The Phenology Week in Review:
Last Monday it was still September and I watched the colors change before my eyes. There was a maple out the window at work that had hints of color in the morning and by the end of the day it was 50% changed. It was quite remarkable.
Wednesday I went canoeing and it was beautiful. There were trumpeter swans on the lakes at work and migrating turkey vultures overhead. Hard to ask for much more but we did get more. In the wake of the poor windy weather on Tuesday we got slammed with migrating birds. The mist nets were only open for a short time but we had 170 birds in them comprising 21 species. The banders actually had to close the nets as they were simply getting birds faster than they could process them. The flocks of birds were hitting the nets 30 at a time. Here's what was migrating through.
Thursday I taught deer ecology all day and ironically it meant I didn't get outside much. Early on in the day I was overseeing a rotation table on deer digestion when the kid's teacher pointed to the radar screen we have up on a kiosk and said, "Hey, are we going to get rain?" There did seem to be green blobs moving toward us. I clicked on the storm cells and saw that the biggest one only had 2 kg/m² of vertically integrated liquid. "Shouldn't be more than a sprinkle," I told him. As it turns out, 2 kg/m² is more than enough to soak kids who didn't bring any rain gear.
Friday I left work early but not before a short stroll though the woods. I could hear birds everywhere including what seemed to be an endless movement of white-throated sparrows. Some of them were tentatively practicing their spring calls and it was easy to entice them to sing with a little whistle. The only warbler I saw was a myrtle and it was fun to note through the binoculars that it was banded.
Saturday was a beautiful day. We've been really fortunate this year to have so much nice weather. Instead of getting outside to enjoy it I took my son to the model train museum. Hey, I've got more hobbies than birds and phenology.
Sunday was our annual Fall Color Blast at work.We had around 630 people come enjoy the outdoors with us. The great thing about the wide open outdoors is that 630 people feels like almost nothing. One of the readers of the blog, Sue, shared with me while I worked down at the lake that the bird banders had caught a fox sparrow. That was the first we'd seen them this fall. (Though Birdchick mentioned to me that she saw a dead one smashed on a bike trail in the Twin Cities earlier in the week.)
The week ahead:
Expect more migration. The banding totals are showing that many species are moving though but you have to really be out there looking for them. The Tennessee Warbler is a good example, even while mist netting birds and with 170 to choose from, we only had one Tennessee Warbler. This is a tough season to be out birding as even when you see a bird you then have to deal with fall plumage. I wish you all luck. Those of you into flowers there will still be time this week to enjoy the late season beauty of the asters. Some of the last monarchs are moving through as well this week. Speaking of insects, watch for prodigious numbers of wooly-bear caterpillars this week. It is a good year for them. These will overwinter and become Isabella tiger moths next spring.