Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Phenology, October 17, 2011

Posted by Kirk Mona
I'm kind of getting used to the sun not being up when I awake in the morning. I don't like that I'm getting used to it but there it is. On the bright side, or rather, not so bright, is that the sun is no longer in my eyes on the way to work because it is still mostly below the horizon. Sunrise this morning was at 7:31 am and it set at 6:25 pm. That's only 10 hours, fifty-four minutes and one second long but hey, who's counting right?

The week in review:

Monday the sun was still behind the trees for most of my drive which seemed like a first. While we still had some fine color last week, many but not all of the trees were looking bare now. The taller ones and those on the edges of wooded areas got hit the worst by the winds and stripped them clean. Butter butts, aka yellow-rumped warblers, aka Myrtle Warblers,  and juncos were at the feeders at work though the butter butts were drawn by our water feature and not the seeds.

Wednesday I started to see really dramatic numbers of Canada Geese in farm fields. We're talking flocks of many hundreds. I went for a short hike and saw a winter wren, waves of myrtles, lots of yellow crowned and ruby crowned kinglets, juncos, swamp sparrows, and the usual year-round residents. The bird banders caught lots of birds before the rain came in by mid-day. Purple Finch, Hermit Thrush, Field Sparrow, Nashville Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Cedar Waxwing, Song Sparrow, Northern Waterthrush, Lincoln Sparrow, Orange-crowned Warbler, Western Palm Warbler, and a Blue-headed Vireo. The big numbers were 33 White-throated Sparrows and 29 Myrtle Warblers.

Thursday I taught our aquatic ecology class and was blown away when the kids pulled 21 water scorpions out of the water. We usually only see one if any during a class. 21 was an incredible number. 

Friday I was tired from having been up until 3:00 in the morning after the midnight screening of The Big Year movie. It was fun, you should go. If you like birds, you'll probably enjoy it. Here's what the bird banders caught on Friday while I tried to stay awake. American Goldfinch, Black-capped Chickadee, Slate-colored Junco, Swamp Sparrow, Purple Finch, Cedar Waxwing, Downy Woodpecker, Hermit Thrush, White-breasted nuthatch, White-throated Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Blue-headed Vireo, Blue Jay, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Saturday I hiked to the prairie with some kindergartners celebrating a birthday. The only flowers we could find were a few asters. It looks like the prairie is about ready for winter. We were able to find a few green tender hissop leaves and the kids delighted in their black licorice taste. My students again found large numbers of water scorpions in the lake. It must be a good time of year for them.

Sunday was important phenologically as it marked the day we slipped below eleven hours of sunlight per day. It was also the first day I saw Juncos in my backyard in St. Paul.

What to watch for:

It looks like the threats of our first snow have fizzled out and I'm pretty happy about that. We're behind the usual first 32° day though. That's usually around October 6th. Looks like we could dip below freezing on Tuesday night so time to harvest what is left in the garden early this week. I finally have peppers and tomatoes ready to harvest. The growing season officially ends at the first 32° day. Take a look at which trees still have leaves. Many of them are oaks. They hold onto their leaves late into the winter. Pretty much everything green in the understory this week will be buckthorn. One reason this invasive species is so successful is because it stays green longer than other trees and this helps it grow faster and longer than the competition.

2 comments:

rebeccainthewoods said...

You haven't had a freeze yet? Huh, I guess the Twin Cities are just that much farther south than us. Anyway, thanks as always, I enjoy these (particularly as they usually come out right as I'm writing my own version of a phenology post)!

Kirk Mona said...

Thanks Rebecca. No real freeze yet. There was one morning with frost but don't think it really counted as a freeze. I'm also in an urban heat island but still, even outside the city it hasn't really frozen yet.