Phenology Project: Week 5

70°F, clear and sunny, light breeze

After a couple weeks of almost constant gray, drizzly weather, this is a beautiful afternoon, and once again the intoxicating sweet smell of damp leaf litter is filling the air. The surface of the soil is actually dry to the touch again, but digging my fingers down into the fallen leaves reveals abundant moisture.

While I’m sitting on my rock taking notes a Bald Eagle circles lazily overhead calling its ridiculous high-pitched whinny of a call; don’t believe the TV programs that would have you believe Bald Eagles have a majestic scream like a Red-tailed Hawk. A chipmunk grooms itself on top of a pile of woody debris nearby, rightly considering the eagle not to be a threat. Fluttering movement too purposeful to be a falling leaf catches my eye and I realize it’s a Mourning Cloak butterfly drifting past – I am amazed that after repeated freezes and frosts there are still insects about.

Most importantly, COLOR has finally arrived at my phenology spot. If you compare the photo above to last week you’ll see that the maples at this particular patch have become dramatically more yellow, though they’re still lagging behind the overall trend. This past week flocks of juncos have been moving through the understory, another sure sign that winter is coming.

The weather is supposed to stay sunny and mild all week. I’m not complaining…

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6 thoughts on “Phenology Project: Week 5”

  1. Yay, tree color! A feat of nature that man cannot duplicate or change; it always comes at its own time with its own intensity.

    I’m glad to know there is at least one other person out there who loves the smell of leaf litter. :)

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