Looking for Altona Forest clues that winter has finally hit a stop sign?
March is a changeable month – there is a wide variety of weather from snow to sleet to freezing rain to sunny warmth. Maybe that is where the saying ‘March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb’ came from. I also take ‘beware the ides of March’ out of context as a warning of March’s fickleness, treachery, and sly nature. I have a deep-rooted belief; if there is not one good big March storm, it’s not over! However, there are three big red stop signs to look for which are irrefutable signals of winter putting on the brakes and of spring’s resurgence.
- The dogwood branches become deep, bright RED. While dogwood trees (the new wood) and shrubs are famous for their red winter stems, their colour really comes to life in early spring as they sense the weather change. You can see these bright vivid stems through many areas of Altona Forest and along the hydro corridor.
- The male cardinals begin calling louder and more frequently. You can hear their mating calls echo though the forest as they look for their mates and seek their nesting territories and nest tree. It might be wishful thinking or my imagination, but they seem even brighter RED at this time of year.
- The red-breasted robins arrive. Look for these traditional harbingers of spring hopping through gardens with their glossy RED breasts puffed out. While some robins flock and stay in our area for the whole winter when there is food available (and we saw this in Altona Forest in winter 2013/14), the robins who arrive looking for the first bugs of spring seem to arrive when winter has finally given way to spring. Listen for their beautiful songs; they are one of our most common song birds.
Wander Altona’s trails and see how many of these stop signs you discover. Are we there yet? Is it finally spring after this long cold winter? Let’s just say I’m holding out for the robins!
Winter’s Red Stop Signs ~ © 2015 Natasha G