Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the March 3, 2007 Newsletter issued from Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, QUERÉTARO, MÉXICO

On Sunday morning I hiked around the reservoir again. It's a perfect hike, taking about three hours if you're in a rush, about five if you gawk at things. Here and there small marshes have developed along the shores of this manmade reservoir. As you might expect, water-loving willows are prominent among the woody species. Those willows are flowering now. You can see a summery-looking picture of male willow catkins below:


This is the Bonpland Willow, SALIX BONPLANDIANA, distributed from Arizona and New Mexico through all of Mexico into Guatemala. Among the 450 or so willow species, Bonpland Willows are somewhat unique in that instead of being early deciduous in the fall like most willows they drop their leaves irregularly throughout the winter dry season. Ours have passed through their leaf-dropping and you can see how fresh and so-far-un-bug-eaten the new leaves look.

In the shadowy, cool cove where I took that picture, Northern Parula warblers were calling their heads off, reminding me sharply of early spring days back in Mississippi when parulas were the first warblers to announce spring with real vigor.