Friday Phenology 13 Apr 2012

Spring continues along its fast pace here though the temperatures are back down to the 50’s and low 60’s which feels a bit more along the lines of what’s expected.  And we had the first thunder storms of the season this week, which means our thunderphobic dog alerts us of incoming storms day or night. A couple of nights ago, we had a line of storms that came through and while up with Taylor and her pacing, I followed the storm on radar. One cell managed to even give a tornado vortex signature somewhere around the Florissant Fossil Beds area. On the agenda for this weekend, it looks like more showers are on the way, this time most likely snow. I fully expect to have thunder mixed in with those snow showers.

That reminds me of the reaction some of the kids had when I was teaching 2nd grade in the area years ago. That year I taught in a modular building farther away from the main building. I loved it for so many reasons – we would often pause to watch a bald or golden eagle fish the South Platte or deer crossing through. Taking the farthest classroom was a definite plus. Though mid winter, it always amazed me that I’d have to remind the kids to take their coat to head inside when it was -40°. Mountain kids. On warm spring days, the windows and doors were opened. As weather moved in, we would all notice. One year, the first clap of thunder made us all pause – and then every single one of us smiled. The rain came, but we kept the windows open, all of us enjoying the scent of rain and the sound of thunder. Spring.

While March this year was dry and windy and downright hot for up here, it looks like April may make up for it. For as long as I can remember, March has traditionally been the snowiest month in Colorado, with April right on its heels and February coming in third. The storms that came through the other night gave the fields a touch more green. Last weekend, leaves were out as far up Ute Pass as Manitou Springs, and the forsythia and flowering trees had their flowers out in Cascade. Mike didn’t pay close attention on his way home yesterday, but he thinks he saw leaves out at least up as far as Crystola, and perhaps Woodland Park.

The ball cactus is at the same point today as when this photo was taken 27 Apr 2009

This week also gave us the first dandelion bloom as well as the first bloom on the ball cactus. The catkins on the aspen trees are all out – both male and female flowers, so we should have seed pods again this year. They seem to follow the weather more than anything, and will pause if cold weather and snow come. That makes the prediction of that magical week when the aspen leaves pop hard to predict – and it becomes more of a ‘locals only’ celebration than the more predictable fall color. If we get another good warm up after this next system goes through, I would bet the leaves pop before May rolls around.

The White Breasted Nuthatches are still busily at work on their nest – they’re now adding in all the bits of fur and felted balls of fluff they stuffed into the cracks in the bark while cleaning it out. Seeing some of the fresh fur, unfelted, being brought in tells me they’re almost done with it. Last year they were definitely on eggs in early May and the babies left the bird box around Mid June. We’ll see what this year brings.

Now it’s time to link up your nature posts…

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