Biotime Log – January 2019

January 1, 2019

Happy New Year! A good day for a walk on a beach. Partly cloudy / partly sunny. Temps about 40, varying only about 5 degrees from morning to night; somewhat chilly with a light breeze.

We are noticing a slight difference in the daylight. At 4:30, it is still relatively light. Even at 5 pm, it is not completely dark. We enter winter, but we start to see the light.

In the morning: first robins I’ve seen in a long time. A Northern Flicker and Downy Woodpecker at the fat block. The usual crew of sparrows, chickadees, and finches at the feeder.

In the evening: the song of coyotes calling through the dark night. Haven’t heard them in months. A New Year’s gift.

January 19, 2019, Saturday

Weather: The wind last night roared in from the East, sometimes topping 54 mph! It is our 6th day this month in which winds have topped 40 mph! The seed was blown from the feeders, but the quail, sparrows, and friends were here bright and early to clean things up. The morning seemed so calm in comparison. Somehow these little birds (and very fat quail) managed to survive.

The afternoon is relatively mild and unseasonably warm, in the low 50s. I worry that plants may start to bloom early in response and then be set back by cold.

Bees: Lots of bees in the west hive are taking advantage of the day – and what makes me most happy – they are bringing home a pale-colored pollen! I am not sure where they are finding it. There are no dandelions yet (which would be more yellow); the mahonias are budding, but not broken open; nor are the red flowering currants. Hazel catkins were fully open on the middle tree but I did not see the bees on them (the others hazels had hanging catkins, but still tightly closed). The willow buds are only beginning to swell, and I must cut them soon. The willows are an important early food source, so I will not cut them all (as if I could). Two small rescued heather plants over by the fan palm are blooming pink and yellow, but I did not see bees on them. I can only figure they are finding the pollen in the trees – perhaps in the firs, cedars, or cottonwoods?

As for the east side beehive, I saw only a few bees. Interestingly, I thought this the stronger of the two hives, but perhaps it is not feeling as warm. It tends to stand in the longer shadows of the barn, which blocks more of the winter sun. The west hive, on the other hand, has so many dead beneath its doorstep, I worried that it might not make it. It is located close to tall evergreens trees (which perhaps provide some shelter from the wind, but might also drip more moisture) and is in an overall shadier location. However, at this time of year, the sun remains low in the sky and has a more direct shot at this hive than it does on the one by the barn. A little sunshine can make a world of difference.