Thursday, April 14, 2016


The insulated winter boots have been put away, time to break in the xtratufs. Ephemeral ponds have formed across Creamer's Field, a temporary wetland caused from snowmelt in town, perfect for introducing Noosa to the liquid state of H2O. She's still a bit apprehensive about getting her paws wet, but her dad's are ocean people, so she better get used to it. She's also learning that peeing in grass works too. No need to frantically search for lingering snow patches.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Final Show

A daily six minute gain in sunlight means night time here in the far north is rapidly sinking southward as the months progress into summer. With the departure of darkness comes the fading of the northern lights. Yes, auroras happen all year-round, but they of course are not visible when the sun is out. Last night, I stayed up past civil twilight to wish the aurora a fond farewell. Earth has just received a glancing blow by a coronal mass ejection (CME) from an unstable region of the Sun, igniting what was likely the final solar storm of the 2015-16 auroral season for the Northern Hemisphere. The northern lights will soon be overwhelmed by the midnight sun, until darkness once again returns in August. Now it's the Southern Hemisphere's turn to experience the green lights.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Strange Year

Although temperatures reach into the 50's on some days now, nightly lows below freezing means the snow continues to fall. This melt re-freezing pattern should persist for another few weeks, until eventually muddy pools of standing water will become the new normal. One thing that hasn't been normal this spring is the bird sightings. Last year, we would see swarms of redpolls invading the birch canopy or our yard, along with many chickadees. This year, I've seen maybe a dozen redpolls. Sadly, the owl box has so far also been a disappointment. We've seen signs of sporadic occupancy over the past month, but with no male calling during the nights and no female taking up residence yet, I'm afraid this season might be a bust for the boreal owls. Perhaps the pair that bred in our box last year found a more natural home this season, potentially carved out by the hairy woodpecker pictured above. The laying window for boreal owls is still open, but will soon close by early May. Time will tell.