We noticed an unusual abundance of wood ducks in the eastside Delta Ponds back in April. By the end of May this abundance has resulted in the first clutch of wood duck babies seen in several years. One mother wood duck has 10 little ducklings scooting about! Hopefully, all will grow up to maturity by avoiding the predation the Canada geese goslings suffered recently.
The flush of flowering shrubs seems particularly profuse this spring. Early flowering had been delayed by a flood and a long winter dry spell followed by a record-setting snowfall. When the sun finally came out and, with plenty of moisture in the ground, every rhododendron is loaded with fat clusters. Ours are the prettiest they have been in years, thanks no doubt to diligent fertilizer applications this past year. Natives like wild cucumber, ninebark and cow parsnip seem more luxuriant this year, too.
Wildlife in the woods is as active as ever. Birds that nest in the mountain forests are migrating up the valleys and ridges. The song of the thrushes is one of my favorite sounds. In ponds frogs are leaving egg masses. The forest floor is alive with small critters, easy to find by turning over logs and rustling through the leaf litter. Millipedes are a good sign of summer beginning.
We must remember, however, that enjoying the benefits of nature demands that we continue fighting the enemies of environmental protection who have been appointed by the delusional sociopath we have as president.
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, fernzenmosses.com.