Tuesday, April 28, 2009

At Last!

After yesterday's wildflower extravaganza, I headed out on our trails to see if there was any chance something might be open, and right off the deck, there it was: a Purple Trillium (Trillium erectum), aka: Wake-robin (of Thoreau fame), Birthroot, Red Trillium, Stinking Benjamin.

I also found red maple flowers:

Don't they remind you of fireworks?

And, as I gazed across one of the coves, a whirlwind of yellow dust swirled above the marsh. A veritable pollen tornado. Of course I had to go see what had been the source. This is what I found:

This marshy area is full of buttonbush, so immediately I thought that was it, but buttonbush flowers don't look at all like this, and it's not a male buttonbush flower opening first, because the buttonbush flower we all know and love isn't around until mid-summer, and if those are the female form, then the pollen being released now wouldn't do them any good. [inhale] So, I need to figure this one out. It's a woody-stemmed shrubby thing, alternate branching, thick as thieves in the wetland. And, of course, no leaves yet. Sweet Gale? Could be - has catkins over winter which open into golden-brown staminate (male) flowers. I know there's sweet gale (Myrica gale) in this wetland. Yes, I'm going with sweet gale. Unless there are other suggestions...

The wind is blowing like mad out there - felt quite good (despite the falling debris, branches and even trees). And the dragonflies were getting quite a ride from the gusts. Yes, dragonflies - Common Green Darners (bright blue abdomen, green thorax and head) - Anax junius. This is about a month early for our first dragonfly sightings of the year, but there they were, zooming all over the marsh, even a couple in the mating clasp. I tried to get photos, I really did, but they were too fast and too far away for any of my shots to turn out.

The warblers are back, too - many were in the trees, zipping out to nab insects that were taking advantage of the warm air above the marsh. I have yet to master warbler songs (beyond the obvious beer-beer-beer-beer-beez of the black-throated blue and the zee-zee-zee-zoo-zee of the black-throated green).


  1. After my Saturday bike ride, I discovered that I had a thin layer of pollen on me. Scary-early for that stuff.

  2. Oh the trilium is lovely~great photo of it too. Unbelievable what this weather has done to force the flowers into bloom.

  3. What a great photo of red maple! And the catkins you thought were sweet gale? Yes, I believe they are. I also caught them on camera today, as well as their vivid pink puffy girlfriends, the pistillate flowers on a separate shrub. Stop by and take a look. And tell me again which bird sings "pleased, pleased, pleased to meetcha." I heard it today near the river.

  4. "Pleased, pleased, pleased to meetcha" is the chestnut-sided warbler, also described as "see, see, see Miss Beecher." These mnemonics can be so helpful in remembering which birdsong is which...although there are still some that are so similar that I just throw up my hands in dispair of ever keeping them apart!