Phenology Project: Week 2

Flartus reminded me I should tell you all what phenology means. It’s “the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, esp. in relation to climate and plant and animal life.”

Sunday, September 11, 2011, 2:02 PM
77°F, sunny and clear, Beaufort wind scale = 3-4

 The cold snap has passed and we’re having sunny, warm Indian summer – it’s twenty degrees warmer than it was last time I sat here. More and more of the sugar maples are turning color, and walking here I passed a yellow birch with one branch gone completely golden, but no color change on the aspens or tamarack yet.

At this particular spot the maples are still all green, however. Someone said the leaves might be turning early this year because of the dry weather, and I wonder if maybe this particular patch of forest has gotten a little extra moisture, but the soil is dry to the touch so who knows. The bracken ferns are still green but about half the clubmoss I can see is brown and dry. Does it die back naturally in the fall or is this drought?

Sometimes we’re not very good at noticing the absence of things, are we? When I moved here in July I’d hear red-eyed vireos and achingly lovely hermit thrushes singing every time I stepped into the woods. They’re gone now, to be sure, but I can’t tell you when exactly they left. Sometime in the last couple weeks the cicadas and other singing, buzzing insects have gone all but silent as well. All I hear these days are crows, woodpeckers, and bold, chattering chickadees.

How many more sweet, sunny Sunday afternoons before real cold sets in…?

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