Thanks to the effects of human-caused global warming, 2014 was the warmest on record in the western United States and parts of Florida. Ironically, most of the eastern United States experienced one of the coldest winters in recent history, but the actual amounts of circulating cold air were the smallest ever recorded. Evidence of a cold winter can be seen in the timing of the emergence of the flora on Naked Mountain – about a week late.
But they are coming on strong now. Here are some photos of spring ephemerals, taken earlier this week, very near the summit of Naked Mountain, so an elevation of about 1,950 feet.
This week also saw the emergence of Mourning Cloak butterflies, but not Eastern Tiger Swallowtails or Zebra Swallowtails which usually show up when the spring ephemerals begin blooming. I expect, though, to see them very soon.
Bird activity is also suppressed so far. The first “migratory” bird I have heard is an Eastern Towhee. I used to call this bird Rufous-sided Towhee, but recent DNA research confirms the Eastern Towhee is a distinct species from the Western occurring Spotted Towhee. Both species were lumped together and called Rufous-sided. In Virginia, Towhees don’t really migrate great distances, but they will occupy lower ground in winter and gravitate to higher ground in spring for the nesting season. So, for Naked Mountain, I consider them a migratory bird and, this spring, the gentle directive, Drink Your Teeeeee, was the first migrant song of the season.