Monday, October 24, 2011, 4:30PM
51ºF, clear skies, no noticeable breeze
Last week’s photo was looking off more to left than the previous ones to show you the dead brown leaves still clinging to the maples – this week’s is looking a little more to the right to show you the long shadows over the meadow. They’re all taken from the same point, though. It’s interesting to compare this photo to the very first one back at the beginning of September, which was also taken around 4:30 – at that point 4:30 meant high enough, bright enough sunshine to just about wash out the bright meadow in the background of the picture. Now at this time it’s already slipping on toward evening. Apparently sunset yesterday was at 5:55PM, and sunrise at 7:36AM, giving us a grand total of ten hours and nineteen minutes of daylight. (In the middle of winter, after the autumn time change, the sun will be SETTING at 4:30… I don’t even want to think about it!)
As I was walking up that path along the meadow toward my spot, two small birds with contrasting dark tails took off and flew away overhead. Migrating Horned Larks? It’s the right habitat, but I’m not sure. One lone late grasshopper also hopped away from my feet. The next thing I need to remember to start watching for in the woods is crossbills (that’s a bird, for those of you not in the know), because there have been a lot of reports of them in the UP in last week or so.
Since I don’t have a lot new to report this week (now that the leaves are gone from the trees, whatever changes continue to happen are more subtle and harder to spot), I thought I’d pass along a couple links to other phenologist bloggers I’ve come across. Kirk over at Twin Cities Naturalist posts a wonderful phenology update every Monday, summarizing all the seasonal changes he’s noticed in the past week – I kind of stole the idea to write about day length this week from him, and his posts are especially helpful to me since, relatively speaking, he’s in the same geographic area I am. Tony at Nature’s Timeline, on the other hand, is documenting the phenology of his home patch in the U.K., and if you speak Turkish “aerial” has recently been inspired to start a phenology project focusing on a park near her home in Turkey. (I don’t speak Turkish but the photos on her blog make me wish I did!) Any other phenology bloggers out there I should know about?
Oh, and did anyone else see the spectacular aurora last night??? Theoretically the high school students where I work have mandatory study hours from 8 to 10 on school nights but last night that totally went out the window so they could all go out to the field and watch the northern lights.