Nov 17 2008
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)