Crocus2016The poor little crocuses in my neighborhood may be starting to feel they have a stalker….me. Around mid-January, or whenever we have a nice warm spell early in the year, I start frequently visiting and closely observing the two sites where I usually see the first crocuses in bloom. Then I record the date! Not a terribly scientific process or record, it is fun.

This year I think I truly caught them on their first day or two since I visited four days earlier and there was no sign of them at all – not even leaves! From the photo, you can see it was early in the day before the sun had encouraged them to fully open.

 

So this year, it’s…..

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Housefinch

The house finches don’t seem to want to be too predictable with their first mating song (that I hear, anyway). A few years, they’ve been early enough that I started to wonder if the “first” song of the year/season would start happening in late December of the previous year. But nothing like that happened this year!

It all seems to come down to weather. If we have big stretches of warm, sunny weather in late December and early January, I hear the song earlier. More traditional winter weather, and it is later. And I make a point of getting out often, so it doesn’t just come down to my not being outside as often in “real” winter weather. 

So this year, the winning date for first full house finch song is

Jan 28! (The latest date since I started keeping records!)

Here are my results from past years:

2015: Jan 23

2014: Jan 2

2013: Jan 17

2012: Jan 3

2011: Jan 3

2010: Jan 19

2009: Jan 12

2008: Jan 8

2007: Jan 15

2006: Jan 15

2005: Jan 23

Puccoon 2

This year’s “Wildflower Walk in Monument Valley Park” (sponsored by the Friends of Monument Valley Park) is coming soon!

I lead this walk every year (plus a tree walk in September). Recent heavy rains should make this one extra interesting. The walk is free and open to the public.

Join us and learn a little about the plants in the park!

Date: June 6, 2015
Time: 10:00 a.m. – noon
Where: Meet at the West Fontanero Street parking lot
(travel west on Fontanero St from Cascade Ave until it ends at the parking lot)

Dougfir1

Douglas Fir in happier times in MVP

 

A few year ago I wrote a post about the trees we were losing to drought in Monument Valley Park in Colorado  Springs (see “What Severe Drought is Looking Like in Monument Valley Park”).  The drought and its effects have been harsh enough for us to even lose some of the super drought tolerant ponderosa pines that have lived in the park for years. We’ve had a bit more moisture the past year (including this past winter – yay!), but we are going to see the effects of the drought for many more years – especially on our older, established trees.

One tree species particularly hard hit has been the beautiful Douglas firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii). I started noticing they weren’t producing many cones a few years back, and then I started to notice browning of needles on branch tips, then whole branches started to die, and finally, entire trees were dead.

This continues, and recently the city seems to have found some funding to cut some of the dead trees down.

Dougfir3

Group of Dead Douglas Firs Being Cut Down (check out that sky!)

 

The Douglas fir is native to the foothills in the Pikes Peak region and is classified as a low-to-moderate water user. Sadly, I predict within a few years, we won’t have any more of them living in the park.

Sewingroom1

Every year, I get motivated after the holidays to get my sewing room back into some sort of order so I can enjoy tackling new sewing projects. Things get a little hectic in there in late fall and early winter as I work on items for my Etsy shop (mainly the popular fleece Doctor Who scarves). Piles of fabric and other stuff form and grow….and grow. I’ve also recently moved from mostly quilting to sewing garments. This means different types of fabric and notions looking for homes in my sewing room – more piles. And several of the piles came to roost on an electronic keyboard and bench that was trying to make its home along one wall of the room. (In the photo, I’ve already done some initial straightening up – those piles of fabric are very neatly folded!)

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Crocus4

I’m amazed it has taken me a little while to post the first crocus bloom info this year (because I always get so excited when I see them!). I was pleased it was back to being a bit earlier than it was last year (Feb 25 – sheesh!). And as I explain each year,  the “first bloom” site has moved back and forth between two locations recently (ruining any scientific merit for using my observations for anything beyond fun). For many years, it was always a few blocks near my house in what we’ll call Location #1. Then a few years ago, my husband discovered Location #2, several blocks further away. This year, for the first time, I saw the first blooming crocuses in BOTH locations on the same day! And…I suspect they may have actually started a few days before, but I can only report the date I saw them.

 

So this year, it’s…..

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housefinch.jpg

 

Wow – I was starting to worry the house finches were taking this year off from mating season! Every year, I ponder what the factors affect how early I hear them start singing their mating song. I know day length has to be part of it, but other factors must come into play as well. 

Over the past many years, they’ve been getting earlier, especially during years when early January is quite warm and sunny. This year, we’ve had some long GRAY stretches, along with occasionally  very VERY cold temperatures. I don’t know if these are actual factors, or if they just affected how often I was outside to be listening.

So this year is the first one I can remember in which I had to start actively listening for them (most years, they surprise me while I’m out on a walk or run – “Oh right! The first house finch song!”) But this year, there were several instances when I stood out on the deck listening hard, or stopped between the car and the house on a sunny day, just SURE I’d hear one of them singing. Occasionally, I’d hear a house finch to a note or two, kind of like he was warming up, but then….nothing. Finally, on a morning jog, one of them surprised me just as I was about to enter Monument Valley Park. He sang one full song, and that was it. Glad I caught it! Three days later, in the same spot, more than one was singing and they were doing multiple verses.

So this year, the winning date for first full house finch song is

Jan 23! (It was ten years ago that I heard one this late!)

Here are my results from the past several years:

2014: Jan 2

2013: Jan 17

2012: Jan 3

2011: Jan 3

2010: Jan 19

2009: Jan 12

2008: Jan 8

2007: Jan 15

2006: Jan 15

2005: Jan 23

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