Friday, April 24, 2009

Summer birds are here, we just need ice to melt

Signs of warm weather are everywhere but summer itself seems to be coming at glacial speed.

Every day brings a new species of birds from down south.

A few robins have actually been here for a couple of weeks. The first robin is always a bittersweet sight. It's a sign of spring but robins always get snowed on several times.

There are flocks of robins here now but also a lot of other summer birds as well. A wave of yellow-shafted flickers landed today. I've also seen and heard song sparrows, ruby-crowned kinglets, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, sandpipers, red-winged blackbirds, killdeer, all species of ducks and geese, eagles and even a great blue heron.

The water birds are crowding around wet spots in fields, ditches, creeks and rivers. The lakes are all still frozen tight.

The lakes are melting both from the top and the bottom. Daytime temperatures are only about 10 C (50F) with some days colder and most nights below freezing. About once a week we get rain which turns to snow but luckily there has been no significant accumulation for more than a week.

People who are still drilling holes through the ice report the ice structure is changing. It's starting to "candle" which is what it does before it breaks apart. That's the good news. The bad news is there is still 20+ inches of it out there. Still the days are long now and the melting process is accelerating.
Barring a tropical heat wave, it still looks like ice-out on Red Lake will be approximately May 16 or a week later than normal.
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