Spring 2017 in NW Alabama

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My internet has been off and on sporadically the last few weeks, so that’s why you haven’t heard from me in a while. Daniel came and replaced the box outside that sends signals back and forth to the tower on the mountain. So hopefully I’m back in business.

Spring has arrived, and with rain in the forecast all next week, farmers were working late into the night planting corn. Winter wheat is beginning to tassel out. Soon the sound of combines will be irritating hooligan Patches — one of my rescued border collies. Dogwoods, two-winged silverbell, and paw paw native trees, as well as native azaleas, are finishing up their bloom cycle. My irises and peonies are heralding in the spring. Tiger swallowtail butterflies are everywhere. Historical walking tours are taking place in Florence, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia. The rides are running at Spring Park again. Spring is definitely back in Alabama. With the rain, pastures are greening out, but somehow grass is still greener on the other side of the fence.

Spring bird migration is occurring. The first hummingbird made his presence on April 4th, a couple of weeks later than last year’s first spotting. My feeders have been up since the middle of March. I could tell my feeders were being used but was missing visits. One of the ruby-throated males guarding a feeder along the driveway looks like a sumo wrestler compared to the others. I posted his picture on a birding site asking what breed he was.

A pestilence of mayflies in the area has brought cedar waxwings to my house for the first time. They are swooping back and forth like swallows between a tree at my house and one at Mom’s. Another visitor is a rose-breasted grosbeak. The male has been at my feeder (made of a recycled, wire hanging basket with a clay saucer in the bottom instead of the coconut liner). The female was checking out the bird bath.

My koi pond with solar pump in the front yard hasn’t made any progress while we fight the honeysuckle, blackberry, hackberry, and privet that has overtaken the garden behind the house. Blackie can’t wait for the pond to be ready. I had found a small fishing pole, just her size in the water on the Tennessee River on one of my birding trips. I’m not sure how long it had been in the water, but it was pretty muddy. I put it on top of my roll-away garbage can when I got home. Trash day, I laid it on top of a flower pot and forgot about it. One afternoon after work, I was chasing after a tiger swallowtail behind the house. When I came around to the front it had disappeared, and I set my camera on Sulfur. As I tired of it, I noticed Blackie struggling to get through some shrubs with something in her mouth. What in the world has that dog got? I thought to myself. When she finally made it through the bushes, I saw she had the fishing pole in her mouth. She walked up to Patches lying near the pond site, and the caption of the following photo would read: “Are there fish in the pond yet?” When I asked her, “What are you doing with that?” I got a look like “What?”