||Observation (Click on links for photos)
||Only a trace of snow today.
The total snowfall for February 2002 was 8.5 inches.
A large mass of cold
northern air has moved deep into the continental U.S., bringing
a period of slightly below seasonal temperatures to Wisconsin. Green
Bay has received only about 0.07 inches of snow in the last week,
so the snow cover is minimal with mostly bare ground in the open.
WI DNR reports good skiing and snowmobiling in extreme
northern WI (except in the northeast) following heavy snowfall
last week and weekend. Douglas and Bayfield counties report
20 and 18 inches of snow on the ground, respectively with lesser
amounts ranging to the east. Most of the rest of the state still
has little snow with 0-3 inches south of a line from southern Oconto
County to Polk County, and winter sports have been difficult at
best. Still more reports of snowmobilers, and ice shanties falling
through thin ice in southern WI.
Many reports of returning Canada Geese and many
other birds. WI DNR reports that this is the normal season for black
bear cubs to be born, and that skunks are very active
and in their breeding season now.
over the weekend continued the melting of snow and ice in the Green
Bay Area. The high temperatures have been at or above 32 F for the
last 7 days. A winter storm passed to our north last night, missing
Green Bay but delivering up to 5+ inches of snow to some areas in
the north after midnight. The snow is gone over about 80% of the
open areas on UWGB, although still present where it was drifted
or plowed into banks, and in shaded sites. Cold air will arrive
from the northwest cooling us down into the single digits by Tuesday
Ice is dark and soft with a little open water
at the Baird Street bridge on the East River in Green Bay . The
same is true of UWGB's Prairie Pond where there is a little
open water at the east end and the ice is too soft and thin to hold
A flock of about 150 Starlings, Red-winged Blackbirds,
Grackles and Brown-headed Cowbirds (about 75% are Starlings)
at my backyard feeders this morning in Allouez--the first sizeable
flocks of these returning migrants that I have seen there.
||A mild day across
Wisconsin during daylight hours with highs in the north near the freezing
point, high of 41 F at Green Bay and a record for the date of 61 F
at Madison. A winter storm is predicted for tonight in the north.
||Sandhill Cranes and
Killdeer, Dane County; Greater White-fronted Geese,
Columbia County; Northern Cardinal - multiple males singing
in Rhinelander (Andy Paulios)
Reports of pairs of Canada
Geese scouting out the west shore of Green Bay (Tom Erdman).
Another report of a Turkey Vulture in Wisconsin
||Precipitation began as rain
yesterday afternoon and gradually changed to sleet and then wet snow.
Green Bay received 2.1 inches of snow yesterday and perhaps
a little more after midnight. The
wet snow accumulated on trees and shrubs in the area, including
these Staghorn Sumacs.
||Some partially or completely
ice-free small lakes in Janesville area (Andy Paulios).
The high temperature
in Green Bay has been at or above 32 F for 13 of the last 14 days.
The warm temperatures plus rain yesterday and today have melted
most of our snow. The forecast predicts some snow (up to
2-3 inches) for tomorrow.
A report of 7 Sandhill Cranes in Marquette
Co, yesterday (wisbirdnet).
||Red-winged Blackbirds on
territory and migrating through Madison; Robin singing two days in
a row in backyard on phone wire (Andy Paulios).
||Foxes and Coyotes
breeding in northern WI; Barred Owls calling (WI DNR). Lack
of snow is the primary reason that snowmobiling is reported as generally
poor over most of WI. Marinette County says there is not enough snow
to snowmobile, except on lakes, many of which are covered by slush,
however. Peninsula Park in Door County reports its sledding hill is
closed. Ice on many souther WI lakes is unsafe, and Lake Mendota in
Dane County has apparently not frozen over completely all winter.
Cross country skiing trails are generally in poor condition due to
heavy use and no new snow. Many downhill ski areas have been making
snow and report good to excellent conditions.
