Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Phenology: Halloween Edition 2011

Posted by Kirk
Our fair weather friend the sun rose at 7:49 AM. We're getting awfully close to the 8:00 hour but the end of daylight saving time will put a stop to that. Sunset will be at 6:03 PM today. Dinner in the dark anyone? Bring on the candy, Happy Halloween.

The Week in Review:

Monday I swung by the bird banding station at work to see what they had caught. They had a grand total of one bird, a fox sparrow. Late in the day a Coronal Mass Ejection from the sun slammed into the earth's atmosphere triggering one of the largest Northern Lights displays in a long time. It seems like half of the US was able to see it. People reported glimpses in the Twin Cities but of course, we had clouds.

Tuesday I had the distinct impression of a second fall color peak. On the drive to work there were incredible deep reds and warm browns of the oaks mixed in with bright yellows of birches and various members of the aspen family. It was gorgeous and especially noticeable around the edges of area lakes. I think it was even better than the maple peak back at the beginning of the month. On the way home from an afternoon outreach event, I had the good fortune to see a beautiful male harrier hunting gracefully over a recently harvested corn field. They have got to be one of my favorite raptors to watch fly. The banders caught the following: 1 American Goldfinch, 7 Black-capped Chickadees, 1 Slate-colored Junco, 1 Downy Woodpecker, 5 White-breasted nuthatches, 1 White-throated sparrow. Interestingly, that was the last white-throated sparrow caught all week. Have they finally moved on?

Wednesday I have only banding numbers to report3 golden-crowned kinglets, 19 American Goldfinches, 1 American Tree Sparrow, 13 Black-capped Chickadees, 4 slate-colored juncos, 3 white breasted nuthatches, 1 hairy woodpecker, and 1 Northern Cardinal.

Thursday morning it was cloudy still from a little early morning rain. My commute started in complete blackness. It was the darkest morning yet of the season and a sign of things to come.
Banding turned up some goodies though. 1 Golden-crowned kinglet, 13 American Goldfinches, 2 American Tree Sparrows, 9 Black-capped chickadees, 2 myrtle warblers, 6 slate colored juncos, 1 Hermit thrush, 1 white-breasted nuthatch, 1 blue jay and a sharp-shinned hawk. 

Friday I left work a little early so I could take my son to a Halloween party. I was delighted to see a huge flock of blackbirds undulating all around a local corn field. It was one of the largest flocks of blackbirds I've seen in my life. I would have thought they had all headed south by now but they must be sticking around for the corn harvest. Here's what hit the nets while banding. 1 golden-crowned kinglet, 18 American goldfinches, 1 American Tree Sparrow, 18 Black-capped Chickadees, 8 slate-colored juncos, 1 downy woodpecker, 4 white-breasted nuthatches, 1 fox sparrow and 1 American Robin.

Saturday and Sunday I was consumed with Halloween preparation so phenology took a back-seat to painting and sewing. I did note that the neighborhood posse of house sparrows have taken to hanging in my yard now that I'm putting out bird seed again. The blue jay is back as well.

The Week Ahead:

Nest week things get freaky time wise as we end daylight saving time on Saturday/Sunday. Suddenly the sun will rise an hour earlier, or rather, we'll collectively agree that it is a good thing to sleep an hour longer. What we're actually doing is going back to real time. In the summer, we pretend it is an hour later than it really is so we can enjoy the evening daylight. The benefit is arguably silly as most of us are no longer farmers who need extra light to bring in the harvest but, hey, I guess we love tradition. The not so nice news is that shifting back to regular time will mean that suddenly the sun will set at 4:54. Not cool. Not cool at all.


Unknown said...

I agree about the second color wave being spectacular last week, and better than the first wave, which I found rather disappointing. Our late-changing maple in front of our house has been a gorgeous gold for the past several days, but is dropping its leaves quickly now.

Kirk said...

Yeah, the maples were duds. There were good ones here and there but not a widespread spectacular show. The oaks pretty well kicked their collective trunks this year. I think some of the really good maples I did see were cultivars in people's yards. Wild maples were mostly yellow and dropped fast.