Every spring I love to follow the progress of nature with many species making an orderly appearance with the season and others leaving to go north. The first to arrive are the coltsfoots. Tiny yellow flowers that prefer the worst possible roadside habitat. Close behind the ever popular robins. My particular favorite, the emergence recorded on another beam in the basement, is the spring peeper. There is a spring peeper line on the NS Museums website site that follows its progress from south to north throughout our province. Peepers first called in Lochaber on April 20th. On their heels a couple of days later were the wood frogs followed by the loons. Around this time the Redpolls left for the north. Next came the Grackles, Red-winged blackbirds and the Yellow-shafted Flickers ( named for the yellow shafts on their tail feathers but also known as Yellow Hammers due to color and drumming noise) My Tree Swallows returned to their nesting boxes on April 29th which is about a week early. I maintain they are either the same ones that left last summer or their offspring; an opinion based on faith rather than proof. Next and ugliest are the American toads.
My all time favorite, and I have hundreds , are the fiddlehead ferns. Many people ( especially those from New Brunswick) do not realize that we have good numbers of Fiddlehead ferns growing wild along our larger rivers and streams in Nova Scotia that are the same as they pay $4.00/lb for at Sobeys. Interestingly, picking them is not in the culture of the original Scots or Acadians and I suspect not in the Micmac culture. Prior to refrigeration and grocery stores people were starving for a fresh vegetable in May and didn’t realize there was a bounty growing wild nearby. The rivers in Cape Breton are loaded with them. They are perfect for picking from May 7th to 15th depending on the spring. I visit two large patches (and there are many more) and I have yet to see another human track other than my own. One word of caution….do not eat them raw. To make sure you have the right fern…they have a “U” shaped stem like a celery stalk.
Colts Foot Spring Peeper
Wood Frog Redpoll
Yellow Shafted Flicker The Yellow shafts
Fiddlehead Fern Habitat Ready for cooking