Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Phenology, March 5th 2012

Posted by Kirk
We're gaining sunlight fast and furious now. The sun came up this Monday morning at 6:43 AM and set at 6:06 PM. We've gained almost a half hour of sunlight since last Monday! Every day this week will have three minutes more sunlight than the day before.  Go ahead and snow, I don't care. There's NO way it can last with this much sunlight. On Wednesday the sun will for the first time reach 40° high in the sky and creep a little higher each day. That will be more than 10° higher than on the same date last month.

Nature's week in review

Last Monday we got 11 hours of sunlight for the first time since October 15th.

Tuesday we started out with a few flakes and they quickly died off. The giant snowstorm predicted didn't materialize in the twin cities but they had white-out conditions up on the north shore of Superior. At 3am Wednesday morning I awoke to the sound of frozen rain drops hitting the roof.

Wednesday I still made it to work. Why is that any surprise? Some people didn't. There was some very light freezing rain and about 4 inches of heavy snow in some spots but the plows did a wonderful job of clearing it all away. That is what the plows are for. When did Minnesotans become so wimpy? We used to get snow measured in feet and shrug it off. Now we get a couple of inches of snow and they cancel school. It boggles the mind. We've become Seattle only that isn't fair to Seattle. They don't have plows there to handle the snow so it is understandable when they close down the city for snow. We have plows, we're prepared for this. On a cheerful note, my new lens arrived for my camera and there was a large flock of Horned Larks on the way home so I got a little practice with it. I still need more practice.

Thursday the warm-up began and snow melted like mad. Snow fleas were once again out on top of the snow. I wasn't sure in last weeks podcast how to classify snow fleas (springtails). I was fairly sure they were not technically insects. It turns out they are hexapods, so they have six legs but they are not insects. They are a type of arthropod as I had suspected. The warmer weather also melted the last of the snow on top of my rain gauge and I was able to get an official reading on the amount of precipitation for the Tuesday/Wednesday storm. The Twin Cities Naturalist official gauge recorded 1.65 inches of precipitation. Generally snow is 10x rainfall so if all that precip had fallen as snow we would have been looking at little less than a foot and a half of snow. I'm happy we were south of the snow line on this one. The four inches or so we got was plenty. We tapped the first maple tree at work and it was indeed dripping sap. I'm getting excited for maple syrup season.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday I had were just a blur of non-phenologically related errands so nothing to report.

The week ahead:

I mentioned this last week as well but be on the lookout for the first of the season American Kestrels. We usually start seeing reports as early as this week and with our milder winter it would not surprise me to see them soon. While not widespread, we'll probably see a few reports of red-winged blackbirds singing on territory this week. Don't expect them in large numbers yet but early arrivals will start to show up soon.