Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Phenology: February 13, 2012

Posted by Kirk
The sun came up this morning at 7:17 AM. That's still an hour after I wake up so not a lot of joy there. We've pushed sunset back to 5:37 PM though. That gives us 10 hours, 19 minutes and 54 seconds of sunlight but who's counting right?

Here's Nature's week in Review:

Monday The cardinals singing and it was pretty nice out. It was the last warm day of the week.

Tuesday was much colder but sunny. A lone European Starling was singing a cheerful song from the top of the trees at my son's daycare in the morning. He was there every pretty much every morning for the rest of the week as well. They may be exotic species but it was nice to hear him sing.

Wednesday morning I was about to leave work when my co-worker Paul saw a bird fly past the windows behind me. We grabbed binoculars off our desks and were delighted to watch a Barred Owl perch up about one hundred feet away across a clearing. We had a beautiful view as it searched for food. The owl was my 42nd bird species for the year in Minnesota. I haven't gone chasing after gulls and such this winter so that number could be higher if I was really trying. Wednesday didn't seem nearly as cold as they were predicting but another factor is that the sun's intensity feels warmer this far from the solstice so even when the temperature is low a bright sun can feel warm.

Thursday we dipped down into colder temperatures but the bright sun made it feel not so bad. This has just been a really mild winter. We've only had three sub-zero nighttime temperatures for the entire winter which is kind of a joke. Julie in Mahtomedi tells me she has a saw-whet owl calling at night near her house. I was actually going to tell people to listen for them next week as this is when they start to call.

Friday was the coldest day of the week and it was overcast as well which meant we didn't have direct sun warming us up. In the morning there was delicate tiny snowflakes occasionally falling but they were easy to miss. It was easiest to notice when they accumulated on rooftops and then blew off in the wind.

Saturday I helped celebrate Darwin Day at the Science Museum of Minnesota. I wasn't able to get outside but it was fun to talk with folks about what a professional naturalist does and answer their natural history questions. A migraine headache and weekend long visit from the in-laws meant I didn't get out to observe any phenology on the weekend.

The week ahead:
The national weather service is predicting a dusting of snow for the twin cities today but that's it for the week. Those further south in Minnesota may get a couple of inches at the most over the next few days. Weather wise it will be partly cloudy all week. Tuesday though Thursday it should be just above freezing with 5-10 mile per hour winds so I expect that we'll see at least a little more melting of what little snow we have. Male American Goldfinches should have some yellow feathers by now. Take a look with binoculars when they visit your feeders. This Thursday one year ago we hit a high of 52°, even with our mild winter we won't get there this year. One year ago Friday I got reports of people hearing Northern Saw-whet owls calling consistently from the woods. It was fun to hear that Julie in Mahtomedi started hearing them this year at the same time.  They are setting up territory now. Head out to listen for them at night. They sound a bit like the beeping of a truck backing up, only with hoots.