On Sunday morning, May 3, we’ll be hosting a birding field trip on the farm through the Columbia Audubon Society (CAS). All are welcome on CAS field trips, even if you are not a member of CAS (or a CSA); all that’s required is an interest in nature and birds and a willingness to join us in exploring the diverse habitats of our landscape. The CAS carpool will meet at the Patricia’s parking lot, 900 N Keene St, leaving at 7:30 so we can start birding the farm by 8:00 a.m. If you’d like to come birding, please contact us to reserve your spot.
We’ll spend as much of the morning as necessary to cover the woods, stream, fields, hollows, and other habitats in search of interesting birds. If time and interest allow, we may also visit nearby natural areas including Pinnacles Youth Park and/or Rocky Fork Conservation Area. No experience is necessary, just an interest in birds and a desire to enjoy the spring landscape. We have a couple of spare pairs of binoculars available if needed.
This is a great time of year for birding, as the leaves aren’t fully out, allowing easier observation in treetops. Migratory warblers and other birds are beginning to pass through; new arrivals in the past few weeks include Kentucky Warbler, White-eyed Vireo, Indigo Bunting, Scarlet Tanager (abundant this year!), Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, Eastern Towhee, and many more. Understand that this is a birding trip, not a farm tour per se, so the focus will be on wildlife and nature rather than agricultural interpretation.
If you’re interested in other such trips, the CAS website hosts the official listing for all upcoming trips, as do the monthly newsletters which Eric edits. In two weeks. we’ll be leading a similar trip to Goatsbeard Farm and Sullivan Farms, northwest of Columbia, and there are many more opportunities to get out and enjoy birding with other like-minded folks.
We were away for part of March, so the bird list has a few gaps in it, and there aren’t many photos to share. This provides us with an opportunity to ask readers for some feedback on our monthly natural events posts.
We started this series many years ago with several goals: to help us track observations and changes in our surroundings, to demonstrate that farming can happen in concert with environmental awareness, and to engage customers in the natural context of their food’s source. We hoped we would gain and retain customers who wanted to support farmers who paid attention to the natural world, and weren’t “just” farmers. Putting these posts together, though generally enjoyable, does take a fair amount of time and focus. It’s not clear to us how many customers or readers really value the result. We can keep track of birds, photos, and observations off-line, too, so if there isn’t a concrete value to the extra work of packaging these data onto the web, we’re questioning how or whether to keep doing it. So we’re interested in hearing any feedback on the content, format, or value of these posts to anyone who’s reading. Comments or emails are fine. In the meantime, read on for March 2015. Continue reading
Cold and annoying, we won’t miss February, although we have little to complain about compared to certain other parts of the US. Daily walks turned up a few interesting phenomena, including the bird wing print and mantis egg case shown below.
January went past quietly, drier than usual and so stable that we really didn’t notice the weather all that much. Trumpeter Swans continued to pass overhead regularly, an unusual and enjoyable pattern this winter. Continue reading
December turned warmer than average, though it was so cloudy you’d be forgiven for thinking it was cold. This grey stability really shows up in the NWS monthly graph, which looks rather bizarre for here. We also had very little snow, but as the Kansas City NWS office pointed out, this says nothing about the rest of the winter:
November was cool & dry, with temperatures around 6 degrees below average and precipitation low as well. We did spend a fair amount of time outdoors, including a successful deer hunting season, meaning lots of interesting photos and experiences.
Our landscape is overpopulated with deer, and we are soliciting help with reducing the herd further. Eric has already shot his limit of two for the season, but there are at least 5-6 more using our valley as documented by remote trail cameras and personal observation. Rifle season ends on December 7 while bow season extends until January 15, meaning far more opportunity for a bow-hunter to help cull the herd. We have never had time or resources to take up bow-hunting ourselves, though it is a long-term desire. If you are, or know of, a responsible bow-hunter who would like to use our 40 acres of mixed pasture and woodland to take more deer, please contact us. We have one good tree stand in a location near multiple trails that has already bagged two deer, and multiple other possible locations including 5 active scrapes being used by at least 3 different bucks. The trail-camera photos above were taken at two of these locations on 11/15/14.
Eric shot a deer on Sunday, making a slight dent in the all-too-large local population, and as we were butchering, I came across some unusual clumps in the stomach. After a couple of emails back and forth with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), we have a hypothesis regarding what these might be that fits with other natural observations this year. We thought we’d share parts of this exchange, as we’re interested in hearing other observations or alternate hypotheses.
First, the question I submitted via the MDC contact form:
Once we got the early heavy rain over with, October was a wonderfully pleasant month. Generally stable weather & temperatures meant we could enjoy working outdoors. Temperatures finally crashed right at the end of the month, fitting a trend we’ve discussed before: that the October/November transition is when the first true cold weather always seems to arrive. This October, like others before it, felt like a final gift of Indian summer and we were glad to have it.
This September was reminiscent of last year’s, with pleasant & mostly dry weather. We received a scare with the threat of a very early hard frost in mid-September, but some rain the day before and some un-forecast cloud cover the second night buffered us just enough to allow sensitive plants to keep producing through the month. All in all, an unremarkable but enjoyable month in our ecosystem.