Another mild and sunny morning sent me down to the South Platte Valley for a hike along the river. The recent bouts of warm weather had opened the valley lakes and the river's winter concentration of waterfowl had clearly dispersed. Small groups of mallards, gadwall and green-winged teal still fed at the margins of the stream, joined by a lone pair of wood ducks; flocks of common mergansers, redheads and ring-necked ducks had moved to deeper waters and could be seen on a large lake just west of the river.
While the grass was greening beneath the cottonwoods, the trees and shrubs remained barren, giving the scene a winter look. On the other hand, the winter silence had given way to a motley choir of magpies, song sparrows, killdeer, kingfishers and flickers. Above it all, a red-tailed hawk cavorted in the early spring breeze and a trio of cormorants headed upstream, back from a winter in the south.
A day after the spring equinox, the South Platte Valley had taken on the feel of a new season. Though spring snows are sure to follow, the thaw is here to stay.