Along the Air Line... 2016 - Spring, Part 1
The Air Line Trail in Eastern Connecticut - Stan Malcolm Photos

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Stan Malcolm Photo



March 21st.  Spring?  Four inches of snow overnight quickly melting in warm sunshine.















Snow caps remain on most stumps in the marsh.









Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) amid Red Maple blossoms.






March 23rd.  Late afternoon and still above 60 degrees.  Can you see the blue and white speck near the end of the branch to the left of the tree trunk?



Now can you see it?






A male Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon).



(It took 55 pictures and lots of editing to get these two barely acceptable photos.  Really pushed my little Canon SX-50.)



A Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) circled above before landing on a favorite dead tree.



American Robin (Turdus migratorius).



A pair of Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) far across the marsh on the channel side.  (Lots of very similar pictures follow, but who can resist?)






























March 24th. 









Male Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) at the edge of the trail.



Tuft on his neck suggests a fight.



Back in the channel with his mate.



Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) is starting to send up leaves.



Tiny yellow flowers (on the oval "spadix" inside the speckled maroon "spathe") are starting to fade.



March 25th.  A stressed Pine?



My guess is it's trying to hang on by sprouting needles wherever possible.  Anyone know more about this?  Ah, Dr. Mike Montgomery does.  See March 29th pictures, below, for the whole story.



Wind-drifted pollen collecting on the marsh surface.



March 26th.  Red-tail Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) circling high above and far across the marsh.






Pussy Willows are in full flower.












March 29th.  Now I can tell the story of the odd pine I photographed on March 25th.  It's a Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida).  The tufts of needles growing right out of the trunk or major limbs is common in this species.  The correct term for them is "epicormic branches".






Three needles per bundle is another key characteristic.  (White Pine has five needles per bundle.)



Squat spiny cones.



A beautiful day, though temps only in the low 40s and very high winds.



The first Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) of the year.



Periwinkle, or Myrtle (Vinca minor).