Getting through the weather changes
The weather this past weekend was perfect for spending some time outside.
After the rain on Friday, the skies cleared and the breeze had the slightest hint of warmth to it. An enjoyable spring weekend, indeed. We should enjoy those kinds of days while we can.
Around here, the temperatures can go from cold to hot almost instantly, without stopping very long in the pleasant range. We’ll be needing the air conditioner soon enough.
The blueberry bushes in our front yard started to get flower buds on them in February. I was a little worried when that cold snap with the hard freeze was in the forecast, but they’re hardy plants that can withstand cold temperatures handily.
My grandmother had a few growing at the far end of her yard in Pennsylvania, beyond a long, narrow vegetable garden planted chock full of pole beans and tomatoes, with a few marigolds and zinnias interspersed for good measure. The winters there were much harsher, and the summers a bit shorter, and her blueberries always fared just fine.
When my sister and I would stay with her in the summer, she always had enough berries to make a pie for dessert and put up a couple jars of jam. But even with twice as many bushes growing in our yard, we never seem to have a surplus.
I netted those blueberries last summer to keep the birds from eating them, but even that didn’t make a difference. It turned out the real perpetrators were my kids, who were helping themselves to handfuls whenever the mood struck, which was basically every time one of them spied a berry ripe enough for picking. That didn’t leave much left over for other uses.
Based on the proliferation of blossoms that started opening last weekend, the snack forecast is good. Already bees are buzzing around the flowers, along with some other winged insects doing their part to pollinate them.
The first swallowtail of the year came through my yard on Sunday, and the rhubarb in the garden is well over a foot tall already. My husband and daughter built a cold frame a few weeks ago, and dozens of basil sprouts have started to take off. I can almost taste the first Caprese salad of the season.
Something else I’m looking forward to are the first crabs of the summer. Seems a little early, doesn’t it? But the recreational season is already open in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries and in the Atlantic Ocean, coastal bays and their tributaries. Better get prepared and put apple cider vinegar and Old Bay on the grocery list.
Most recreational crabbers probably won’t need to purchase a license. But if you plan to use a trotline, collapsible crab traps, net rings, seines or
eel pots, you’ll need one. And you’ll also need one if you want to harvest more than two dozen hard crabs (with a limit of 1 bushel) or more than 1 dozen soft crabs or male peelers (with a limit of 2 dozen).
All recreational crabbers are prohibited from selling crabs, but you can always share them with your neighbor, which is a surefire way to get on his good side. It’s illegal to possess a sponge crab or any female hard or peeler crab. Keep the ladies out of the cooking pot and put them back in the water where they can produce about two million eggs at a time.
Those who live on the water can use up to two crab pots without a license. Crab pots must be fitted with a bycatch reduction or turtle excluder device at every entry and be marked with the owner’s name and address. No license is needed to crab in the Atlantic Ocean, coastal bays and their tributaries. More robins this spring
I received a question from a lady in St. Mary’s County who was wondering if there have been more robins around this spring than usual.
I have to concur. I’ve observed some downright huge flocks of robins feeding in the farm fields that I pass by on my morning commute, something I don’t remember from years past. Just last week there was a robin on our birdfeeder, presumably helping itself to some mealworms, a sight I’ve never seen in my 13 years living here. There certainly seem to be more, and hungrier, robins this spring.
I knew I’d need a professional’s assistance to help me answer this question, so I turned to Tyler Bell, a true avian expert who sits on the board of directors for the Southern Maryland Audubon Society. Bell affirms that there does seem to be, anecdotally, more robins in Southern Mar yland this spring. He says it’s a “squeegee effect” that has caused so many robins to pile up here.
The birds have been gathering on their northward movement, traveling along in the warm temperatures. But when they encountered the colder weather and snow, they stopped moving north.
Bell said: “Wherever that happens to be along the sweep north, there are tons of robins. We just happened to be located where they stopped. This occurs occasionally with different species. A couple of years ago it was fox sparrows and last spring, rose-breasted grosbeaks.”
It helps, too, that robins are easily-identifiable birds we take note of in the spring.
Bell said: “Robins are conspicuous because they’re gregarious birds that aren’t tremendously afraid of people and can easily be seen on road edges or lawns.” Future is positive
My oldest daughter successfully completed the Maryland Hunter Safety Course this past weekend.
We often hear about how kids today are on an unhealthy trajectory, not getting enough physical activity or learning basic social skills because they spend too much time in front of television and computer screens. Well that’s not true of the kids who were in this class. They were all physically fit, respectful of their elders and enthusiastic about spending time outside.
The future is positive with this next generation of Maryland hunters. I suspect a lot of them will be out hunting turkey later this month. Experienced hunters, be extra careful out there and keep an eye out for these youngsters.