Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A very strange year, as far as wildlife is concerned.

This fall I  heard only one skein of geese, and that was below tree level,  possibly my neighbor's freeloading geese going to visit their friends the other freeloading geese about five miles away.
No other migrations.

No ravens this year to speak of, and no migrations.

The tree swallows were sparse and disappeared in early august.

The crows are usually the rowdiest bunch (they remind me of my dad's family,  shouting and tossing rolls at one another at the dinner table) during migration,  probably wondering who hid the car keys and 'you're not taking THAT on the bus, are you INSANE" and all the checking to see if they left the water running and  trying  all the doors... none this year. Very few actual crows around at all except for the one that kept startling the daylights out of me on the porch when he yelled at me for trespassing....

No robin arrivals in the spring, which is usually heralded by a huge number of robins one morning in april,  all over the fields.  I dont think I saw a robin all summer. A friend who spends time in Florida said they had tons of them, more than he's ever seen.  And no spring peepers at all, which is what we all wait for every year.
There were, however,  a huge number of smaller birds, clouds of them, especially this fall, juncoes and sparrows and wrens.  And of course the turkeys. who, it seems, are always with us now.

No mosquitoes.

Once the early feeding frenzy was over, no ticks.  Lots and lots of yellow jackets and white tailed hornets, with ground nests and filling every crevice they could find in the wood pile (which may account for so many frogs in there, too)--in a dry year you learn to look before you lift.  Or better yet, jiggle it and move away.

We did have woodcocks return, and a whippoorwill in the distance.  Owls in the field and I think a mating/nesting pair of red shouldered hawks living  nearby.

Lack of rain was noticeable, that may have forced the  birds to wetter areas.  What was also noticeable was the total lack of interest the weather people had in mentioning a drought that ran from April to September, with almost no rain at all.  Even the trees were wilting.

More frogs than we normally see, sheltering under the wood piles, so I made a few little frog houses with pans of water, and rocks, and covering.  They seemed to appreciate the effort,  I had one filled and in place and the minute I moved away I heard splashing.  =)

And surprisingly we are now in the flight path of a great blue heron, something I ve  only seen once (and at a distance) before, in forty years. We're just too dry for them, so I suspect they are traveling from one swampy area to another.

A wet fall, all rain, no snow, right up until yesterday.  Maybe things will settle out next year.


  1. Interesting field notes, thank you. I think we got all your geese: just yesterday, the air was black with skein after skein shouting and v-ing and generally acting like they were at the Oscars.

    All the usual other birds around this year, too, and some late fledging, like August and September, of Carolina wrens and cardinals. The cardinals were learning to fly off my roof, onto the top branches of the cherry tree, parents anxiously checking them every two seconds.

    Since our water table is very high and we have a network of underground streams bursting out into creeks and marshes, we have plenty of the heron and egret clans, also various ducks. In spring there was a great pass through of mergansers, too. And a few weeks ago a flight of snowgeese high in the sky, just passing over, not stopping.

    The butterflies were sparse, though. Just a few tiger swallowtails, several monarchs and a couple of admirals. No buckeyes at all that I could see. Always interesting to wonder what causes these moves and changes. Our long severe winter might have driven butterflies more south, and done in the resident ones which don't migrate. Perhaps next spring will tell us.

  2. Also, plenty of mosquitoes, our state bird, and hardly any frogs nor toads at all. No immigrants into the house this fall.

  3. Always fascinating, the differences a bit of water and a weather pattern can bring. We had a chilly summer as well, but still the one heat wave we had brought out one monarch at a time, sometimes (and thank heavens) two, from somewhere out in the back fields.

    I can always tell when a new one emerges, their first official act is to fly straight up and/or down, sometimes colliding with leaves and people, in this glorious display of goofiness. And who wouldnt, after being cooped up as a caterpillar and a chrysalis for all that time...

    One thing that saved the larger wildlife, was the incredible apple harvest this year. Lotta moisture there, and they managed to clean up every scrap of apple and pear out there. I dont think the wasps ever got to see one.

    Our wetlands are across the road and far enough away that we get only the faintest glimmer of marshbirds, even on a good wet year. Having one shout at me directly overhead is both startling and joyous at the same time...

  4. The year according to wildlife. I don't think I'll ever look at crows the same. I once wrote a biography according to the couches I've had.

  5. lol. It is a bit like one of those flower clocks, isnt it. But, yeah, we are sort of in the thick of it all up here, and it's hard to miss the rowdy ones.

    And crows (if you ever want to take time to read about them) are one of the brighter birds, I understand that even if they don't count (one two three) they recognize "one went in, two came out and one of them had a gun" sort of thing.

    We also have a set of turkeys that seem to spend their entire waking lives gleaning our fields, the yard, the leaves by the porch, the wood piles...
    I do love the idea of a biography according to couches, gives a whole new image to the sectional sofa, doesnt.

  6. Harvey Hodson1/02/2016 11:01 PM

    The cabin will be available when the
    freezing stops, water lines all blown out with air right now.

  7. welcome back, Harvey. You were missed. Spring will be here before you know it. And much sooner for you than me =)

    We are already pretending to notice the extra five minutes or so extra daylight. Small steps, small steps...

  8. odd. our season wasn't as far off but there were frogs hopping around at xmas. a good deep settle of snow and we'll see if that resets the screwy. (Pearl, Humanyms)

  9. we've had snowless winters before, or at least low enough volume to call it snowless, but it was just a weird year all around.
    Just had our first "real" snow Tuesday, accidents all over the highways and a 2 hour drive took 5 hours. Harrowing, since a lot of drivers spent their time hydroplaning down the express lane...
    so it looks like we're back to what passes for normal.

    Nature does have a way of resetting itself eventually, although what the new normal might be, I have no idea.