Frogless New Year

New Years Day and slushy snow fell over night.  It’s in the high 30s and the birds are entertaining me, chowing down on seed I’ve spread about outside on a table and the ground.  Flocks of juncos, golden crowned sparrows, and mourning doves; a gang of Stellar jays, a pair of scrub jays, song and fox sparrows, spotted towhees; lots of wild, precise, dashing about, furious pecking, endless supplanting (they’ve eyes in the backs of their heads!), doves charging thuggishly about on their stubby little legs like robot vacuum cleaners, the jays eyeing them nervously.  Watching all the action, the amusing chaotic order, each species with a strategy to get enough to eat -- and they do! -- myriad layers of aggression but no one ever gets hurt; the circus has come to town and joy rises in me like a fountain.  The chipmunk arrives at the table, a wildcard, stuffing his cheeks.  One arriving bird after another glances at him uneasily and leaves; an egg thief for sure but would he attack?  I don’t know and birds don’t chance it; amazing how clear to see, the apprehension in their faces.

It now looks like the super moon (full and close to earth) November 14 likely instigated the small migration we had that night.  During the remainder of the month there were 12 wet/rainy days with evening temps above 45 degrees but no further movement, though the 14th, at 54 degrees F, was by far the warmest.  December has been colder and drier than November, with the dusk migration threshold of 45 degrees reached only 4 days, 47 another 2, but no frog movement.  An interesting exception occurred a week ago when Jane, awake at 4 am, decided to check Harborton and found frogs on the road.  She caught 8 over the next couple hours.  Of course traffic is very light at that hour, and so is a good time for migration, though hoping the frogs might change their schedule from dusk to very early morning is way too much to ask.  This week is supposed to be the coldest yet, so the frogs are probably snug up in the forest, buried in the duff under a fern, and we can expect a really BIG night when it’s pouring rain and the temperature approaches 50.

 

Western sword ferns, mid-December, in the Newton Creek watershed, where the frogs live.

Western sword ferns, mid-December, in the Newton Creek watershed, where the frogs live.