Memory November 15, 2022
Memory November 15, 2022
Winter is here in the Cariboo in full force. From T-shirts until after Thanksgiving to parkas, boots, toques and gloves after Halloween. After our long dry warm autumn, we really notice the difference in temperature. We have had highs in the past few days of only -14•c and lows to -19•c. This is unusually cold for us in early November. That is where the memory comes in. How often do we say “it’s always this cold or the lake always froze at this time, remember how much snow we had years ago.” Our memories are not that accurate. I keep a simple journal where I record the weather-high and low temperatures, humidity, sunshine, rainfall or snow and wind speed and direction. I also make note of the animals, birds and tracks that I see in the yard and neighbourhood. Highlights like freeze-up and open water are also noted. Migrating birds in spring and fall help keep track of seasonal changes. Small personal notes are included, perhaps a visit by friends, a special hike, a trip away or even a slow day-“read all day.” My current journal is in a book that at a glance I can check out the information for 10 years at a time. It is very easy to refresh and correct the memory of years gone by. Yes, this is the coldest November here since I started my journal in 2006. The cranes left early this year and I have not seen the swans for several days. One surprise is a group of 8 mallards that come to a neighbour’s feeder to feed on the grain scattered by a flock of red-winged blackbirds. I thought they would both be long gone. One male mallard was most amusing. He tucked up his legs behind him and nibbled at the grain. When he needed to move to a fresh spot, he pushed himself along on his tummy without raising himself off the ground. I think it is time to head south for the blackbirds and the mallards. The Mule deer are busy crisscrossing the yard, nibbling on whatever plants they can find. Three of the does this year had twins, so there is a lot of competition for the dwindling browse. 3 bucks are roaming the yard. Only one of them is mature enough to mate. We have our regular birds, Pileated Woodpecker (pair), Hairy Woodpecker (3 M. 1 F) Downy Woodpecker (pair), Flicker (2), Steller’s Jay (1), Canada Jay (2-3), Junco (2), Chickadee (1), Nuthatch (1). Usually, we have small flocks of Junco, Chickadee, and Nuthatch, but not this year. Also, we missed the flocks of robins and thrushes that usually visit us in the fall as they migrate south. They may all have adjusted their normal travel patterns due to there being more natural food or prolonged nice weather in their summering areas. Another thing that is missing is the squirrels, we have not had any coming to the feeder since early summer. Where have they all gone? For many years there are 3-4 in the yard, each with its own territory and chattering loudly if anyone intrudes on their space. That sometimes includes me as I hang up the washing!
Check out these links, they will help you tell the difference between a Hairy and a Downy woodpecker.
Pileated Woodpecker: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Pileated_Woodpecker/overview
Hairy Woodpecker: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Hairy_Woodpecker/id
Downy Woodpecker: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Downy_Woodpecker/id
Northern flicker: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Flicker/overview
Steller’s Jay: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Stellers_Jay/id
Dark-eyed Junco: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Dark-eyed_Junco/overview
Black-capped Chickadee: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Black-capped_Chickadee/overview
Red-breasted Nuthatch: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-breasted_Nuthatch/id