Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Monday Phonology: January 9th, 2012

Posted by Kirk
I'm getting back into the swing of things with phenology now that the holidays are over. The sun rose Monday morning at 7:50 AM and set at 4:50 PM. I work until 4:30 so I can tell you I am really excited about those 20 minutes of sunlight in the evening. It isn't a lot but it already makes a difference. The previous Monday, sunset was at 4:42 so we gained about 8 minutes at the end of the day. Here's the interesting thing, sunrise for both of the last Mondays were only one minute apart. We're definitely gaining more at the end of the day than the beginning. Just for fun let's compare to the solstice back on December 21st. On the solstice, the sun rose at 7:34 and set at 4:34 for 8 hours, 45 minutes and 58 seconds of daylight. Monday, January 9th had 8 hours, 59 minutes and 28 seconds of daylight. We've gained about 14 minutes of daylight so far and we gain it faster and faster now. We're gaining about 1 minute and 22 seconds per day now. .

Here's your week in review:

Tuesday: I started my bird list for the year. I added the usual suspects at work but a few were missing. No hairy or pileated woodpecker, though there were downy and red-bellied. No juncos, or blue jays. These things will all show up though. I saw a flock along the side of the road I assumed were American Tree Sparrows and will check tomorrow. On the way home, five beautiful Trumpeter Swans flew right over my car, very low. It was an awesome way to add them to my year list. They circled around a farm field and stirred up a large flock of birds. I had a hunch what they were but pulled over to double check. Indeed, the flock was entirely snow buntings p, a great find for my first day out.

Wednesday on the way to work I spotted my first of the year Red-tailed hawks and first of the year Starlings. I also stopped to check on the flock I'd seen feeding on the side of the road the day before and sure enough they were American Tree Sparrows. Adding those three to my list on e-bird brings me to a whopping 14 species for the year. In the afternoon I took a hike at work looking for long-eared owls. It was a bit of a long shot and we missed. We did find a flock of at least 35 cedar waxwings, some American Tree Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees, Blue Jays, Crows and one purple finch. We also heard pheasants but did not see them. Some people list every bird they encounter, whether it be seen or heard. Personally, I don't count birds I just hear. There is value in recording these things, for example in ebird, but for me it is all about seeing birds. I'm not too worried about not seeing a pheasant this year.

Thursday I woke up and was greeted by the predawn singing of a Northern Cardinal in my neighbor's yard. It couldn't see him but it sounded beautiful.

Friday I headed down into Marine on St. Croix to pick up some lunch and some items at the St. Croix Watershed Research Station. On the way I saw some great winter birds including first of the year Common Redpolls, Bald Eagle, Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Cardinal and Dark-eyed Junco. This brought me to 25 species for the year. Not too bad considering these are just the species I have run into and haven't really put any serious effort into finding birds. The Hairy Woodpecker annoyingly eludes me.

I took the weekend off from birds and phenology and put my focus elsewhere.

The week ahead:
Things will start off with crazy heat for the winter. Temps may get into the 50s and break records. Watch for winter insects out and about with the warmth. This will be a great opportunity to see winter craneflies out and about.


Brian said...

It was mentioned elsewhere that astute observers can begin to see signs of nature moving towards spring this month. Is that true and if so, what would those signs be?

Kirk said...

Hey Brian, there are lots of signs of spring around. Later sunrsets, chickadees singng their spring song, mallard ducks doing pair flights, bald eagles checking out their nests, woodpeckers doing territorial drumming, owls doing territorial calling, and pretty soon here we will see yellow feathers coming in on goldfinches.