I'm not predicting
that spring is here, but here are a few more bird observations that
give us cause to hope. A Turkey Vulture was observed in Door
County last weekend (Pete Wolter). Two male RWBB defending territories
in a marsh in Waukesha Co.(wisbirdnet, 2/12). A flock of 200-300
starlings with a few Red-winged Blackbirds and Cowbirds mixed
in, in northern Illinois (wisbirdnet, 2/12). WI DNR reports some
tom turkeys have begun to "strut".
A snow cover map of WI for yesterday shows most
of the state with 4 inches or less and much of southern WI with
1-2 inches (with up to 4-5 inches in an area from Dane to Fond du
lac and north to Winnebago). The southern tier of counties and north
along Lake Michigan to Milwaukee had 0 snow cover.
||There have been several reports
of bird behavior in southern Wisconsin in the last few days that suggest
the early stages of spring: Tree Sparrows singing and "dueling"
in the air, Pine Siskins and Cardinals singing, Janesville
and Madison, (Andy Paulios); Mourning Dove doing its courtship
dive, Janesville; Sandhill Cranes calling, Racine County; (wisbirdnet).
||The 4-6 inch snowstorm predicted
for last night and this morning, delivered only 1.0 inch of snow in
Green Bay. The high temperature reached 34 F. In spite of the "storm",
the high temperatures have been above freezing for the last 5 days.
||A Killdeer reported
in Madison (wisbirdnet). Perhaps a bit optimistic on the bird's part,
but I can't help but think of spring. The snow has receded dramatically,
exposing open ground in places, but a storm is predicted for tonight.
After 2 days of sunny,
warm weather (high temperature of 42 F yesterday) the snow cover
has significantly decreased. The National Weather Service in Green
Bay reported a snow depth of 8 inches on Feb 1 and only 5 inches
Numerous Horned Larks noted in Winnebago
County (wisbirdnet). They are notoriously early to return in spring--overwintering
not far to the south.
Red Foxes reported very active near Green
Bay in recent days. This is approximately their breeding season.
Check the following
link for a good example of "lake
effect" snow storms in the Great Lakes area. This is
of interest to us for a number of reasons. People "down wind"
of the lakes tend to get more snow because the air gathers moisture
from the lakes as it passes over and then drops it on the far side.
That is why people on the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan and Buffalo,
New York, for example, get such high snowfall amounts. It is also
relevant to our Great Lakes water levels. Some of the water rising
from the lakes can fall again as snow within the drainage basin.
This lake effect snow may give the impression that we can expect
increased water levels in the lakes, but it does not really constitute
an input for the lakes, rather it is essentially recycling of water
within the system.
There are reports of
Ravens calling and preparing nests in Door County.
Reports of large flocks of Blackbirds as
far north as central Illinois (wisbirdnet). They typically move
northward with the retreating snow cover.
There have been several
reports of singing Cardinals in the last week or so. If not
a clear phenological event, it is at least a sign of hope that spring
is not too far off. On average, the winter snow cover is largely
gone in the Green Bay area by the end of the first week in March,
only 3-4 weeks away. That is the time that we get the first big
influx of returning migrant birds, such as Red-winged Blackbirds,
etc. Of course we often get more snowfall after that time, but it
is generally of short duration.
Up to about 10 inches of snow fell last week in
Wisconsin, but that has settled considerably and there was little
to no "base" beneath it. Winter sports have been greatly
enhanced, but the snow is quickly compacted to an inch or two under
heavy use and warm midday temperatures yesterday and today are contributing
to a decreasing snowcover. Snowmobile trails in particular have
been reported in poor condition if they were heavily used last weekend.
In spite of some cold weather, lake ice cannot be
assumed to be safe, especially in southern WI. WI DNR reports open
water on Lake Mendota in Madison and 4 snowmobilers were reported
to have fallen through the ice on Lake Wisconsin in Columbia County
and several more on Shawano Lake. Green Bay remains largely open
||The Double-crested Cormorant
was still present at the mouth of the Fox River today (from Wisbirdnet).
It has apparently been here all winter.
|The biggest snowstorm so
far this winter dumped about 8
inches of snow on Green Bay, beginning yesterday and
continuing all night. By morning the skies were clear.