Nov 17 2008

What To Look For: Through Mid-December

Published by at 9:20 pm under Phenology

Snow Bunting (photo by Chuck Tague)Nature is slowing down as winter settles in.

In every other season, nature changes so rapidly that two weeks of “what to look for” is a very long list.  But now a month of sightings will do, so Chuck Tague describes late November through early December in his latest phenology for western Pennsylvania.

Here’s a peek at Chuck’s list, plus a few suggestions of my own.

  • We’ve entered the time of frost, snow, ice and rime.  I remember rime last year at the Allegheny Front Hawk Watch.
  • Waterfowl are still on the move.  As lakes freeze up north more birds come our way:  tundra swans, loons, scaup, ring-necks, buffleheads, mergansers, goldeneye and ruddy ducks.
  • Gulls will come to the rivers.
  • Northern shrikes will show up at rural thickets.
  • Check manured fields for horned larks, lapland longspurs and snow buntings (pictured here).  They all look dull in winter to match the ground.
  • Be prepared for irruptive migrants.  In November 2000 a snowy owl showed up at Duquesne University, a life bird for me!
  • Today in Pittsburgh, there will be 9 hours and 45 minutes of daylight.  A month from now – nearly the solstice – we’ll have only 9 hours and 16 minutes.  The half hour we lose will be subtracted from the morning.

(photo of a Snow Bunting by Chuck Tague)

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