Spring is coming

Yes, Spring is coming. Well, maybe. Here at Gracefield Hall we are experiencing wild temperature swings; 70s one day and 20s the next. Go figure. But, the sun is warm and the grass in the field behind the house is starting to turn green and grow. That brings out the deer which have had little to eat throughout the winter. We have two herds: the east herd that grazes in the field behind the house; and, the west herd that grazes in the yard in front of the house. Both herds have 8–12 deer from adult does to yearlings. How do I know we have two herds? Because they have both been out at the same time.

Spring is coming

8-point buck in the front yard

But, I digress. Back to the subject at hand: Spring is coming. Our resident hawk is back, circling overhead and calling for a mate or establishing his territory. Not sure which and it could be both. I am not a hawk expert. I am not even sure what type of hawk he is because they look very similar. He might be a red-tailed hawk or a red-shouldered hawk.

Red Tailed Hawk?

Because he has not come close enough and moves so fast I have not been able to identify him even with binoculars. He occasionally sits in a large oak tree on the northwest corner of the field behind the house watching for small critters in the field. I have only seen him make one strike in the field and I don’t know what he got; perhaps a vole or mole since they are plentiful.

The cardinals and robins are back in the field. There is plenty for them to eat. The nuthatches and chickadees stayed all winter but the bluebirds and gold finches have yet to make an appearance. Last fall we installed two bluebird houses on the south edge of the field which, so far, remain unoccupied. At dusk we are beginning to see the swallows and bats swoop through the air over the field, feeding on whatever bugs they can find. Sitting on the bench on the back porch, we can watch them swing back and forth in diving arcs. I have not yet heard the wild turkeys calling.

Spring is coming

Turkeys in the front yard at Gracefield Hall

They stay mostly in the woods that surround the house. Occasionally they walk through the field looking for something to eat. If they are spooked they will fly up into the lower branches on nearby trees. Last spring we saw a flock of five or six adult females with eight or nine young ones. Canada geese are heading north, calling as their V-shaped formation wings overhead. Occasionally, a flock will stop in the field for a rest but never stays for more than a few hours.

The northern flickers are beginning to tap on the trees in the woods around the house. They are fairly common in our area and also feed in the yard in front of the house. We even have a few pileated woodpeckers. They are large and easy to spot.

Well, spring is coming and as the sun warms the ground it will soon be time to till the garden and plant the vegetables. While we might be working outside, come and sit on the bench on the back porch and listen and watch the birds. Or, if you want some exercise, walk around the edge of the field and see what you can spot.

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