Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Phenology: November 7, 2011

Posted by Kirk Mona
This morning was wonderful, I was so delighted that daylight saving time ended. We can all go back to regular time instead of our odd summer shifted hours. The sun rose at 6:59 am which meant it was already up when I left for work. The bright morning was fantastic. We'll see how I feel this evening. There are two sides to every coin and the evil side of this one tells us that the sun will set at 4:53 pm tonight. Not cool. I blame the axial tilt of the earth which was possibly caused by the impact of another planet early in the formation of the earth. It was possibly the same impact that created the moon out of ejected molten mantle but that's another story right? Point is, it is getting dark early now and today will only be 9 hours, 53 minutes and 57 seconds long. 

Monday I started to notice reports of common redpolls around the Twin Cities. There were some reports of people hearing redpolls mid-october but now just a few people are actually seeing them. I also didn't mention in previous phenology reports that the crows have begun to flock to downtown Minneapolis in the evenings. I saw them coming up the Mississippi on the St. Paul side crossing Marshall Ave/Lake Street around 6:30 PM last Thursday and then on Friday I drove though downtown on I 94 and saw hundreds of them crossing into downtown from the south. If you didn't see the Crowmageddon video I shot of the birds a few years back check it out. By the time winter really sets in, we have tens of thousands of crows hanging out downtown.


Tuesday there were white-tailed deer crossing the road in front of me on the drive home. The rut is on and that means deer are moving around a lot more this time of year. Drive carefully.

Wednesday there were incredible numbers of birds at the feeders in the morning. There were easily 50 or more juncos, chickadees, goldfinches, hairy, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers. It was quite an impressive sight. The juncos and goldfinches were the most numerous. The bird banders only caught five birds in the morning, three goldfinches, one nuthatch and downy woodpecker. I did see one lone white-throated sparrow under the feeders so at least a couple of them are still around. I stopped in on the banding just as a flock of hundreds of blackbirds flew right over the school group who were sitting watching the banding. It was awesome to watch the flock pass just 30 or 40 feet overhead. I was staring with my mouth wide open when I realized I should probably close it unless I wanted to ingest something less than desirable.

Thursday we took a mid-day hike down to the lakes at work There were 2 trumpeter swans, 2 Canada Geese and 1 female hooded merganser. The shallow parts of the lake were frozen over with a sheen of ice. It is getting pretty cold at night. I did notice though that there were still Bluebirds still around.

Friday I saw that Ami in Minneapolis noted the mullberry tree in her yard dropped all leaves suddenly. Mine did the same. The cold snap over night also made most of my burning bush leaves fall. Friday I also tried real hard to turn some roadside hawks into Rough-legged Hawks but they stubbornly refused and remained red-tails. People have been noting rough legged hawks around the twin cities though.

Saturday and Sunday it was very windy and cool but the sun was nice. I noted the seed pods of milkweed in my yard had dried and opened. Perfect timing with the winds.

The Week Ahead

Snow. There, I said it. There could be snow. The presence or absence of snow is very important. Keep in mind, in terms of solar energy, we're getting about the same amount now that we do in February. There are a couple of factors at play but snow cover in February reflects back the sun's heat while the same amount of sun in November is absorbed by bare ground and warms the local air mass. The longer we go without snow, and the longer they go up north without snow, the warmer we'll be.

The first chance of snow is tonight in Southern Minnesota and that chance of snow continues Tuesday and Wednesday.  We may see flakes in the Twin Cities but from what I hear most models don't show much reaching the Twin Cities. Models can be wrong though so we'll see. The Weather Service is showing 1-2 inches in the Rochester area and up to 4 in the LaCrosse area.

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