Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Phenology for 5/24/11

Weather: Cloudy and bright, with bearable humidity and flashes of sun, from sunrise to a few minutes after I got into the computer center. Now another storm is interfering with Internet transmission. (These computers have incredibly annoying timers that force people to log in after each hour, and it's taken more than 35 minutes out of my first hour just to open this blog page.)

Birds: Lots of songs from the canopy of the orchard--predominant song motifs new to me this year. The Cat Sanctuary is located in an old orchard and is the home of many, many birds, including semi-tame cardinals, orioles who are bold enough to harass fruit pickers, wrens, sparrows, jays, towhees, thrushes, and unfortunately woodpeckers. No, the cats don't interfere with tree-nesting birds thriving and multiplying, and as bird species populations continue to recover from the DDT era we seem to get at least one brand-new species every year.

Insects: Having mentioned fungus gnats yesterday, I'll mention that you can't walk along the shady parts of the road below the Cat Sanctuary without constantly waving them away. They're what make it possible to breathe, and usually not even smell a strong moldy odor, in woods above a stream. Baby fungus gnats eat mildew, which would make the species useful and lovable if the adult fungus gnats could resist the urge to fly right into people's eyes and noses. They can't ignore a shallow layer of water (they're very small and fragile insects) with a hint of salt in it. So they're a major nuisance.

If we ever had two sunny days in a row any more, that would help the fungus gnat problem. From time to time I remember wistfully that my mother used to hang wet, I mean laundered, towels out in the sun, and by the end of the day they would be dry. Now if you hang a dry towel out in the sun--even when you can see sun--by the end of the day it'll be wet.