Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring and Peepers

March is a deceptive month. For birdwatchers, it is a time of expectations. Blackbirds, phoebes and a few other migrants begin to arrive in the northeast stirring memories of the annual influx of huge flocks of songbirds. While there is increasing activity within the natural world this month, songbird "fallouts" are still at least a month away.

Red Maples are beginning to flower and crocuses are now sprouting virtually everywhere. Over the weekend I stopped at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and found some species of azaleas have even flowered. Pussywillows are also in bloom with honey bees swarming the shrub's furry flowers.

At the garden I followed my nose to a planting of Sweet Box shrubs. The honey-sweet fragrance had attracted honey bees, carpenter bees and a tiny fly that I didn't recognize. From the photograph, they looked like ants with wings. I searched through some of my field guides and learned that in some species of ants the reproductive castes actually do have wings. If you want to learn more about this large, complex group of insects there is a comprehensive website on North American ants here.

One of this weekend's highlights was discovering an explosion of songs out at Floyd Bennett Field. Most of Floyd Bennett is grassland habitat with some wooded areas around the perimeter. In the northwestern section is a small, freshwater pond called the "Return a Gift Pond". While scanning the nearby cricket field for Horned Larks I heard a virtual din of chirping emanating from the direction of the pond. I assumed that it was recently awakened Spring Peepers, but I'd never heard so many or so loud. I walked over to the pond to check it out. What I found was amazing. Perhaps it was the results of the sudden warm spell that hit our area (it reached nearly 80 degrees on Saturday), but it sounded like there were thousands of Spring Peepers calling. Peepers are only about an inch long, but they make a huge sounds. I tried to home in on the source of one of these loud songs, so I could take a photograph, but was unsuccessful. I don't know why, but I try and fail every year. It makes me wonder how anyone photographs these mysterious frogs. Below is a short video I shot at the Return a Gift Pond. Don't bother looking for the frogs, but make sure you turn up the volume on your computer before clicking play.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

That's such an amazing throb isn't it? The city is bursting at the seams with springtime.

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