Spring came officially on March 20. I thought that some folks might like to read about a few days in March 2012 and what we experienced on the same dates this March. On March 2, 2012, the high temperature for the day was 65 degrees. We went biking on the Pine Creek Rail/Trail. This year, the high temperature on March 2 was 31 degrees. On March 16, 2012, the high temperature was 75 degrees and again we went biking on the Pine Creek Rail/Trail. A fellow who works to keep the trail in good shape told us that in 2011 he was still making tracks for cross country (Nordic) skiers. This year, the high temperature for March 16 was 29 degrees. No global warming up here.

Many of us also keep some sort of records of a lot of things. A neighbor asked me the other day at a local store how much snow have we gotten this season. When I told her that I have not kept track since we spent some weeks away, her response was, "really, you keep track of everything." Her response was close to being correct. I do keep records of many things, a virtue taught to me by my Grandfather William F. McCloskey. Yep, I do celebrate St. Patrick's Day. My Dad, Edward J. Collins also is Irish; his great-grandfather Michael Collins came to America from Ireland in l844 as young lad.

Another first in lawn mowing was in 2012. I mowed our yard on March 28th, earliest on record since I moved to Alba from Canton in l982. Usually the very first mowing is no earlier than mid April (April 26 in 2011; April 15 in 2010; April 25 in 2009; April 25 in 2008; April 24 in 2007; April 19 in 2006; April 18 in 2005; April 15 in 2004; April 24 in 2003). You get the idea here. I am pretty sure that the first mowing this spring will NOT be in March and that is good.

We are rooting for a normal spring and summer so that our friends in all sorts of agribusiness have a normal crop. In 2010 and 2012, the local apple, cherry, and peach crop was about nil. Unless one is in that business, patronizes local growers, you do not see the devastation an early warm up and late frost can cause.

The next topic is some selected bird sightings. I did not do a log in 2012 for a variety of reasons; but two torn retina surgeries and the recovery period for each took from mid April until the end of the year. It was the very first time since I was a young lad of maybe 7 years of age that I did not do any fishing. Hunting was also out of the question. I do have major plans to fish at least twice per week; lots of folks count on our inviting them to a fish fillet dinner.

The first robins returned in Alba this year on March 11. In 2011 it was March 6. In 2010 the date was March 7. We have some records of the American bluebirds also. We observed the first one in Alba on my 67th birthday, February 19. Just the male was sighted that day. I took that as a really nice birthday present indeed. It was March 6 when we saw the first pair together. In 2011 the date of the first sighting was March 1.

Thus far, we have just one new visitor this season that we have never observed previously. On March 14, we saw three fox sparrows at the sunflower seed feeder. They are at most a casual visitor to this area, at least for those of us who are just casual birders. We do get some communications for time to time from the passionate birders that my observations are not completely accurate. So this is my "notice of disclaimer." The sightings that we record are either in the Alba area or while we are hiking, biking or traveling. And they are just a bit of a hobby to me and I actually started these logs because folks would ask me about bird sightings. It is just fun for us.

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Jim Collins is an outdoor columnist for The Sunday Review. He can be contacted by e-mail at jimcollinsinsurance@frontiernet.net or by mail at Outdoors with Jim Collins, HC, 1: 87 Windfall Road, Alba, PA, 16910.