First day of spring 2011!

2011 March 20
by David J. Ringer

VICKSBURG, MISS. — On Sunday, March 20, Earth’s equator faces the sun, an event called the equinox, and in the northern hemisphere, the vernal equinox. In North America, the vernal equinox is widely regarded as the first day of spring.

Here in the southeast, spring is already well underway, but the third week of March does seem to be a turning point. Birding on Saturday, I encountered singing Northern Parulas, Pine Warblers, Black-throated Green Warblers and a lone Black-and-white Warbler. Louisiana Waterthrushes, Yellow-throated Warblers, and Prothonotary Warblers should be making appearances any day, if they’re not here already.

Trillium sp.

One of the trilliums called toadshade, an early woodland wildflower. I haven’t worked out which species this is – perhaps Trillium sessile? T. cuneatum is another possibility, but I think that would be larger. Some trilliums are called wake-robins because their blooming heralds the return of spring birds. Here, the first warblers do start to arrive when the trilliums are in bloom.

Coinciding with this spring weekend was another astronomical phenomenon — the “supermoon.”

full moon at perigee

Saturday night, the moon was at perigee, its closest point to Earth. It was also full, and so it appeared large and very bright. I stood out on my deck watching bats flutter past ghostlike in the moonlight and listening to Barred Owls calling back and forth and spring peepers and chorus frogs creating a din that I couldn’t help but interpret as joyful.

Related posts:

  1. First day of spring 2010!
  2. Happy first day of spring!
  3. First Purple Martin of spring and a big flock of Rusty Blackbirds
  4. Birds of the Equinox starting soon!
  5. Coy mistress Spring

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