Thursday, March 19, 2009

S minus 1

The last official day of winter is deceptively bright and sunny.  Through the window, you almost think you don't need a coat.  But the air is chilly and the wind is biting.  

I believe I saw buffleheads on the lake today.  (Although I will reiterate here my poor status as a birder overall; and I had no binoculars).  I could clearly see a whole group of littleish diving ducks with white on their sides and heads, and I know I have seen buffleheads here before.  I kind of feel bad for buffleheads.  I mean, that's a pretty humiliating name for a duck that never did anything wrong of which I am aware.  

Flowering tree/shrub update:  
First,  in the picture here, which is the hazel...  I know it's a bit blurry (see above; biting wind), but above the catkins, there's a bright red splotch.  In real life, this is several strands emerging from a bud.  Is this, perhaps, the female flower?  I love hazels, have one in my yard (though it's small and has not gotten nuts yet) and enjoy looking at them aroung school all the time.  And I have never noticed that before!  (I am ashamed to say).  Only a few individuals have this and they're new today -- so this will be something for me to watch for excitedly!  [Note:  approximately 30 seconds on the internet has confirmed that these are the female flowers, and that they're not getting much bigger.]

Second, the alders are continuting to swell (see photo).

Also, saw turkey vultures on Monday (Mar 16), but failed to note its phenological importance until I read about them in Huginn--Muninn.  I only remember because it was actually students who noticed and pointed it out to me (probably to get me to stop talking about maple flowers). 

Finally, I have joined the National Phenology Network as an observer.  I am not sure why this excites me so much -- maybe I feel important even though anyone could do this.  But I have signed up to monitor 5 plants (so far) at home or school and when I notice milestones (yes, they have to be actual milestones, not "the bud swelled another 1/2 millimeter today) I log in and check them off and submit the data.  I have logged in 2 milestones (columbines emerging from soil and columbines have full leaf visible).  Pretty cool, and fun for the whole family.   You should try it! 

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