Saturday, March 20, 2010

Birdwatching: Keeping a Year List

I've never been much of a "lister" in my birdwatching, but I thought it would be fun to keep a running list this year, just to see how that goes. I'll add recent sightings in my sidebar, but at the top of the sidebar or via this link you can take a look at the full list for the year. Birds are listed alphabetically by their common names, and first (or only) sighting date is noted where I can. For common, nonmigratory species I haven't bothered to do that. The sightings can be assumed to be in or near Northfield unless otherwise noted.

Birding friends: do you keep year lists? Life lists? Birding journals?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Snow Retreats, Spring Growth Bursts Forth

This garden bed in front of my living-room window was snow-covered until the weekend (my red squirrel post showed it still thickly covered on Friday morning), and already the daffodil shoots are springing up. The readiness of life to burst forth as soon as conditions are favorable is always amazing to me.
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

High-Water Sunset, Cannon River

I took these photos Sunday evening when Dave and I were walking along the Riverwalk at sunset. Despite the swift, high water the mallards are making themselves at home now that the ice has broken up. (Today I saw a pair come in for a water landing, then turn abruptly sideways like skiers to slow themselves and move toward the bank.) The water is spilling over the west bank today, and is up as far as the rodeo bleachers south of downtown. It's hard to believe the river was still ice-covered above the dam a week ago.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Large Ice Sheet Going Over the Dam

Here's a huge sheet of ice coming down the river and breaking up as it went over the Ames Mill dam about 15 minutes ago. [Video wasn't fully live when I first posted this, but now it is.]

Friday, March 12, 2010

Spring Melt: Ice Going Over the Dam

Here are three video segments showing large pieces of ice and branches floating downstream this afternoon above the dam. Part 1 watches a big collection of break-up coming downstream from the south, under the Fifth Street bridge.

Here's part 2, showing the debris heading toward the dam. You can (somewhat) see big chunks of ice and branches tipping up as they get to the edge.

This is part 3 - debris going over the dam. You can hear the roar of the water, and can imagine how quickly a person would drown with this ferocious amount of water pounding down.

Red Squirrel

This morning we saw a spot of bright color out of the living room window -- not a cardinal, but a little red squirrel. I don't see these too often, and usually it is at high speed and at a distance. I've never seen one come to the feeder area before. The big gray squirrels have been proving themselves adept at raiding the "squirrel-proof" feeders under high snow-cover conditions, and the thick accumulation of shells and some spilled seeds shows it. When things dry out, we'll have to clear away all the leavings. This little cutie decided to eat while the eating was good. Learn more about red squirrels in Minnesota here (Minnesota DNR) and here (Jim Gilbert writing in yesterday's Star Tribune).

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Fog and Open Water

Open water at last... though there is still a strip of ice along each bank.

Below, fog droplets dangle from the Ray Jacobson "Harvest" sculpture, with the misty river behind.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

More Open Water

There's now a long open strip of water above the dam (compare to yesterday's photos, where we only had patchy areas free of ice). I'll keep you posted. In 2008 I reported fully open water on March 18; last year I don't seem to have paid particular attention.
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ice Breaking Up, Cannon River Above the Dam

The first photo below was taken on Monday, after several days of thawing temperatures. You can see the ice is getting pretty thin in the center of the river.

The next three photos were taken this afternoon, after a couple more very warm days (well, warm for Minnesota in March -- highs in the upper 30s and low 40s F. and lows above freezing) and some rain. I wouldn't be surprised if the ice is out in the next day or two. Once it starts to go, it goes pretty quickly.

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