Date: 3/29/18 7:43 pm
From: DOUGLAS E CHICKERING <dovekie...>
Subject: [MASSBIRD] Spring Forward

            This year the arrival of spring seems to be somewhat of a struggle. Perhaps it seems that way because winter reached it fierce peak in March and I think that caught us all by surprise. As the month wore away, winter was able to maintain its grip. Nights below zero, days dominated by northern breezes from off the North Atlantic, a couple of startling, cruel Nor'easters, and the signs of spring conspicuously absent. A couple of days before Easter and there are no buds in the trees, no color in the brush. I can remember star Magnolia’s blooming in late march more than once in the past and a few green buds popping up in the forsythia. Even the cries of a few Killdeer didn’t break the dreary spell.

          However today when I went down to Plum Island there were the signs of spring, welcome and undeniable. By the side of the road there were the mixed clusters of Song Sparrows and Junco’s. There were still a few American Tree Sparrows, another residue of winter, but the Songs Sparrows greatly outnumbered them. I even had a reliable report, from Dave Adrien of a Piping Plover and Great Egret. There was also a strikingly beautiful Great Blue Heron at the Pans. Deep down I feel a little surge of joy when I know that it can’t be long before I spot a Phoebe on a bare twig, pumping its tail, a Great Egret impervious to the chill, working through the shallows of the marshes, and a Tree Swallow on a tilting nesting box.

          Sparrows scratching in the grass at the side of the road up and down the island is a sign of spring. A true sign that even a wayward snow squall can’t extinguish. This year, more than usual, I need the arrival of warm days, budding trees and the prospect of Warblers in all their old and familiar places.

Doug Chickering



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