What To Watch For – Early April
By Bryan Hamlin
Spring is now in full development with new life showing everywhere. More change occurs in the Fells woods during April than one might realize. At the beginning of the month there are buds on just about every woody plant, and by month’s end several will be leafing out. Woody plants have of course a big advantage in that they don’t have to start from scratch. In fact on warm days going back to February the sap has been running, making the buds fatter, and now several species of tree will blossom this month. These are not the layman’s ‘flowers’ with petals, but the florescence of the Red Maple and Pussy Willow, and the dangling catkins of birch and alder are quite attractive, and all in bloom in the Fells in April.
At ground level, stream banks are where most greenery is to be found in early April as various water-loving plants get a head-start because of the relative warmth of the water compared with the still cold ground. Look for the bright green shoots of Indian Poke, Veratrum viride, with their beautiful ribbing, and the round leaves of Marsh Marigold.
Suddenly it seems we’re aware of birds everywhere with both dawn and evening chorus. The cute Nuthatch is running up and down trees and swooping from one to another; and robins will strut along the trail in front of you. The ‘quacks’ from vernal pools can have you looking for ducks, but it will probably be the call of wood frogs early in the month, and by month’s end many tadpoles to be seen wriggling near the pools’ edges. And remember the Salamanders congressing at the end of March? You can now see blobs of eggs lying on the brown leaves at the bottom of vernal pools. And not only are amphibians about but reptiles as well, choosing any sunny day to warm up their blood and get going.
The information and images in this post initially appeared on Found in the Fells, a project of Friends of the Middlesex Fells Board Chairman Dr. Bryan Hamlin.