Friday, January 30, 2009

A Little Moonshine

Last night as I left class at about 8:30, I looked to the western horizon and saw an eerie but lovely moon. It was moon-illusion huge, a smoky orange sliver of a "u" just above the earth. I felt lucky to have looked over just then and seen it!

They are predicting a warm-up tomorrow -- I hope the snow doesn't all melt!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Apparently, a student of mine reached through a hole in the ice into the pond and grabbed 5 tadpoles (presumably bullfrog). I do not know what he used to reach into the 33 degree water -- and I don't want to. But the tadpoles were so sluggish that he could just grab them! (I didn't see this but his mom told me about it, so I trust it is not fabricated...)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Let it snow!

After watching the weather and seeing that huge portions of the nation were getting winter weather of some sort, I admit I was a bit disappointed to have NOTHING happening here! But snow has started to fall... huge flakes, each flake containing many crystals clumped together. The snow crystals are beautiful. I would classify them as fernlike dendrites or possibly stellar dendrites. Definitely one of the classic, 6-pointed snow crystal designs. They are floating down like a holiday card.

We are only supposed to get an inch or so of snow -- hardly enough to create a clean slate for animal tracks. Still, it's magical out for a while, anyhow.

Here are pictures of the snow falling and a close-up of a snowflake on my sleeve (not an easy photo to take, but you get the general idea...)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Winter blahs

Perhaps January wasn't the best time to begin a phenology blog. Not as much happening right now as at other times of the year... snow on the ground, the lakes are frozen... it's a new moon (Happy Chinese New Year!) which means that this morning or tonight would be a perfect day for looking at winter constellations... if only it weren't cloudy! Oh, well.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Following Along

We are in the midst of a beautiful mid-winter week here in Grayslake, IL. Hard to believe, but today's predicted high of 30 degrees F is nearly 40 degrees higher than it was a week ago! This whole week has been sunny, mid 20s, with a thick layer of snow... perfect for tracking animals, and we have been doing a lot of it!

With a class of 3rd and 4th graders, I followed a coyote's tracks across the prairie. We saw the tracks get further apart as the canine ran faster, and at the end, we found his -- and our -- prize... a dead rabbit. Or part of one. Some fur, some intestines left over.

Also sighted this week: lots of vole activity, including some actual voles scared out of their subnivean world by large and careless feet; many, many birds, including a flock of chickadees singing loudly; squirrel tracks and a lot of osage orange midden; and a small town of ice fisher people on the lake.

Grayslake is at 42.35 deg N and 88.05 deg W. Sunrise 7:13 am, sunset 4:55 pm, moon waning crescent (beautiful, saw it on the way to work this morning!)