Transition From Autumn to Winter

| December 4, 2020

Waiting for winter to pass….

This isn’t another rant about uncontrolled fires in the West and the people who think nothing should be done to make the human-occupied areas safe for habitation, but complain about those fires.  It’s just a follow-up to the article about raging forest fires that I posted last week.

The attached photo is something I shot after a controlled burn in a local wilderness area, which is mostly open prairie where the wildflowers grow from Spring into Fall, providing cover for local reptiles, ground birds like quail and pheasant, and food for a lot of insect species in this area.

This keeps the weeds down, and by “weeds”, I mean invasive species like purple loosestrife and Scotch thistle and teasel, which drive out the native species like blazing start (5 varieties locally) and milkweed (4 varieties locally). Over the winter, the ash from these fires goes into the ground as fertilizer for the soil, and in some cases, cues the seeds to open in the Spring and start pushing up into the air.

It gives the local Fire Departments practice in controlling a burn like this, so that it does not get out of hand and endanger local housing. Camping overnight in this part of this state park is not allowed, but people have done it, even so, and started fires that they couldn’t put out.  They also got arrested for those two things: camping in a restricted area and starting a fire.

In this case, at this time of year, all the ground-dwelling species like snakes have started their hibernation since the days first got cold, and the likelihood of running into a rattler or a frog is zero.  The possibility of snowy owls showing up here is high this time, if the past five years of snowies (AKA arctic owls) showing up due to lack of food up north repeats itself.

There’s a popular 50-acre fishing lake in this particular park, where the free food people fished it out so badly this past summer that the trout and crappies and bluegills had to be restocked.  Well, when you’re short of cash, and getting desperate, free trout is good.

I’ve been seeing more of these controlled burns around here this fall, including one on Wednesday to the west of me, which means that DNR is on the job, doing what they get paid to do and the fire departments along with them. For those practice sessions, and knowing that they are doing what should be done, I am one grateful person.

It’s also a strong reminder that not all state governors are loons who want the “glam” of office and the paycheck, but don’t really give a crap about anything else.  Ours may not be perfect, but this governor of ours is certainly preferable to the governor in a state where people who once had homes are being forced to live on the street, and the wildfires are completely out of control.

Come springtime, the first things I’ll see will be the geese returning, and maybe some duck species like the blue-winged teals and the buffleheads, and here and there, the marshes will start growing rushes, where the herons and cranes can hide their nests.  I may find leopard frogs in shallow waters, or find a dragonfly species that is rare around here. The rushes will have started growing and all sorts of wildflowers will be thriving.

In the meantime, the  flotillas below were just getting underway when I arrived. As you probably know, they have a lead goose, plus the followers in the train. But if you observe them carefully, the lead goose position has a constant rotation: the three up front are the leaders, the most experienced in the wing of geese, and they change position with the lead goose repeatedly. Behind them, there are at least three more on each side of the wing who will slowly move up to take the lead. In this way, every senior goose gets to lead and the younger ones learn to pay attention.  While I was watching, at least four squads took off, heading west to one of the flyways to join the larger flocks on the trip south. The least experienced have to memorize that trip route in one go, because they may have to lead the flocks northward in the spring.

I wish all of you a fine, sunny weekend and pleasant weather and instead of hunting the flyers this time, just let them have one autumn flight in peace.

Category: Blue Skies

Comments (9)

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  1. Sapper3307 says:

    My Ducati has traded places with my snowblower in the garage.

  2. SFC D says:

    29 degrees at the Cantina this morning. MRS D (aka Elsa) is loving it.

  3. KoB says:

    Some of m r ducks have landed basically in the back yard of Firebase Magnolia MiLady. As mentioned before, Homeboy next door owns a fairly large tract that was a 300 acre cotton patch and several hundred more acres of timber. In and amongst all that are two ponds of ten + acres each. “Bout a mile west (on City/Country owned property) is a public lake 50 some odd acres and 1/2 mile west of that one is another private owned 50 some odd acre lake. There have been massive flights landing at each place for the last week or so, guess most of them beating feet out of your AO, some to head further South, but there is a large flock that just hangs around. We generally don’t shoot at ’em down here, most of the guys are neck deep in camo trying to get Bambi. The ones flying to Doc’s pond to my East fly right over the house, the flights heading to the western landings can be seen quite clearly, as they are winging in.

    Saw a blurb on the Commiefornia fires in a news feed. The dumbasses that made the decision to shut down the power “to prevent power line caused wildfires” killed the juice to the cell towers. Thousands of people didn’t get the word to evacuate cause their phones weren’t working. I offer up prayers for our TOW, FyrFyghter, their crews, and everyone else on that fireline.

    Georgia Forestry Department does an excellent job of controlled burns AND controlling burns. Anyone that needs a burn just has to call the Forestry Boys and they will take care of it. The Utility Companies also stay busy keeping their right of ways cut back of excess brush.

  4. ChipNASA says:

    I don’t mind them and as I haven’t been back to work since March, I’m wondering how things have been. A couple of my coworkers have visited and said the wildlife has flourished and that’s because the Center is a protected area and the neighboring Beltsville Agricultural Center (or whatever they call it now, I’m OLDer) is also somewhat of a protected facility, the critters throve. The only bad thing about this is that apparently the buildings that have been unoccupied for the most part, they’ve had critters there too. We got an e-mail about it.
    One of the guys siad there were turkeys all over the place when he was there and well, I’m OK with all of this except geese. FUCK Geese. They have mean spirits and the shit all over everything.
    Otherwise, I’m not going to have to take a golf club to anything else.

    “There’s plenty of room for all God’s creatures right next to the mashed potatoes…”

    • 5th/77th FA says:

      Chippy be ye careful on trash talking geeses or, more specifically, a goose. There may be certain Naval or Marine Aviation types around this site that may want to go all Maverick on you, cook your goose, or put you on ice, man. You don’t want them to lose that loving feeling, it’ll be gone, gone, gone. Just saying!

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      Oh, that image is funnier than a cat with a ball of fluff.

    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      I had a contract job at KSC (mumblesomething) years ago.

      The wildlife was abundant. Gators and hogs (in abundance) were serious road hazards. Hitting either at 55mph does very bad things to vehicles.

    • USAFRetired says:

      When I was at Langley doing a staff assignment My apartment used to overlook NASA Langley and the herd of deer there. It just so happened the Air Force used to have organized deer hunts on the back side of the Base near the bomb/missile dump and one of the two golf courses. I could have hunted deer from my second floor deck. Instead for the afternoon hunt we got several of the non-hunters to take their kids and dogs on a stroll from the parking lot of the NASA Visitor center over towards the bomb dump golg area but never crossing the road or entering the woods over there. Effectively they drove part of the deer herd ahead of them improving the afternoon hunting.

      The only good goose is a dead goose. They screw up golf courses and bring down airplanes.