Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Let the Sun Shine

I don't think I actually have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), but I do prefer sunny weather than cloudy cold days in the winter, as do most people in Kentucky, I suppose. Once again, Google brings answers to all my questions. According to a study I found online, Louisville, KY, has actual sunshine only 43% of the time in winter, and an average of 18 clear days, when cloud covers at most 30 percent of the sky during daylight hours. So I headed off into the woods at Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve this morning, just to take advantage of this sunny day. The thawing ground and rain from yesterday made for some pretty muddy spots - walking on grass or leaves did not keep me from sinking in. However, sunshine makes up for everything!
Of course, I looked for birds first, and many of our local residents were singing in the sunshine too. In my experience, birds start to sing lots more after Groundhog Day in February. As I walked up a creek bed, I found Black Vultures flapping above, and a collection sunning themselves along the edge of a dam on the border of the Preserve. When I approached in my best stealthy manner, they saw me, of course, and took to the air. Notice the stubby tails that Black Vultures have.
Last week, all the creeks and waterfalls were frozen, but today the water is flowing freely, making delightful sounds that remind me of Spring.
A pair of House Sparrows are checking out one of our Bluebird nest boxes already. It will soon be time to remove the old nests and prepare for the new season. Until then, the birds will often seek shelter in a nest box when the weather turns bad.
I love to look for the first blossoms of the year, and found one witch hazel bush (Springtime witch hazel - Hamamelis vernalis) in the Woodland Garden that wins the prize. This small, spidery yellow and orange blossom hardly looks like a flower, and you don't expect to see anything blooming in mid-January. There are several varieties of witch hazel, which bloom at different times of the year, but almost always when it is too early or too late in the season to expect flowering plants!

Yes! Spring will come, no matter how many gloomy days we have to go through!

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