Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Look Quick before They're Gone by Judy Burris and Wayne Richards

This has been a very exciting spring for us as a sister-and-brother team. We have both left our jobs and have jumped into writing, speaking, and nature photography full time.

It just so happens that spring has arrived earlier than in any other year in the past century! We pack up and head out to the parks or woods just about every other day now, and we have been amazed by how fast the early spring flowers have woken up from their winter slumber. But what surprised us even more is how short a time we've had to enjoy them and take good pictures. With the almost summerlike temperatures in the 70s and 80s here in northern Kentucky, the delicate spring blooms might only last a day or two instead of a week. Visitors to the wildflower festivals that are scheduled for the middle weeks of April around here are going to find lots of green, but many of the flowers will be gone long before their normal bloom times.

Trout lilies

Spring beauties

And it's not just the flowers that are early. Amazingly, the frogs and salamanders laid their eggs during the last week of February in the shallow vernal pools. We have been photographing the tadpoles as they eat algae at the water's edge. We also managed a few shots of the elusive Jefferson salamander.

Jefferson salamander

Red-spotted salamander

This is expected to be a really big year for bug populations. Because of the mild winter in much of the country and our early spring, many insect species will be out in record numbers. For those who have our book The Secret Lives of Backyard Bugs, you should have no problem finding and identifying most of the fascinating creatures lurking in your yards at home. With such a bumper crop of bugs, we are sure that you will find some that you may be unfamiliar with, but do not fear. Take a picture of the critter, go to our website (www.butterflynature.com), and e-mail it to us, and we will do our best to help you make an accurate identification.

Zebra Swallowtail on lilac

The best news about this early spring is the number of butterflies that will visit your flower gardens for an extended period of time. We have already seen seven kinds of butterflies flying around our neighborhood. You may have an extra month to enjoy the miracle of their extraordinary transformation from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis, and finally the winged wonder of a butterfly. No matter how many times we witness this amazing life cycle, it never gets old. So get off the couch, grab your kids—don't forget your camera—and get out there and enjoy this wonderful year. We know we will. Happy hunting!

Judy Burris and Wayne Richards

Sister and brother Judy Burris and Wayne Richards are coauthors of The Secret Lives of Backyard Bugs and The Life Cycles of Butterflies, winner of Learning Magazine’s 2007 Teacher’s Choice Award for “Children’s Books” and “Product of Excellence for the Family.” Their articles and photography, as well as many stories written about them, have been published in Butterfly Gardener, Birds and Blooms, the Cincinnati Enquirer, Better Homes and Gardens, Cincinnati, and Backyard Living.


Wayne Richards said...

Look quick before the SPRING FLOWERS are gone . . . not the authors :)

ellen said...

Love that you had a picture of the Jefferson Salamander on your blog. Two years ago we had a Wetlands workshop at Beagle Ridge and the herpetologist/instructor located Jefferson's in three of our water ways. Never been found in our area prior to that.
At our elevation we still have lots of spring flowers which have not made showing yet. However the Dogwoods which bloom traditionally around Mothers Day are in bloom now.
As usual, your pictures are exquisite and I am thrilled and excited that you were able to take the leap to follow your passion full time.

Anonymous said...

Hi Wayne... I retitled the post. I didn't realize it read as such until you posted your comment. We hope you don't go anywhere!