February 7, 10 am
After a whole week of higher than average temperatures in February, I go out into the valley to see what is happening. The first thing I notice is how much the grass is growing. It seems to be inches taller than last week! Then, of course, I hear the birds singing. The Western Meadowlarks are singing melodiously. This field is full of them grazing like sheep, though not eating the grass but looking for insects and seeds. One is up in an old pear tree singing as though spring has arrived. This sound always fills me with joy and I am reminded why it has “lark” in its name.
This area of the valley, which we call Plasma, has a small wetland area where a Killdeer has taken up residence. It is wary of me, giving me a long stare with its bright red eyes. In the grassland area, in front of me, are two other birds who also appear to be grazing, these are Northern Flickers, a type of woodpecker with beautiful markings and a very long sharp bill. One is a male with a bright red mark on its cheek called a “mustache”. They aren’t eating the grass but are also looking for insects, grubs, and other invertebrates to eat in the grass. This looks like a pair, a female, and a male, that moves through the pasture intently hunting.
It is very hot now, I think it must be 80 degrees, so I retreat into the coolness of the oak woodland. The fairly quiet and cool forest is a respite from the heat. It seems strange to be so overheated in February! There are Mourning cloak butterflies flitting about. These are our early butterflies and blend in well with the bark of the oak trees. The grey squirrels who live here are doing their usual scampering around the treetops, not happy I am there. My time is up and I allow myself one more look around the forest before walking out into the intensity of the afternoon sun.
I look forward to winter returning and hope for rain soon!