Posted by: atowhee | March 16, 2015


The rain continues and it is clear there will be no snow in Ashland this season.  We’re above normal in precipitation but there will be little or no snowpack which means reservoirs will be empty before the end of summer.  This is not quite what Villon meant when he questioned, “Where are the snows of yesteryear?”
Could be worse…perhaps.  Down in California they have a single year’s supply of water in their state’s entire reservoir system.  May be time to astroturf those golf courses, and stoop growing rice in the desert.
All this warm weather and rain means an earlier blooming season here in southern Oregon.  We already have iris, Oregon grape, pear and azalea in bloom…in mid-March!

This past weekend and again today I found more than a single White-crowned Sparrow at Ashland Pond.  They must be on move.  It is not the sort of habitat where they would over-winter and I rarely saw even a single White-crown there all winter.  And a new song was heard around the pond this morning.  At least four different Ruby-crowned Kinglets were singing.  It was the first time for their song this year.  At least a dozen Turkey Vultures were kettling over Ashland around 1030AM, having just crossed over the Siskiyou Pass, their highest barrier on the northward migration from California and points south.  The Wild Turkeys have been hard at it for three weeks now–mind the euphemism. I expect the Juncos and Varied Thrush to sing any day now. The finches: Purple, Lesser Gold and siskins are all singing merrily each morning now. Many of our resident birds are now in pairs, like the Flickers who never seem to shut up these days–“ca-ca-ca-ca-ca-cacacacaca.”

FLKR PAIR GCS EATS PLMThe Golden-crowned Sparrows may be so bloated with plum blossom they won’t be able to migrate.  Today I saw one of the White-crowns in the same plums at Ashland Pond. GCS IN PLM mshrmsThese mushrooms are among my favorite spring sights, up from the duff after the latest warm rains.  Here are two of the TVs in the morning kettle.  “North to Alaska.” tV-sThis is the epitome of full-throated song.  Western Meadowlark fills the grasslands with his lilting, optimistic song.  There will be a spring, and then more meadowlarks. Who could argue?full throatedBelow: Red-tail on nest.  This is the second one I;lve located right next to Dead Indian Road,  This one is across the road from entrance to 2120 Dead Indian.RTH INCUBT OR BUTTERCUPOregon buttercup, in bloom at 4500 feet.  Below Tree Swallows checking out the local real estate at Howard Prairie.  Look closely; there’s also a single Mountain Bluebird on this dead snag.  In years past it has also been used by two other cavity nesters:kestrel and starling.  Don’t cut down your dead trees, please. NEST TREEBelow the same meadow that holds the dead snag sheds much of the rain from the latest storm.   Meanwhile Howard Prairie Reservoir is still far from full.  Cranes now forage across the land that is usually lakebed.   At least the water stands a couple inches deep in low spots and higher tufts and mounds are soft and easily spaded by a crane’s large beak.HP DRAINCRANE DNC7dig (1280x1142)

There’s still plenty of room at the Mountain Bird Festival coming at the end of May. Click here for registration site and list of all the field trips.MTBF COLOR LOGO


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