Bird list & natural events, December 2014

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:

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Bow-hunter wanted


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.

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Bizarre, bezoar? Hypothesis on deer stomachs & persimmons

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:

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Bird list & natural events, October 2014

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.

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Bird list & natural events, September 2014

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.

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Bird list & natural events, July 2014

July was extraordinarily cool, especially as compared to the blast furnace of 2012. As pleasant as the working conditions were, it was also quite dry (less than 1/3 average rainfall) and we’re quickly re-entering the drought conditions that so worried us earlier in the year. You can clearly see this in the annual precip graph for Columbia, maintained by NWS, which shows how we’ve flirted with drought all year (other than one dousing in early April) and are now something like 4″ under average since the rain shut off in early July. We can see the vegetation transitioning to that yellow-tinged hue of dry summers, and the ground is rock-hard with cracks showing through. Still, a lot of neat things were happening in our ecosystem, as this month’s photos document. Continue reading