March 7, 10 am
It is a typical March day. There is a cool breeze blowing billowy, puffy clouds across the very blue sky. It is a good day to pay attention to the signs of spring approaching. This day I am in the southern end of the Willits valley walking along Outlet Creek. The creek water looks clear and full. It is a pleasant sound, the rippling of the water over the rocks and brush.
I notice a Red-tailed hawk flying into a tall cottonwood tree, Populus trichocarpa, with a small branch of Douglas fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii in its beak. There is a large platform nest that it lands near and carefully places the branch into it. It must be getting this nest ready for egg laying. It looks like a male because of its size but it is hard to tell from this distance. This is definitely a sign of spring coming!
The sounds of the Tree swallows flying overhead are another reminder. These birds always sound like liquid water plus their brilliant blue color adds to their charm. These birds are migrants who are only here to nest and raise their young.
Shortly afterward I hear the familiar croaking of a spring peeper. the Chorus tree frog, Psuedacris regilla. I find it in a small hole in the ground, probably using the home of a vole as an echo chamber to send out its loud sound of love to any female frogs nearby. It hopes to impress her with a great talent. These small, many colored amphibians are sure signs of spring.
As I cross over into a small woodland, the plants are definitely bursting out of the ground. One of my favorite early spring beauties is the Trillium ovatum, It is just in bud, unfurling its dark green triad of leaves. Next to this patch are some other early spring flowers, the milkmaids, Cardamine californica is in full bloom with their creamy white four-petaled blooms. The time has gone by quickly and I walk back to my car.
It feels as if spring is arriving soon.