Friday, February 29, 2008

A list of recently spotted wildlife, as I haven't done one in a while:

  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Blue Jay
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Goldfinch
  • Grey Squirrel
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Nuthatch
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Purple Finch
  • Virginia Opossum
1 and 1/8" of snow overnight. According to the U of M Climatology Website, the mean snow/ice precipitation for the month of March in our region is 8.4", while we're sitting at around 6.5"-7" according to my rough estimates.

Plans for this year's pond rennovations/additions/demolitions are already bubbling in my mind; wanted to get an air compresser and a few container plants for the feeder pond, put a small fountain in the Western basin, and rip out the first waterfall we did and replace it with a deeper iteration that holds more (and as such wastes less) water.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A tropical heatwave spread over middle Minnesota this weekend, blanketing us in highs in the upper 20's and lower 30's (currently 34 in the cities). Of course, this warm, windless air over a blanket of snow meant a thick, pervasive fog Sunday that persisted from morning til night in some regions, particularly around Little Rock and Foley. Made for some beautiful hoarfrost as the moisture-laden air froze on trees overnight.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Everyone likes peanuts. Especially in the winter, when they can be a valuable source of fat and protein. Above is a shot below our peanut feeder, where we found the tracks of Squirrels, Blue Jays, various small birds, mice, dig marks of Raccoons and the star-like track of the Possum.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

As I write, the lunar eclipse is currently about 3/4. Have to lean out the open window (and it's currently -6 F) to see, as it's on the Eastern and windowless edge.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ice fishing events in Forest Lake this Saturday. There's been a lot of talk lately about dwindling interest in outdoor activities, and dwindling interest in conservation as a direct result.

I've always been of two minds regarding the ecological benefit of outdoor sporting activities such as fishing, hunting, snowmobiling etc. On one hand, while there are many sportsmen (and women) who play both fairly and responsibly, there are those who see nature as an extension of their video game console. There are the hunters who sit in heated stands and use salt licks to draw their prey to point blank range; well within the range of their high-powered rifle; hunters who'll use the deer as a conversation piece on their living room -- who have no need for the meat. There are the snowmobilers who show no respect for trails or private property and think nothing of obliterating native growth (there are also the hikers and campers who don't think much of leaving a mess in their wake).

Even when sporting is done within legal and ethical bounds, something is still being taken away from a natural order that's already been marginalized; be it wildlife for the hunters or fishers, or swaths of trees and growth for snowmobile trails. On the other hand, sportsmen are one of the largest groups with an active stake in preserving open spaces and wildlife habitat; trumping naturalists, hikers, campers, bird-watchers and other "greener" hobbyists by far, and if all the hunters, fishermen, and snowmobilers were to stay inside watching television, there would be that much less interest (and as such revenue going into) conservation.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The 5-6" of now promised for last night petered to 2.5" this Valentine's Day morning. While it's been hovering in the teens for the past few days, they're predicting a cold streak, topping off at around -17 Friday before shifting up into the 20's this weekend, with more snow on the way. Not a lot in the way of wildlife out there at the moment; a few chickadees and Goldfinch picking at the thistle or peanut feeder when the sun comes out.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A few photos from Saturday's drive; both taken in the flat farm country between Cambridge and Foley, MN. Though we only got about half an inch, the wind was blowing so hard from the Northeast that it could go from clear and sunny where a stand of trees sheltered the road to near white-out conditions where the road crossed a farmer's field not twenty yards away.

Temperatures dipped from the positive to the negative teens as the front moved through.

Friday, February 08, 2008

cat in snowstorm

Periods of heavy snow in the morning and a light, almost fog-like snow setting in around late-afternoon, leaving a combined total of about half an inch.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Snow on the ground this morning was 2". So far we're under by about 14", but there's talk of a shift in the jetstream that may bring us more storms.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Heard the Chickadee's spring call for the first time this morning. Ironic as we were just hit with around 3" of snow. Won't know the exact amount until I get home this evening.