The aura of white light that accompanies snow and always reminds me of Christmas greeted me as I made my way to the pond the first day. My husband suggested that I wear snowshoes but I refused. It was mid-May after all. They would have proved useful, however, as I "post-holed" with each step. The small stream that trickles out of the upper pond to the lower pond was burbling down over the rocks that line its course, green grass at its edges as it's motion and relative warmth gave hope that spring would eventually conquer the last remnants of winter. The small buds on the willow trees that grace the edge of the pond also gave one reason to remember that the deep and unwelcome snow was only temporary. As for now, nature is catching a few extra winks under its blanket of white. As evening approached it felt surreal to hear the spring peepers calling in a world devoid of color.
As the week progressed the snow slowly melted. We were surprised by how much the grass had greened underneath. Later in the week, as we walked around the pond with only the occasional patch of bright white snow here and there, we saw ripples and heard "plip" "plip" as frogs quietly moved beneath the surface of the water as they sensed us coming. We are not sure if they were hearing us, seeing us, feeling the motion as we walked, or a combination of all three. We were surprised to see many frog egg clusters floating just beyond our reach at the edge of the open water. There are many more than we remember seeing in years past. We even noticed cloudy white clusters attached to foliage near the bottom of the pond. Those are salamander eggs, I believe.
On Thursday, as we sat and watched the pond we saw water skaters quickly darting along its surface and cattail shoots just starting to poke their green heads out of the mud. A kingfisher chattered as it skimmed the surface looking for small fish. We have a male and female mallard that visit often. We think that the female likely has a nest somewhere close. One year she nested right up next to the house. Another year she presented six fluffy black and yellow babies as my children and their friends celebrated a birthday party on our front lawn next to the pond. Other birds that I am familiar with and notice their calls are the eastern phoebe and oven-bird. The phoebe is supposed to say "Phoebe" hence the name, but I always hear "Where do you work? Rite-Aid, Rite-Aid". It isn't traditional but it helps me identify it right off. On Friday, for the first time this year, I heard an oven-bird. The oven-bird calls "Teacher, Teacher, Teacher". Earlier in the spring, we watched crows build a nest in one of the pine trees near the pond. We've also been watching a grackle build a nest in a blue spruce in front of our bedroom window next to the upper pond. On Wednesday, one of my research assistants found an egg on the grass next to the pond. We're not sure but we think it might be a flicker egg. We did have two flickers visiting our suet feeder in April. The egg prompted us to do a lot of research on the flicker and its nesting habits and to also reach out to the birding community on Facebook to help us id it.
The buds on the trees have increased in size as the week has progressed and the trout lilies have shot up flower stems with closed yellow buds. I predict that by the end of next week, most of the trout lilies will have bloomed and the leaves will be as large as a mouse's ear. These are both telltale signs that the trout will be biting.
I am wondering how the frog eggs will progress. The clear gel that holds them together deteriorated as the week went on and I'm not sure if that is due to the variance in temperature, if it normally happens that fast and I have never noticed, or if some other factor is at play. I also noticed chewed up pieces of cattail stalks which likely indicates a muskrat is around. I haven't seen it yet. I will keep watching. I am looking forward to watching the flowers and leaves emerge and the baby birds that will be born. Life at the pond's edge is never dull.