March 2018

Four snowstorms, cool temperatures, and cloudy days slowed the progress of spring and tested the resilience of Kent’s residents, both people and animals. All the precipitation swelled the reservoirs, brimmed the ponds, and wakened woodland brooks. Even though if felt so wintry, winter-resident birds like cardinals, titmice, and robins sang spring tunes. With the ground still so cold, and water so abundant mud season started early.

3/1     It was mild enough and wet enough for some amphibians to move overland after dark. I saw wood frogs, two yellow-spotted salamanders, and two spring peepers crossing the road on the way to the Towner’s arm of the Great Swamp.  — Judy Kelley-Moberg

3/1     Woodcocks have arrived and were heard peenting in my meadow.  — Anne Smith

3/2     A monster nor’easter, identified as a “bomb cyclone” by the National Weather Service, barrelled across the Hudson Valley delivering gale force winds. Meager accumulations were predicted yesterday, but this storm morphed into a monster. Kent was especially hard hit by whipping winds, horizontal precipitation that was more ice and snow than rain. By the time the storm passed 149,000 of our neighbors were without power, 441 power lines were down, and 66 poles were broken. March roared in like a lion.

Photo through car windshield of a downed tree across a road and draped across power lines
One of the reasons we all lived in the middle ages for a few days. Photo: Tore Heskestead

3/3     Damage from yesterday’s storm was sorely felt by most Kent residents. So many trees and limbs came down, so many people without power. Many generators were humming. Those unlucky ones without generators sought shelter and showers with friends, went away, or found a warm room but no Internet at the Kent Library and town hall. Even nature seemed shocked, as if spring has put the brakes on.

3/3     The pileated woodpecker showed up to brighten our day. At the feeder we spotted the goldfinch and the red house finch competing with the usual moochers. We hope the juncos are planning to pack up and leave soon.  — George Baum

3/3     Yay! The owls are back. I went out on the deck to throw out some dirty water and startled this owl. I think it’s the female. She flew up and landed in a tree. She let me try to take some pictures; but it was getting dark and I didn’t want to make her nervous and have her leave. She sat there for quite a while and then decided to go hunt elsewhere. Shortly after that, a smaller owl (probably the male) came and sat in a neighboring tree.  — Don Turner

Photo of a barred owl perched on a tree branch looking directly at the photographer
I stopped by to ask, “Who cooks for you?” Photo: Don Turner

3/3     I live three miles from the Hudson River at an elevation of 350 feet above sea level and received 18 inches of snow from yesterday’s storm. However, when I went down along the river this morning, just three miles east, I found only six inches of snow.  — Jim Yates

3/4     Full moon and effects of the nor’easter that hammered my yard exposed limestone which is buried for most of year except for Late winter. Just what I needed as the angst factor was off the charts with power out for the past two days.  — Lou Tartaro

3/6     A beautiful day before the storm. I heard wood frogs calling at a vernal pool and noticed worm castings on the lawn.

3/6     When we went out last evening to close up the chickens for the night, the night before the big storm, we noticed that they were all still outside, huddling together in a pile like they used to do as chicks. When we entered the chicken house we saw a large light-breasted bird quietly perched in the high roost. Only its large feet were visible and its wing span was much wider than a chicken’s. It was an immature red-tailed hawk. We were perplexed. Our chicken predators have never entered the chicken house: they usually strike from the air.

We opened a larger door to encourage the raptor to escape but it flew to a lower roost and did not leave. It appeared weak and/or injured. We successfully picked it up by its legs and placed it in a large cardboard box. We brought the starving hawk to a local wildlife rehabilitator who put the bird in a covered cage. She gave it some tasty morsels of roadkill from her frozen stash, and told us that many predators starve this time of year. We woke up to 14 inches of snow this morning and the wildlife rehabilitator contacted us today to say that she was keeping the bird until spring so it can build up its strength.  — Charlene and Peter Paden

3/7     A large flock of red-winged blackbirds, at least 50, descended on my feeders in East Fishkill this morning. Most of them had the red shoulder stripe but some had a stripe that looked blue or even white to me. The way the light strikes them can sometimes alter how we see their colors. The birds went on to empty my feeders in 15 minutes.  — Diane Anderson

3/8     Heavy snow called out the snow plows and shovels…again. And yet, the hassle was forgotten after one look at snow-covered branches, patterned like woolen fabric.

Photo of dense thicket of horizontal branches covered with snow
Yes, it’s cold. And wet. And inconvenient. But it’s also beautiful. Photo: Beth Herr

3/12     Wonderful to stroll at 6:15 pm on the Nichols Street causeway in honor of the first day of daylight savings. And recent rains and snow storms have filled the Great Swamp!

