Weekly Notes, March 24, 2013

Northern Lights Courtesy of Paul Cyr

Northern Lights

The Northern Lights last Sunday Morning were absolutely beautiful.  This image is courtesy of Paul Cyr Photography.

Winter ended with snow across the state on Tuesday, Click here for the current snow depth map…..  Temperatures remained cold throughout the week with no new reports of the signs of spring.

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture Overhead

This week be on the lookout for the movement of large birds such as hawks, eagles and Turkey Vultures.  Eagles and Turkey Vultures are of similar size with a wingspan up to 6 feet, however while soaring there is a distinct difference that can be easily recognized.  Turkey Vultures hold their wings in what is called a dihedral – a shallow V shape – and rock or tilt as if unsteady.  They most often are in pairs or small groups and soar much closer to the ground than do Eagles.  This picture of a Turkey Vulture overhead shows the two-tone coloration of the wings and the featherless head is almost indistinct with a longish tail.


The warm rays of the sun will melt the snow away from protected areas opening up ground space for the American Woodcock.  The top picture shows the coloration pattern of this common but not often seen bird.  The second picture is of a chick on the ground and shows this member of the Sandpiper Family camouflaged in the dry leaves.  woodcock chick

Look for it’s 1 1/2 – 2 inch tracks in moist mud along with holes where the bill has been inserted as it probed for worms.  Often seen along the edges of dirt roads as migration takes it northward, the tracks leave a walking pattern 2-4 inches in length.  No description would be complete without mentioning the trill as the bird rises upward in vertical flight seen most often at dusk in spring.  It prefers moist areas with protective thickets near old pastures and open fields where the sound of it’s nasal ‘pneet’ gives away its presence.

Folklore says that March roars in like a lion and out like a lamb, as the last week of the month approaches we still feel the fierce bite of winter, perhaps the lengthening days and Full moon on the 27th will wane winter’s feisty grip enough to beckon the frogs from the mud.

A photo of Earth from Space taken on March 20th, the Spring Equinox courtesy of NOAA Environmental Visualization Library.