Nature is stirring from her winter rest. She begins leisurely with buds slowly expanding and showing light green in the cracks of the bud scales. Indian plum is the first to be noticed because its eye-level buds are so big and flowers burst from them by the middle of February. I keep a sharp eye on the snowberry bushes because their early spring leaves join the Indian plum for the earliest flush of green in the valley forest understory. Snowberry flowers are much later, however, so the spring buds are small. Pussy-willow buds show fuzz soon.
Bird songs are becoming more frequent in our neighborhood. Song sparrows are the most prominent, from the vicinity of the Delta Ponds up onto the butte nearby. Robins are still in migrating flocks but will soon spread out to set up nesting territories. I suspect some of the robins I see have been resident, around all winter.
Heron nests in the east Delta Pond cottonwood rookery were vacant and forlorn all winter. There were seven last year by the time full occupancy was reached. At the end of winter the tree has five nests in it. Two must have been flimsy for only five nests to survive. Now the herons are back; I saw five tending the five nests at the end of January. Because this tree is one of the late ones to leaf out, we will be able to watch the nesting progress through most of the early breeding season.