Photo fo the Great Swamp so filled with snowmelt itlooks like a lake
When the Great Swamp fills with snowmelt does it become a Great Lake? Photo: Diana Lee

3/13     This morning revealed a white winter wonderland. White on everything: ground, roofs, the tiniest twig, even an almost white sky. It was winter to look at but going outside to put out the bird feeders, I could have closed my eyes and thought it was spring. There was birdsong everywhere from song sparrows, house finches, robins, red-winged blackbirds, mourning doves, titmice, and black-capped chickadees, all singing in the snow. As we watched the feeders, a flock of common grackles, red-winged blackbirds, brown-headed cowbirds, and European starlings fell from above like big black snowflakes, onto the birdseed.  — Lynn Bowdery, Allan Bowdery

3/17     I heard a kingfisher and red-winged blackbirds chatting it up today in the warm March sun.

3/22     Despite what seems like an abnormally cold, snowy March, Coltsfoot is starting to flower right on schedule. Only skunk cabbage gets an earlier start!  — John Dummerston

Photo of coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) in blossom
A sure sign there are sunny, warm days ahead. Photo Beth Herr

3/24     We have a resident opossum living in our barn who visits us all day and all night long, scouring the ground around our bird feeders and compost. It seems “Petie Possum” is apparently a female, as we have seen her collecting leaves for her nest in the barn in preparation for her soon-to-be family. We’ve grown attached to her, as has Spookycat. They seem to like – or at least tolerate – each other and go nose-to-nose at times. So we welcome Petie to our place and look forward to the kids this spring.  — John Askildsen

Ed. Note: Scientists at Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y. decided to learn about the part different mammals play in the spread of the ticks and the disease. They tested six species – white-footed mice, chipmunks, squirrels, opossums and veerys and catbirds – by capturing and caging them, and then exposing each test subject to 100 ticks. What they found, is that of the six, the opossums were remarkably good at getting rid of the ticks – much more so that any of the others.

3/29     Conditions were ideal tonight – mild air temperatures, wet ground, and misting rain – for an amphibian migration. Three hours of effort checking area roadways after dark resulted in assisting most of the 129 amphibians we encountered crossing roads on their way to breeding sites. Roughly half were spotted salamanders (60) with a nice showing of four-toed salamanders (19) and relatively few live wood frogs (7). From the loud chorus of quacking males in adjacent wetlands, it was apparent that many wood frogs had already entered their breeding pools. Dozens of pairs of eyes reflected back from our head lights (over 100 in one large pool), and several pairs were seen mating along pool edges. As is typical during these mass migration events, there were also numerous road casualties (61), with all of the road-killed wood frogs appearing to be females (based on the presence of egg masses).  — Alan Beebe, Steve Chorvas

3/29     The Full Sap Moon/Blue Moon rises on Saturday night at the end of a lovely walk lead by the KCAC at the Great Swamp Wildlife Management Area in Patterson, NY.  — Justin Goodhart

Ed note: The woodcocks were there, but distant. It was so windy. Good thing the moon was beautiful.

Photo of moonrise over the Great Swamp taken with sensitive camera
It’s hard to believe, but, yes, that’s the moon rising and those are moon shadows. Photo: Justin Goodhart

3/30     A loud honking chorus of wood frogs just began yesterday. When I first went out, I thought there were geese coming from the woods.

They’ve obviously decided it’s time to get it on. The more the merrier! Video: Beth Herr

3/31     Still six inches of snow in my yard…sigh.

In April:

  • Join your neighbors and help keep Kent green and clean on Saturday, April 21. Timed to just precede Earth Day, this year’s cleanup day has everyone talking! On Kent Cleanup Day, volunteers will receive a participation sticker that has value at local businesses. The Kent Conservation Advisory Committee is targeting litter around White Pond while enjoying a spring nature walk; volunteers should meet at the parking area at 10am. A post-Cleanup-Day gathering will be held at McCarthy’s on Route 52 at around 2pm. Volunteers will swap stories about their adventures and reveal any treasures they might have found during the day.
  • Look to the sky for lengthening twilight and the Full Grass Moon on the April 21.
  • Watch for honeybees visiting pussy willows and the first azure butterflies flitting about.
  • Listen for new bird sounds as the phoebes, wrens, catbirds, and frogs calling all peepers, wood frogs and American toads find their voices.
  • Try to find purple violets in the lawn, and shadbush, azaleas and forsythia around houses.