toward the northern hemisphere marking the start of spring in the northern half of the planet. It was a beautiful day with 12 hours each of daylight and darkness. The sky was sunny with temperatures in the 50s, maple sap was running, ice and snow melting, the daffodils and crocus were coming up, and some migratory birds were on the wing returning to our Northwoods or heading on north.
On the first day of spring we saw our first robin at our NEC and five more of them on Prescott’s open fields near Fifield along with nine deer off Hick’s Landing Road. During the week, Rosemary Plant spotted the first male harrier (marsh hawk) patrolling her fields and a dark phase rough-legged hawk that will soon be heading north for its nesting season. Mark Marsden in Phillips had his first red-winged black birds and Russ Severt in Fifield had common grackles.
The pair of trumpeter swans has returned to Sailor Creek Flowage. On that beautiful spring day, I sat along Sailor Creek on a white pine log hidden from their view and watched them in good sunlight for about half an hour feeding and preening on a small patch of open water surrounded by ice. What a beautiful sight that was, while three pair of hooded mergansers and two pair of Canada geese drifted by in the water. Spring bird migration is underway, so keep your eyes and ears open and enjoy one of nature’s greatest shows!
Frogs and toads will soon begin chorusing throughout Wisconsin and the Department of Natural Resources is looking for volunteers to lend their ears for help with two different frog and toad surveys. Since both surveys occur at night after school and when the workday is done, the two surveys are great activities for families and can be completed while social distancing. If you are interested in volunteering for the Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey or have questions about the project please contact WFTS@wisconsin.gov
The private Nature Education Center in Fifield operated by Tom and Mary Lou Nicholls is open seasonally by appointment only. Nicholls can be reached at email@example.com.