Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Here Comes the Sun!

An amazing thing just happened. I was sitting at the computer, typing and editing photos, when the window lit up! After 10 days of clouds and rain, the sun FINALLY broke through the clouds. I can see blue skies all around! It's kind of amazing how instantly and drastically different that made me feel. Instead of moping at the computer in my sweater, holding a hot cup of tea to warm my fingers, I'm already itching to get outside again! It is such a relief to feel the sun, albeit through the windows. Light! Color! This week really has been dreary and miserable, which is hard to get my brain around because a mere 10 days ago, my husband and I drove an hour and a half up to the mountains to hike and see the fall leaves and the weather was perfect. The sky was the bluest blue and the leaves were spectacular yellows, reds and oranges. And then the next day, the rain set in.

Fall Colors from Blood Mountain, Georgia

People here insist that our weather has been unusual and that it is not normal to get 7 inches of rain in the first week of November. But what do I know? I'm just a recent transplant from the sunny south. It's all weird to me. Before the rain even happened, to help acquaint myself with my new environs, I had decided to keep an almanac of sorts so I could see for myself what should and should not be happening here. I thought November 1 would be a good day to start because I had missed August, September and October. And the end of Daylight Savings seemed like a convenient demarcation. As luck would have it, that's also when the rain started. It let up for brief periods, just long enough for me to rake up piles of leaves and acorns so we wouldn't slip and die when walking outside, or to take a group of school kids on a habitat hike at the nature center. But it rained so much during the week that several schools cancelled their field trips. It was just as well because most of the usual trails were underwater, anyway. The high water flooded the Beaver lodge at the Nature Center and the children and I were able to see several Beavers swimming with sticks in an effort to rebuild. Rivers all over town overflowed, water mains burst, basements flooded. I skipped my weekly nature hike with the Ramblers, a group that explores the Botanical Gardens every week. The dark cloud cover, fog and drizzle made photography next to impossible and the trails were slick and muddy. It was cold and wet. The fungi were delighted, but the birds hid in the bushes. Even my dogs just lay around in the house and napped. Yuck.

Two Nature Center Trail Signposts, Submerged

So here's my Athens Almanac report for the first part of November, observed mostly through the kitchen window. Rainy. Really rainy. Followed by sun today! 7.36 inches have fallen in November so far, with the month's average being 1.05 inches. Daytime temperatures have ranged from the high 70's to the low 50's, falling to mid 40's overnight. The butterflies and insects have been mostly absent due to the rain. They may appear again now that the sun is out, though most of the wildflowers have finished blooming and there will be little (for butterflies) to feed on. There are some Asters hanging on, and a few landscape plants such as Azaleas and Camelias are starting to bloom. This seems early to me, but there are early blooming varieties. All of the Camelias in our yard have big buds and a few have big flowers. The rainstorms caused many of the trees to drop leaves, but there is still color in the landscape, Poplars, Oaks, Maples, Ginkos and Dogwoods providing most of the brightest tones. It was a "mast" year for our Water Oaks and we have pounds upon pounds of acorns on the ground. I wish we had some hogs to feed them to! The birds I'm seeing at the feeders are mostly the usual crowd: Mourning Doves, Cardinals, Bluejays, Mockingbirds, Brown Thrashers, House Finches, Brown Headed Nuthatches, Chickadees, Titmice, Chipping Sparrows, Downy and Red Bellied Woodpeckers. The Towhees are not as active in the yard now as in summer, but I have heard them from the bushes. I have not seen a Catbird in the yard for some time now and the Hummingbirds have headed South. I have not seen a White Breasted Nuthatch for a few weeks. New charming additions with the onset of fall weather are the Dark Eyed Juncos and the White Throated Sparrows. I love hearing their "Sweet Canada, Canada, Canada" calls from bushes. I've also seen several Ruby Crowned Kinglets flitting in the bushes near the feeders. Around the neighborhood I'm still seeing Bluebirds, and we hear Barred Owls when we walk our dogs in the evenings. Flocks of Canada Geese fly overhead and land to feed on big lawns. I haven't seen many hawks in the past month, but there are plenty of Crows, Cowbirds and Grackles. I am hopeful that I may see a Hairy Woodpecker in the neighborhood one of these days. I saw my first at the Nature Center a few weeks ago and have been told that they are not uncommon in the tree canopy where I live.

Orbweaver Spider

One Last Aster

I took advantage of the rotten weather and put in much-needed work my photo website. As days of rain turned to a week or so, my cabin fever fueled my compulsion. I labeled entries in the Plant and Bird sections taxonomically to take advantage of the built in ordering on the website. Crazy, I know, but it makes it so much nicer to have like grouped with like. Not that I know that much about taxonomy, either. It took a lot of work to find the references (and they can still be wrong--let me know!) I poured over my favorite nature books and websites--Sibley, Butterflies through Binoculars, Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and their Neotropical Bird site, to name a few. I could see the order and structure taking effect and it made me a little giddy.  It gave me a little sense of control. The rain kept falling and I couldn't stand to go outside, but my website looks great! Check it out here. Nature Photography by Katherine Edison. And now that the skies have cleared, I will be out again observing, taking photos, and learning more about what to expect in Georgia. More Almanac reports to come.

One Benefit of Rain--Dewy Spiderwebs


  1. In our 30 years in Athens I don't think I ever remember such a long spell of cloudy, rainy days. Very depressing :( It was so good to see the sunshine yesterday - lets hope we have chance to dry out a bit! Hope you are doing well!

  2. Well I'm glad to hear that! I was beginning to despair. Today and yesterday were much better. Hot, even!