It’s About Time

Great egret, Ardea alba

Equinox is not just a day that signals the official change of season, it is an alert that the hours from sunrise to sunset versus sunset to sunrise switch their majority in the daily cycle. With vernal (spring) equinox just behind us, days are getting longer. It is curious how the day-to-day change is so noticeable around the equinoxes, but day-length changes so slowly around the solstices. Summer and winter linger at their peaks but spring and fall trigger the internal clocks of plants and animals to race through their seasonal cycles.

This year is proving to be a banner year for wildflowers all around. The winter storms that made the west coast miserable is paying off in record levels of blooming.

Being in the midst of rapid changes, I just turn around and the flowerbed I weeded last week needs weeding again. Those little bitter cress annuals need only a few warm days to germinate, put up their flowers and go to seed. I want to pull them before the seedpods mature. Their mature seedpods explode on touch, flinging tiny seeds in all directions, thereby guaranteeing long-term residence.

Bird life in the Delta Ponds continues to be active and entertaining. The mating rituals now taking place should bring great entertainment in the form of ducklings and goslings about a month from now. Diversity has been high this year, including more wood ducks. I notice these most elegant of dabbling ducks usually only in single pairs.

David Wagner is a botanist who works in Eugene. He teaches moss classes, leads nature walks and makes nature calendars. He can be contacted through his website,