We had a light frost last night. Tonight it is going to be even colder. But the days have been warm and sunny. I've been mowing and weeding and hanging clothes out on the line to dry and, of course, birding and wandering through the woods.
The survey of American Dippers on Agency Creek that I started last year has continued this year, off and on. Yesterday I spent the whole afternoon happily monitoring the six nest sites I found last year plus looking for the ones I could not find. Perhaps because of the still-high water in Agency Creek, only those pairs in areas where the creek makes shallows with rocky rapids have begun nesting. I suspect if the nest site doesn't have easy access to lots of under-water insects, it would be too difficult to keep those hungry nestling mouths filled.
One pair in the very good Yoncalla area has already fledged youngsters while another is feeding nestlings. Another pair in not quite so good an area is incubating eggs and two other pairs in high water zones may be but I can't be sure. One pair seems to have disappeared altogether. So I will be back in a week or two, when the water level has gone done, to check again.
Here's a fledged young Dipper from the Yoncalla area nest. Dippers follow their parents around begging for food for about 12 days after leaving the nest.
On one path leading to a Dipper frequented area of the creek, the ground was carpeted in oxalis in bloom. I liked the play of light and shadow on this patch. (One needs sun to create shadows and we have had so little sun until recently that I'm still getting a little giddy over shadows.)
Besides birds and wildflowers and shadows on my trek, two Alligator Lizards (likely the Northern variety) were wrapped in what looked like mortal combat, although totally motionless. Alligator Lizards are ferocious little creatures.
At home, along our small creek, the first spring flowers are approaching maturity. The Skunk Cabbage is enormous.
The Dutchman's Breeches (that everyone else calls Bleeding Hearts)... Dicentra formosa... is developing fruiting bodies.
And all our apple and pear and crab apple trees are blooming, rather spectacularly, at once. I've not taken photos of those in their full glory yet. I'll try to do that tomorrow... if the predicted hard frost doesn't ruin them. Here's hoping tonight's predicted record-breaking cold temperatures don't wreck our fruit crop for the year. That is one downside to these lovely sunny days with their clear, cold nights.