New Year’s Eve backyard bird count..

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Just because I’ve been thinking more about my Square Foot Garden doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about my backyard bird buddies. No, sir. They just haven’t been around as much. But, activity has picked up a little with the approaching weather the past couple of days. But, you want to talk about warm? Holy cow have the past two days been warm. Look at the temp in THIS count. Remember, normal for Dec 31 in STL is 38F for the high.

845am…68F!!…cloudy/windy (more on that at the bottom)…no new sightings.

I saw all the usual suspects this morning, but I have to admit what got me to open the shade was the Carolina Wren singing his spring time song. Usually, we hear him chatter as he pokes around. But, today, oh no, he was looking for some satisfaction somewhere. Yes, I mean THAT kind of satisfaction! It was no doubt his mating call/song. He, too, is confused as hell by this warm up in weather. But, I also saw 2 Blue Jays simultaneously for the first time taking the last of the peanuts. Several Cardinals were about. Lately, they have backed off the territorial squabbling and played nicely. Not today! Another temporary weather confusion. They were vigorously defending their territories. The finches came back. There were a mix of House Finches and Purples…with a Goldie or two stashed away in the flock. The Eurasians were also back, but not in the numbers I have been seeing. Instead, I saw about four. Only about 3 Juncos, too. And, the usual Mourning Doves and a Downy. However, no Chickadees, Titmice, Red-bellieds, Nuthatches, or Grackles and Starlings. Not that they won’t be around today….just not while I was watching.

As for the weather, it has been freaky warm. I woke up yesterday to find the temp at 53F. When I went to bed two nights ago, the temp was 36F. It rose 17F overnight! The temps held steady through the day and topped out at about 61F. Then, rose overnight again! It was 68 this morning at almost 9am. Think about that for a minute. It’s hardly the usual….especially when the normal high is in the upper 30’s. And, believe it or not, it isn’t record warmth yet. We have to crack 74 today to hit the record. But, mind you, it should be mentioned we haven’t had any sunshine, either. So, it is record warmth type air. How does that get here w/o sunshine, you ask?

Well, the air rides the wind up from the Gulf of Mexico some several hundred miles. The only way you get temps that just about double your normal highs at this time of year, especially without sunshine, is to get strong winds. Nothing like other parts of the world, but STL isn’t a very windy place. (I grew up in Kansas and 20mph winds were “a calm day.” Here in STL, 15mph gusts have people talking about it being “so breezy today.” So, it’s all relative.) But, we have been seeing 20-25mph steady winds for 48 hours straight out of the south. That will bring gulf moisture and warmth up here every time. And, as a result, you can get ready for some storms, too. When that juicy, warm air mixes with a cold punch from Canada (we are expecting tonight’s midnight temperature to be the warmest thermometer reading for the next 36 hrs because temps will free fall again), you get violent mixing of airmasses……leading to pretty good thunderstorms. The best way to visualize this is to pour a couple of cups of water into a pot on the stove. Then, turn on the heat. After about a minute or two, pour in a couple teaspoons of milk, slowly, and watch the violent temperature currents mix the milk with the water. But, pay close attention to the leading edges of the milk. That turbulence is not only caused by the density of the water/milk, but you will also see the affects of the temperature when you drop cold milk into unevenly heated water. You will see swirls representative of thermals and cyclonic and anticyclonic twists as the two mix together. That is what your air above you is doing in thunderstorms. You can quickly relate to how violent it is upstairs just by watching this once on your stove. Now, put it to scale and realize the lightning and almost nuclear power equivalents the atmosphere has and you should have a new found respect for Mother Nature. She doesn’t mess around when she gets a little angry.

There’s your weather lesson for today, too. Can you tell what I studied in school now? I’ll leave you with a slideshow from the past 3 days.

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