Natural History Notes

Monday, December 28, 2009

cats meet snow

Lets see if youtube embed codes work on Blogger.


To make the captions legible, click the full-screen button. Now I know that the font-sizes on iMovie refer to the movie as seen full-screen, and need to be doubled for youtube.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas eve "blizzard"

This is NOT normal Christmas Eve weather! The forecasters, up until almost when it happened, thought we might get a few flurries. It snowed from around 1 pm (after a gradual transition from cold rain) till about 10 pm, all the while with 30-mph winds, gusting to 40 mph, and the temperature gradually dropping from 35° to 25°. B-r-r-r-r!

Another view of those two plum trees. Visibility is actually fairly good here. I took these as I was leaving the Ridge about 3pm; by the time I got to Denton visibility was about a block.

I am eager for March, when I can see these "hung with snow" in the poetical sense, like Housman's cherries, rather than this all too literal version (not that any of it was hanging about, with that wind)!

I took some video of the birds, which I will try to get edited and on youtube. I had gotten the feeder hung from a wire between the living room eave and the shrubbery, out of reach of the coons. But I didn't allow for the effect of 40-mph gusts on the shrubbery; the nail holding the wire pulled out of the eave rafter. I rehung the feeder directly from the eave, just 18 inches from the windows. The birds didn't seem to care.

Here's a cardinal outside the kitchen window on the big rock, chowing down on sunflower seeds. Generally, I seem to have cardinals (at least six males seen simultaneously), chickadees, titmice, Harris sparrows, a fox sparrow, whitethroats (more heard than seen), and two towhees.

Christmas was lovely and sunny, up to nearly 40°, so it melted fast. This brushy area down by the lane that we hadn't gotten around to mowing was transformed on Christmas morning. By the afternoon it was back to just being brush.

This is a big plum tree (I think) in the field above the gate. The guys timed themselves clearing it -- it took about an hour to free the trunk. They simply cut the briers off and left the strands up in the canopy. Picture every gray line in the canopy continued down to the ground, and you will have a "before" picture. I think it's worth doing with all the trees in that field. There should still be plenty of briery thickets nearby to provide wildlife cover!

So that was our white Christmas -- the first I can remember here. All melted now except in the very shadiest spots.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

is it a haystack?

No, it's a plum tree! Eddie and Stephen did a thorough haircut, shave, manicure, and pedicure on the two Mexican Plums near the house, transforming them back into trees, mulching up a quantity of greenbrier.

Here Stephen takes the high road, pulling out briers with a cultivating fork for a rake.
Eddie takes the low with the DR mower, making it possible to actually walk under the tree. I understand that Stephen was precariously up a ladder at one time, so determined they became to eradicate the upper crown of briers. I missed that.

The plums were sort of pretty last March. They are going to be MUCH NICER this spring. And! I'm going to be able to pick the plums without groveling for the fallen ones among the brier stems.

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