It’s finally spring — yee-hah!!

Even the prickly pears had iciles! (Courtesy of Paula Richards)
Even the prickly pears had icicles!  (Courtesy of Paula Richards)

After a winter that included a polar vortex in November and record-breaking cold in February, we are so happy to see spring finally get here.  Texas spring brings our favorite bluebonnets and other early wildflowers.

Bluebonnets at Inks Lake State Park. (Courtesy of Paula Richards)
Bluebonnets at Inks Lake State Park.  (Courtesy of Paula Richards)
Plains fleabane, member of the Aster family.  A funny name for a lovely wild flower that blooms from March to November. (Courtesy of Paula Richards)
Plains fleabane, member of the Aster family.  A funny name for a lovely little wild flower that blooms from March to November.  (Courtesy of Paula Richards)

The signs of spring came with the honking of Canadian geese and great blue herons as they begin their flights northward.  (Most birds that depend on live prey migrate.  Those that can live on seeds and berries usually stay put.)   Another sign was in the return of old friends, like hummingbirds, western kingbird, flycatchers and tanagers, and saying good bye to winter friends like the western meadow lark and the hooded merganswer.   A not so welcome sign of spring, are the brown-headed cow birds that have begun visiting the feeders.

Hooded Merganswer will soon be heading north for the summer. (Courtesy of Paula Richards)
Hooded Merganswer will soon be heading north for the summer.  (Courtesy of Paula Richards)
Summer resident, male vermillion flycatcher, just hanging out. (Courtesy of Jim Baines)
Male vermillion flycatcher, just hanging out and ready for the summer weather.  (Courtesy of Jim Baines)
A sure sign of spring - female hummingbird caught mid-flight seeking nectar. (Courtesy of Jim Baines)
A sure sign of spring – female hummingbird caught mid-flight seeking nectar.  Be sure to fill those feeders with sugar water.  They’ll need that until their favorite trumpet-shaped flowers have bloomed.  (Courtesy of Jim Baines)

The trees are beginning to sprout leaves and the hillsides are a lovely verdant green, and those that can, are blooming like crazy and attracting pollinators.

Escarpment cherry trees in blossom with Palamedes Swallowtail (Courtesy of Paula Richards)
Escarpment cherry trees in blossom with Palamedes Swallowtail pollinating this year’s fruit.  (Courtesy of Paula Richards)

Folks are busy doing spring cleaning activities around the nature center and our local state parks:

Phil Wyde clearing the trail along the lake. (Courtesy of Paula Ricahrds)
Jerry Stacy clearing a new trail at Inks Lake State Park.  (Courtesy of Paula Richards)
Pat and Cathy cleaning up the trails.  (Courtesy of Paula Richards)
Pat Campbell and Kathy Griffis-Bailey cleaning up along the trails at Inks Lake State Park.  (Courtesy of Paula Richards)
Checking on blue bird boxes in preparation for this year's nests. (Courtesy of Paula Richards)
Phil Wyde checking blue bird boxes.  All will need to be cleaned out in preparation for the new families.  (Courtesy of Paula Richards)

And, one finally last look at what we survived… brrrrrrr! It makes me cold just to look at it!

Ice coating branches, bending them with the weight. (Courtesy of Paula Richards)
Ice coating branches, bending them with the weight. (Courtesy of Paula Richards)

 

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