Natural History Notes

Sunday, January 07, 2007

another norther

We had a very pretty day today, mostly sunny and up into the mid-fifties. But a very strong north wind is now whipping the flexible little cherry laurel outside my window into a one-sided tree. Temp still reads 51°, but I think it's going to be heading down steeply real soon now.

I finally got the block of peanuts, raisins, and seed up in the wire holder over the front terrace early this week (Tom helped me by "carrying" the front of the ladder!) Little downy woodpecker just clings on one end and chows down for minutes at a time. He (or she, I haven't studied the back of its neck) doesn't like the sides of the holder because there is a perch section folded out that undoubtedy interferes with the tail.

Ruby-crowned kinglet is also frequently seen. Such a teensy bird to spend the winter.

Friday, January 05, 2007

water bugs

This morning the Master Naturalist crew headed out to Pecan Creek at Woodrow Lane to collect benthic macroinvertebrates. Marilyn and Cheryl were kick-netting in the riffle, and got a small haul of mayflies, I think, and Marilyn tried and tried to pick the water-fleas, with frustrating results.

Theresa Page was sweep-netting in the pool upstream of the bridge; Kay and I picked her haul -- well, I held the bottle and Kay picked; she was very neat with the forceps. We had a huge haul of mayflies, BIG dragonflies, some worms, and I don't know what else.

The damselflies are the generally slender ones with the three feathery gill "tails." The related dragonflies are much stouter, big fat fellows with predatory mouthparts.

We didn't ID what we got, because our new liason with the city Watershed Protection crew, Doug I think his name is, spent the hour and a half after we came in teaching us how to do the numbers with our results so as to produce an objective numerical quality score for the stream. We will meet next week to work on today's bugs.

The considerable rain -- yesterday? Wednesday? I forget -- made the access lane VERY muddy, and Kay and I stood up and held the tray to pick. No sitting or kneeling on the bank today!

Checking with the weather page, I see that it started to rain about 10 or 11 pm Wednesday night, and continued till around 7 Thursday morning. It was pretty bright around ten when I walked to Nunn's office, but very overcast when I left. Tomorrow it's supposed to be in the forties, and freeze a bit at night. The poor selloum has been in the basement now for days again; I have to get it up into the house into the light!

dawn and rainbows

Well, I had a very atmospheric morning Wednesday (3 Jan). We took off for the airport a few minutes after seven, when it was just getting light. Very hazy and partly cloudy; as we headed down Bartonville Road the sky was showing a good deal of yellow dawn and the clouds were getting decorative. Tom said, "Sunset!" Crispin explained that it was, instead, sunrise. It kept getting better and better, with strong variegated gold light, and brilliant gold glitter on the bottom edges of some of the clouds, until the red-orange sun came up as we approached Flower Mound.

Then about nine, as I came back from the airport, I realized that there was a partial rainbow in front of me. There was a large low cloud to the north, with partly cloudy, partly clear blue sky to the west. Right at the left edge of the big cloud, stretching from the ground up into the cloud, was the left leg of a rainbow. It persisted even when the cloud moved on further to the east; some of the rainbow was in front of clear blue sky. I had never seen that. I do not think it actually rained, but there was a lot of foggy haze in the air.

Some time later, as I came on north from Bartonville, I suddenly saw a bright spot up fairly high on the large cloud, which had moved on farther east across the northern part of the sky. This oval spot was red on the right, yellow in the center, and green on the left. Shortly it extended itself to form the right leg of the rainbow, showing in more and less bright sections, sort of a dotted-line effect. It lasted, slowly fading, until I was driving up Carroll Blvd, almost home.

I think it was the first bow I had seen since the one Amy and I saw two years ago -- northern outskirts of Birmingham, I think. I didn't have a way to take any pictures Wednesday, so maybe I'll go find my picture of that one to put in.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year! goodbye to warm 2006

Seems a good time to get back on track with this blog. Here is the dawn of 2007 out of the window by the computer.

I just was checking the weather (chilly 31° just now) and found this note from the National Weather Service. Apparently in spite of the fire-in-the-fireplace weather Christmas week, it's been the warmest year ever for North Texas. Also one of the driest, though Mother Nature tried her last-minute best to correct this a couple of days ago with about three inches of rain. Lille Tom was NOT happy. Fortunately a trip to the library the day before had netted him several videos, but still! He wanted Eureka Playground! And boy, by the end of the day we wanted it too.

Statement as of 4:00 am CST on January 1, 2007 [from NWS]

... 2006 warmest year on record for Dallas/Fort Worth...

The average temperature for 2006 bested the drought year of 1999 for the warmest on record in Dallas/Fort Worth. The average high temperature was also the warmest on record... nearly an entire degree above fellow drought year 1954.

Most of the years listed below were drought years with mild Winters.


Dallas/Fort Worth

Warmest mean temperatures warmest average high temperatures

1 69.3 2006* 1 80.4 2006*
2 68.6 1999 2 79.5 1954
3 68.3 1998 3 79.3 1999
4 68.2 1933 4 79.2 1956
5 68.1 1954 5 78.7 2005
68.1 1934 78.7 1952
7 67.9 2005 78.7 1934
67.9 1921 78.7 1933
9 67.8 1925 9 78.5 1980
10 67.7 1939 78.5 1939


For Waco... 2006 was the warmest year since the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s. The average high temperature for the year was the warmest on record.



Warmest mean temperatures warmest average high temperatures

1 70.8 1933 1 81.7 2006*
2 70.3 1925 2 81.2 1933
3 70.2 1921 3 80.9 1999
4 69.9 1934 80.9 1956
69.9 1927 5 80.8 1954
6 69.4 1922 80.8 1925
7 69.3 2006* 80.8 1904
8 69.1 1954 80.8 1902
9 69.0 1999 9 80.6 1921
69.0 1931 10 80.5 1990
69.0 1923