Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Phenology: October 10, 2011

Posted by Kirk Mona
Not phenology but on Thursday night of this week my computer died. It was an iMac and I can only assume it just couldn't cope with living in a world without Steve Jobs. Once it has a new hard drive it should be back in action but in the mean time I have no access to all of my files and a good deal of what feels like my brain.No podcast of the phenology this week. I'm going to have to make this as short and sweet as possible. We've lost another 30 minutes of daylight this past week. Here's what else I noticed.

The week in review:

Monday I taught at a local school and was blown away by how many wooly bears caterpillars there were. They were simply everywhere. I've never seen them in such numbers. There were even a few yellow bear caterpillars which turn into the Virginian Tiger Moth.The regular wooly bear caterpillars spend the entire winter as caterpillars and then in the spring turn into Isabella moths. I'm thinking we're going to have a banner spring for Isabella moths.

Tuesday I noticed the corn harvest has begun out in Northern Washington county where I work. You could see huge clouds of topsoil blowing away as the farmers harvested on this dry windy day. It seemed like migration was slowing down. The bird banders only caught small numbers of birds and there were no myrtle warblers even though they had been so numerous just a few days ago.  On another not so welcome phenology note, a co-worker found a woodtick embedded in her back today. They are still around. 

Wednesday, while fall colors are still spotty at least in the woods at work, I think today we tipped past the point where the number of leaves falling out number those yet to turn. The bird banders are getting more juncos. I still wouldn't say we're seeing large numbers but they are here for sure.

Thursday my co-worker Paul saw lots of myrtles. Is this another wave of warblers? Interesting to note that our other good day was just before a day of strong wind and what will happen Friday...

Friday: So windy! I saw more myrtle warblers again today. Male American goldfinches have lost almost all of their gold feathers. Still lots of white-throated sparrows around. I found myself sitting at my desk wondering if I was coming down with a fever and then I looked at the thermometer and realized it was 81° in my cube. This is NOT right for October.

Sunday I returned home from a mini trip away and was delighted to find a nearly red tomato in my back yard. I know for myself and other gardners it has bee a terrible tomato year. The fact that it took until October 9 th to get a ripe tomato is crazy. Sunday was the 8th day of 80 degree weather in a row which broke a new record in Minnesota.

The week ahead

Strong winds will continue to strip our colorful leaves away this week. Exposed trees will be bare by the end of the day Monday while more sheltered trees will hold out for a while yet. The strongest winds will be on Friday when a cold front pushes through. The front will also spell the end of our heat wave. I'm ready for it to be gone.

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