Sunday, November 6, 2011

Recent Observations (Late-fall Phenology)

Gray skies and brown ground. It's November.

We had a hard cold snap a couple of nights ago, and many trees that had been hanging onto their leaves dropped them within hours. On the whole, though, it's been a mild autumn. Today the forecast high is around 55 F., but with the recent leaf-drop we are really entering the drab brown period of late fall.

Many of our summer birds have moved on by now and a few of the birds that winter here have appeared. We started to see dark-eyed juncos on the ground under our evergreen tree and under the feeders a couple of weeks ago. And last weekend we noticed a red-breasted nuthatch for the first time in many weeks.

Crows have been congregating in large groups. Several days recently I've seen many of them in seemingly random swooping movements overhead in the late afternoon, and a couple of times (as seen in this recent video) a large, raucous group has gathered in the treetops behind our house and then flown away.

Boxelder bugs always swarm on the south face of our house in the fall, after the first cold snap. I will look forward to having them disappear soon as they find hiding places in the cracks and crevices to spend the winter.

We set our clocks back overnight, and I always picture some phenology-minded birds or animals noting, "Oh yes, at about this time of year, as if coordinating through some magic signal, or pheromones, the humans suddenly do everything a bit later in the day."

Enjoy the extra hour. My son and I are off on an expedition. If we're lucky, I'll have a good post to write in the next day or so.

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