Winter is past in the Hill Country of Central Texas, though the rains are not over and gone yet, for which we are profoundly grateful. The Austin area has had better than 12 inches of rainfall so far this year and very few frosty nights. That 12 inches may not seem like much, but it’s twice the yearly average so far,and we did not get half that much in the same period last year.
Flowers are appearing earlier than usual on these hills. Our Texas Mountain Laurel and Agarita are in full bloom. Peach trees have already blossomed elsewhere in Wimberley, and now Redbud trees, Mexican Plums, and Burford pears are coming into flower. Our hyacinths and narcissi have faded, and daffodils are taking their place. Last summer’s drought killed the lawn grasses, but wintergrass, dandelions, red henbit, sow thistles and other opportunists are taking advantage of the early spring. Our bluebonnet seedlings look healthy too, and we look forward to a good showing.
Our winter hummingbirds are still with us, and now we see flocks of Lesser Goldfinches with American Goldfinches and House Finches. There’s a fair variety of sparroiws in addition to house sparrows (Chipping, White Crowned, White Chinned, and others). Opal know the sparrows better than I do. American Robins frequent the neighborhood but do not visit our bird feeders. The regular residents, great and small, provide the songs: cardinals, wrens, doves, and mockingbirds.
Butterflies have been scarce so far, but we have observed Estern Tiger Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail, Lyside Sulfur, Dainty Sulfur, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, American Lady, and Gray Hairstreak. The list should be twice as long in normal years, but the butterflies may take a while to recover from last year’s sizzling Saharan Summer.
Weather forecaste indicate another hot, dry summer lies ahead. Our mild winter alsmost seals that dismal verdict. Until then, we will make the most of spring.