I, for one, like the cold (in small doses), but every year around this time I start to get a bit of cabin fever, wishing it was spring already.
However, there is still hope! The shortest day of the winter, December 21, had fewer than 9 hours of daylight. Fortunately that is long behind us now, with the total amount of daylight for today being 9 hours and 38 minutes. I have started to notice the incremental daylight increases when out birding on recent outings. For instance, the other day I was scanning ducks at Windermere Basin in Hamilton, well after 5 PM. In late December we would often have to call it quits by 4:30 or 4:45 PM. By the end of February, with spring right around the corner, the day length will be 11 hours and 10 minutes, with sunset happening after 6:00 PM!
|Current day length in Hamilton|
Of course, even with this chilly weather, there are signs in the avian world that spring is coming. Some owls are calling more regularly and even starting to nest. The first "spring migrant" Horned Larks have probably arrived last week with the warm weather in southwestern Ontario. It won't be long until we get a pulse of warmer weather, bringing with it the first spring migrant dabbling ducks - especially Northern Pintails.
Of course, one of my favorite pastimes is to search out breeding amphibians in their vernal ponds in certain woodlands. Usually the first wave occurs around March 15, a mere 50 days away! Here are a selection of photos of species we can look forward to in the upcoming weeks, as winter slowly loses its icy cold grasp...
|polyploid Ambystoma salamander "migrating"|
|First "lep" of the year - Mourning Cloak|
|Spotted Salamander on its way to the breeding ponds|
|Known to some as the Eastern Konk-la-reeee|
|calling male Spring Peeper|