CacheCrazy.Com: Spring

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring

I don’t think anybody’s going to argue with this – it’s been a brutal winter. Fun, no doubt. I had a ball skiing this year, both cross-country and downhill. It felt great to get on the slopes after a couple years away from it. The bitter cold weather made for comfortable, warm nights in front of the wood burner, and the snow on the landscape was beautiful. The kids got a chance to sled ride, and we took a few winter hikes to shake the dust off. The beauty of Pennsylvania is that we can experience all the seasons, and they all have something to offer. Winter happens to be one of them.

It has been long, though, and I suspect we’re all ready for sunny days and warmer nights. The cold and snow really held on this year, right to the very end. It’s time for Old Man Winter to call it a season, and it looks like Mother Nature finally told him to pack it up. It seemed he only got the message just this past Friday because that’s the day I got four solid signs that the seasons have changed. I saw the first robins of the year, caught the unmistakable call of the American Woodcock, spotted two gobblers strutting in a field, and heard the spring peepers for the first time. Of course, these are all harbingers of this new beginning we call spring.

Dan the Woodsman mentioned in his blog (http://www.projectexploreny.com/) that he marks his ‘official’ opening of spring when he sees robins for the first time of the year. In his case, that was March 14. I think many of us feel the same way. These familiar birds act as a sort of scout for us humans. Once we see the robins, we might just feel a little safer venturing outdoors. Friday was the 18th, so I was only a few days behind DTW. Anybody else mark the date when you first spot robins?

Since we’re talking birds, my favorite of them all is the American Woodcock. I’ve seen them as early as President’s Day some years, but I don’t consider it spring until the males begin their courtship flights. If you’ve never seen it, you must make the effort. Woodcock favor moist soils and early succession forests, especially birch and aspen. Visit such a habitat just before dark and listen for the unmistakable nasally “PEENT” call of the male. He’ll repeat this over and over from the forest floor until he begins an amazing flight skyward. You’ll hear the whistling of the wings as he spirals higher to a point where he is quite literally out of sight. Once the apex of his flight is reached, he’ll begin a much tighter spiral downward until he hits the earth in what looks like a spectacular crash. After a slight pause, you’ll hear the “PEENT” from his new location, and the process will start all over again. It’s quite the stunt so it’s no wonder the ladies are impressed. Woodcock habitat can sometimes be hard to find. If you are lucky enough to know of a good spot, let me throw in this little tip. Keep it a secret!

The bird talk continues with the gobble of the turkey. Seeing a gobbler in full strut is certainly one of the most beautiful spectacles in all of Penn’s Woods. Hearing them gobble is a music all of its own. Hunting the spring gobbler is one of the most fun, most frustrating tasks I choose to do. Turkeys certainly live by the “early to bed, early to rise” motto, so plan on getting up long before sunrise if you’re up for the challenge!

Speaking of music of the woods, I also mentioned that I heard the spring peepers on Friday. Like robins, the sound of this small frog is another mark of the change in seasons. Pleasant evenings on the porch, a favorite drink in hand, quietly humming a tune with the peepers playing rhythm…

Ah, but don’t get too comfortable! The old timers say that winter isn’t really over until the peepers freeze three times. What’s funny to me is that every year this seems to come true. Case in point, here’s the picture we woke up to yesterday morning…


Three times??? Well, that’s one down anyway! I guess we’ll have to deal with a few more cold nights, but the calendar and Mother Nature are telling us that spring is here. Enjoy it and all the seasons.

CACHE MAINTENANCE

Shifting gears just a bit to geocaching but also in the spring theme, the kids and I got out on Sunday to do a little maintenance on our “Re-Hidden Lehigh” cache. I was quite curious to see how all the stages held up through the winter. I am pleased to report that everything looks good and is awaiting the next group of adventure seekers.

Just to shamelessly plug the cache a little…

This is a challenging multicache to a lesser-known section of the Lehigh River. The original cache was called “Hidden Lehigh” and was placed by frenchfrynfrosty. Dodger Lizard Crew was fortunate to adopt the cache back in September 2010. For artistic license purposes, we changed up a few of the hides but overall it’s still in the spirit of the original. Many thanks go out to frenchfrynfrosty for placing the original “Hidden Lehigh” cache and for trusting it in the hands of DLC. We appreciate it!

Not nearly the photographer as some, I posted a couple pictures from our outing. Hope you like…

A vernal pool
Ice formation
Lehigh River swollen from recent rain and snow melt

3 comments:

BigAl said...

I could not agree with you more Dodger. I think nicer weather is just around the corner. On Saturday I saw 5 Guinea Fowl, and the largest flock of turkeys I've seen in a long time. There were several Toms strutting in the field, and I stopped counting around 10 beards. They were just all over the place. I love hearing those gobblers gobble, and I'm sure you'll enjoy my article coming up. I was able to get out on Saturday for some caches with a new cacher I met, although I had already completed the caches at an earlier time. It was still fun going out with him. Then on Sunday I took my son out since he is now a bonifide member of GC.com, and he found 6 caches. It was lots of fun. Yesterday I took my wife and daughter out and we found one. What fun it is getting out in the nice weather. Can't wait for much warmer weather to come. Nice pics too.

BLOODHOUNDED said...

The spring song is in the air! I love it... Well done Dodger, great post!

You can plug a great cache like that any time on CacheCrazy.Com in fact, it's a requirement, lol!

BigAl, sounds like a great post in the making with pictures of spring! Can't wait!

Dan the Wodsman said...

Old Man Winter is dug in here in Central New York! (despite the robins)

Tomorrow's high is going to be like 33! Yesterday was our warmest day of the week at 42 degrees. Almost there...almost.

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