Mariton: March Magic

April 5, 2018

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Just getting started.

During the last week of March I mowed the meadows on top of Mariton.  There was still some snow in the shadows of the fencerows.  I was able to mow through all but the deepest snow.  Tom Levendusky went up later in the week for a couple hours to touch up those areas after the snow had melted.

All finished with this meadow. Note the blue sky.

I spent two long days on the tractor getting the fields mowed.  I had lots of time to reflect, and witness interesting things.  On March 26, it was sunny.  It didn’t reach 50 degrees, but was comfortable on the tractor in the sun.  That day I saw a number of Eastern Comma butterflies.  Granted, the Comma is an early butterfly, but with March’s unseasonably cold weather I was a little surprised when the first one darted past the tractor.  Returning to the shop at the end of the day I passed a Mourning Cloak, another early butterfly, while I guided the tractor down the hill.

On Tuesday, the weather was cloudy and a little colder.  I didn’t see any butterflies that day, but I did see a pair of Eastern Bluebirds investigating a nest box.  Both were going in and out of the box and perching on top while “discussing the location”.  I thought it was still a little early for nesting (we received five inches of snow on April 2) but it was good to see the courtship behavior.

Wednesday morning, I heard the song of the Eastern Phoebe.  While friends reported hearing them a week earlier, I hadn’t heard them at Mariton.  (I couldn’t have heard them while mowing even if they had been here then.)  Like the March snows, I think the arrival of the Phoebes had something to do with elevation this year.

Another interesting snow cluster.

A product of the wet clinging snows of March were some interesting shapes of snow clumps that stuck to branches.  So, while March 2018 will go down in the memory of many as cold and snowy, there was some very interesting things happening here at Mariton during the month.