Archivos de Diario para febrero 2022

viernes, 04 de febrero de 2022

Winter 2021-2022: Part 1

I've yet to use iNat as a place to keep a phenological journal, so I thought I'd begin today, 2/4/22. We've had two days of snow, the first real snow of the year of any consequence, reaching 12" in areas around St. Louis. I hear the sounds of much shoveling, but also a Blue Jay calling - otherwise the snow has brought much quiet. Snug inside, I'm listening through the walls and windows of my home. The sun is intensely reflecting off the snow and the temperatures are still below freezing, currently 29° F, with a low of 2° predicted for tonight.

It's been a warm winter overall, with many American Pipits, Wilson's Snipe and Least Sandpipers overwintering, but the biggest surprise this year has been the hundreds of Short-eared Owls throughout Missouri. They normally overwinter here and are the highlight for many of us as we wait for Spring, but the numbers are outrageous. Normally there might be 6 at most that are easily visible near sunset at B.K. Leach Conservation Area, for example, but this time, along with an increased number of 24+, we witnessed them hunting more during the day this year than ever before, resulting in numerous photographers descending upon them at B.K., as well as Clarence Cannon NWR. Further southwest in the state, they've been seeing hundreds flying over the prairies - these are unheard of numbers. One additional joy to hanging out with the Short-eareds this year was the surprise flyover of ten Sandhill Cranes in November of 2021, when the Short-eareds migrated into our area for this winter.

A rare Varied Thrush appeared this winter (December 17, 2021) in the St. Louis area and is still present at the home of Mr. Greer as I type. Other rare birds have made appearances, but as the Varied Thrush has long captivated me ever since I ran across one in a field guide years ago, I was particularly moved to make numerous pilgrimages to worship at his feet. (I wrote about this in another journal type/article I'll add here.)

As the winter took hold, we looked forward to finding flocks of Lapland Longspurs that eventually started coming through in bigger numbers the second week of January, along with a Snow Bunting hidden in the mix. Areas that we visited this winter so far have mostly been the B.K. Leach Conservation area (and various areas near B.K. along Hwy 79), but we made a special visit to see the large number of Black Vultures that seem to have taken up residence at Klondike Park in Augusta, Missouri. There were easily 60+ Black Vultures, as well as 100+ Turkey Vultures.

Other winter visitors have been abundant this year as well, like Merlins, Brown Creepers, and Dark-eyed Juncos, but Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers seems to be less common. Red-headed Woodpeckers, residents of Missouri, have all but disappeared. Another regular winter visitor, the Rough-legged Hawk, completely shocked us when we counted 8 at B.K. Leach one afternoon in January, both dark and light morphs, adult and juvenile - and they have stayed for days. Normally finding just one is lucky for us during the winter!

One special appearance of a Northern Shrike at B.K. was not a complete surprise, as usually one has been found there in past years during the winter, but this seemed a one day wonder, as we have not found him again since. Same with a Red-necked Grebe at Winfield Lock and Dam.

Common Redpolls started coming through in bigger numbers in January, too. One Redpoll made a big splash the second week of January in the heart of the city, appearing at feeders in the front of someone's home, making her easy for others to see on this crowded city street lined with small modest homes.

The wintering plethora of swans, geese and duck species has been a joy, as always, along with wintering gull species and sparrows and blackbirds. American Tree Sparrows are as numerous as ever, but the hundreds of White-crowned Sparrows that overwintered last year (and unusual phenomenon) have not re-appeared. Many are here, but just not in big numbers. Small flocks of Rusty Blackbirds are hither and yon, along with huge flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds mixed with Brown-headed Cowbirds. A local small flock of Great-tailed Grackles was found, too, in St. Charles County, after having disappeared from their usual locale.

The most alarming observation we made this winter were Woolly Bears still crossing the road the last week of December - and a Graham's Grayfish Snake! Now, I'm not sure if that is unusual or not, but it was for us.

I plan to share more of my writing here as the year progresses, some more polished pieces, some more journal-like. Two pieces that seem relevant to share here are my story of restoring my sense of wonder and a piece detailing our developing relationship with fellow naturalist, Kyran Leeker, a frequent iNaturalist contributor.

Publicado el viernes, 04 de febrero de 2022 a las 07:03 PM por wildreturn wildreturn | 22 observaciones | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario