Nature Almanac for March 2021

Bumble Bee and Grape Hyacinth Bumble Bee and Grape Hyacinth in my backyard garden.

Here in Philadelphia…

The snow is still on the ground. It’s melting quickly. The birds are singing. It has been a long, shelter-in-place kind of winter. And I am oh so ready to work in my garden and walk the trails of nearby parks.

But if last fall was any sign of how crowded the parks will become, I will work on my backyard habitat garden this spring. I started replanting pollinator plants last year.

I’ll be starting borage seeds this weekend. Borage is a herb that bees go crazy for. I bought a packet of borage seeds from Botanical Interest this winter. I think two or three plants in my small backyard garden will draw in the pollinators, the bees and flies which will pollinate my fruits and tomato plants. You can buy borage seeds here.

My plans include growing more food in my backyard. I haven’t spoken about it but last year I had surprise carpal tunnel syndrome hand surgery.  My hand is still recovering. I stopped writing a book I was working. I’ll return to writing it this summer. But I have made headway on another title.

I am making progress on my book on butterfly gardening. I am aiming for an April release. Stay tuned.

Making a Bloom Calendar

Henry David Thoreau kept a nature journal. He was famous in his town for knowing the sequence of blooming of native flowers. This type of calendar is a ‘bloom calender’. Every Wednesday in March, I’ll post a list of what is blooming in my backyard habitat garden. It will keep me aware of the unfolding of spring close to home.

Did You Know?

The blossoms of many early spring flowers are white or yellow? The primary pollinators of early flowers are flies who lack color vision. The white and yellow blossoms reflect plenty of light to attract the flies. Read my post on the topic.

 

 

House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus)

Winter and Early Spring’s Key Happenings

Spring Equinox – March 20, 20121 at  5:37 a.m. EDT

Spring lasts 93 days until the Summer Solstice on June 20th, 2021.

The Moon This Month:

  • March 5th – Last Snow Moon, Last Quarter rises around midnight
  • March 13th – New Sugar Moon, New moon always rises near sunrise
  • March 21st – First Quarter Sugar Moon, First Quarter rises near noon
  • March 28th – Full Sugar Moon, Full Moon always rises near sunset

Algonquin Indian Moon Names 

Sugar or Sap is rising and weeping in the trees, especially Maples and Birches for syrup. Winter full Moons are high in the night sky.

“The Moon’s path across the sky changes with the seasons. Full moons are very high in the sky (at midnight) between November and February (winter) and very low in the sky between May and July” – The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2021, p. 102.

Moonrise occurs about 50 minutes later each day

Midnight Sun At the South Pole – the Sun never sets from September 23rd to March 20th,

Best Fishing – When the Moon is between New and Full  – March 13-28

Cardinal Cardinal

Stars in the Winter and Early Spring Sky

Circumpolar Constellations – from latitude 40 degree north – these constellations are always in the sky: Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Cassiopeia, Draco, Cepheus, and Camelopaedalis. link to post

Winter Constellations

in the Northern Hemisphere – Northern Evening Sky: Pegasus, Lacerta, Andromeda, Pisces, Triangulum, Aries, Perseus, Auriga, Gemini, and Cancer.

In the Northern Hemisphere – Southern Evening Sky: Cetus, Taurus, Orion, Eridanus, Lepus, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Gemini, Hydra, and Monocerces.

Spring Star Constellations in the Northern Hemisphere – Northern Sky – Leo, Bootes, Virgo, Corvus, Crater, and Cancer

In the Southern Hemisphere Sky look for the stars Alpha Centauri and Beta Centauri the southern pointers that point directly to the Crux (Southern Cross) constellation. March through September is the best time to see these stars.

Nature Study and Nature Journaling Activities

Nature in Spring: Table of Contents

Spring Nature Journal and Prompts

Make a Bloom Calendar

In a date book, or on a wall, calender note what plants are blooming or budding.

 

Red-Bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) Red-Bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)

Winter and Early Spring Birding

Waterfowl to move north.

Early nesting species begin breeding. Barn and other owls begin nesting.

Whooping Cranes migrate north.

Wood Ducks begin mating displays.

At night, can you hear owls call?

Which year-around resident birds are singing, mating and building nests?

Observing Animals in Spring

Beavers emerge from their lodges and make house repairs.

Watch for the appearance of young squirrels.

Have the Spring Peepers (frogs) begun to sing? When? What were the weather and light conditions?

Columbine (Aquilega canadensis) Columbine (Aquilega canadensis) in my backyard garden.

Observing Native Plants in Spring

Watch out for the first signs of blossoms (bud burst).

Are the Skunk Cabbages in bloom in wooded areas?  

Begin to watch for the blooming of spring ephemerals.  

Draw the new buds of woody trees and shrubs.

Notice the woodland floor. Is it greening before the trees and upper canopy?

Take part in Project Budburst

tree branches tree branches silhouetted against the sky

Land and Weather Observations

When do the spring rains begin? How much rain is normal in your area?

What is the weather like when you notice migrating birds?

What is the air temperature when you first notice flying insects?

Winter Weather Terms https://www.weather.gov/otx/Glossary_of_Weather_Terms

Saucer Magnolia Saucer Magnolia

Citizen Science Events to Participate In

Journey North

Project Budburst (year-round)

See more citizen science projects on SciStarter.org

That’s it for this issue. Look for the next issue at the end of March.

If you have a comment or suggestion, as always, leave a comment below.

Happy Nature Journaling!

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