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The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group. It is a place where we share our observations about the natural world. Whether we note the spring migrating birds or the first buds on your trees, we are building a resource to learn more about the patterns of nature and how they may be changing. Everyone is welcome to contribute!  Just tell us what you are seeing in your backyard or wherever you are roaming and approximately where your observations come from.
This is a seasonal update on my previous bucket on my woods in winter.  On March 5th, sunlight returned to a corner of our front yard, having risen above the trees along the southern boundary.  That's a sure sign that spring is here.  Let's go for another walk!  

In the last episode, we strolled through what I referred to as the "bare bones" of my forest here on the NE corner of the Olympic Peninsula of WA state.  Early spring adds flowering of the trees and shrubs as well as new growth and flowers of non-evergreen perennials on the forest floor.

Flowering shrubs

This year, I discovered that we have at least one Indian plum (Oemleria cerasiformis) shrub on the property.  I had never noticed it before and it is nice to be continually making new discoveries on this land. Indian plum, aka Osoberry, is one of the first things to flower in our area.

Indian plum (Oemleria cerasiformis)
Indian plum against a background of Western redcedar bark (3/15/13)
Both bwren and OceanDiver have previously mentioned Red-flowering currents (Ribes sanguineum).  Here in western WA, we look forward to their flowering as an indicator that the Rufous hummingbirds are soon to arrive.  The Rufous hummingbirds arrived here on March 19 this year - the earliest I've ever recorded their return.  The Red-flowering current is one of the plants that was introduced to European horticulture by the famous naturalist, David Douglas, between 1824 and 1833.
Red-flowering current
The Forest Floor

In the upland forest, there are several specimens of Western trillium.  Given bwren's experience, we're fortunate that our trilliums are several hundred feet away from the Mountain beaver (Aplodontia rufa) burrow that we know about on the edge of our bluff.

Western Trillium (Trillium ovatum) started blooming on 3/15/13.
Our wetland is the home of a vigorous clump of Palmate coltsfoot (Petasites palmatus) that grow along with Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica).  I tried planting some Skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanum) in the wetland, but it was out-competed by the coltsfoot plants.  
Coltsfoot and nettles
In the Trees

It is hard to detect any major changes in the evergreen trees, the Western redcedars and the Douglas-firs.  We'll see their pollen collecting on our car windshields, but it is the deciduous trees that are the ones that make a strong statement in the springtime.

The Bigleaf maple trees are just beginning to flower.  Until I photographed the flowers, I didn't really see just how beautiful they are.  The flowers come out before the leaves unfold.  

Bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) flowers
The Red alders (Alnus rubra) are now dropping their catkins.  We had a good look at those earlier this month in OceanDiver's bucket of pollen.  The leaves will now start emerging on the alders.

Happy Spring!  What is happening in your backyard?

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Wed Mar 20, 2013 at 10:54 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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