Eureka Nature

For posting information about natural history events in and around Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

December Meteor Shower

The Geminid Meteor shower will occur from December 6 thru 19. The maximum is on the 13th, and will be blessed by a dark sky since the moon will be near new, that is, dark and setting early.

Some Climate Observations

Even though December has the shortest days of the year, the coldest period of the winter is the latter half of January. The disparity, or lag time, is due to the fact that as days shorten, especially after the equinox around September 20, the amount of heat built up during the daytime is not as much as is lost overnight. So the overall cooling begins in late summer, and accelerates throughout the fall. The increase in day length after New Year's isn't enough to reverse the trend, so the climate keeps cooling on through January. It's only when the days have lengthened enough to allow heat gain to exceed heat loss that the climate begins its slow warming.

A look at the average highs and lows through the fall and winter months shows the pattern.

...........Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar
Highs ..72 ..58.. 48.. 46 ..52.. 62
Lows ...50.. 39.. 29.. 26.. 30.. 38

(numbers from

The Chinese had names for two week periods through the year, and the first two weeks of January were called "the little cold", and the second half was called "the great cold". It's some relief to realize that the world is already warming measurably in February, and that the rate of warming increases as the ratio of day-length to night-length increases. A similar lag time phenomena happens in the summer, so that the hottest part of the year occurs after the period of longest days. Similarly for summer days, the hottest part of the day is around 5pm, well past the point when the sun is overhead.

I'm working on HTML, please forgive current awkwardness.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Lake Leathrwood birding report

Had an excellent morning with 41 species observed. And that's with not all the woodpeckers, as the Hairies I had been finding managed to hide. Both Kinglets, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned, made appearances, as well as both Vultures, Turkey and Black. Many Bufflehead have settled in, scattered and diving on the Lake, and there were large flocks of Goldfinches, and smaller ones of Robins, Cedar Waxwings, and White-throated Sparrows. The best surprise was a very late Gray Catbird. It was more than six weeks later than any I'd seen in the fall here before. The Arkansas Audubon Society checklist shows them only to the third week of October, statewide except in the south. I'm also still seeing an Eastern Phoebe in the meadow campground area, where two tayed all inter last year. Other nice touches were a brown Creeper in the cabin area, and a Ross's Goose among the several hundred Snow Geese flying over. As late as Friday there were still five Wood Ducks, but I couldn't refind them this morning. There are more Pied-bill Grebes and American Coots than I've seen in previous years. The reliable Great Blue Heron was at it's post, as well as the usually resident Belted Kingfisher.

The Arkansas checklist can be found as a PDF file at

If you want to order nicely printed heavy cardbord versions, the ordering information can be found in the pdf file.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Local Woodpecker variety

We're fortunate to live in a place where you can see seven kinds of woodpeckers in the winter months. Walking around at Lake Leatherwood, there are Red-bellied WP, Downy WP, Hairy WP ( a large version of the Downy, with a much larger bill, but much less common), Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers (with their large white wing patch), Northern Flickers, and the large noisy Pileated WP. In town there are several areas where Red-headed WP are seen regularly.

An online guide to bird identification is avaiable from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Lake Leatherwood birding report

The Disorganized Bird Club of (mostly) Harrison came to Lake Leatherwood for a field trip on Saturday. We found 35 species, mostly the usual suspects, with six kinds of woodpeckers, some beautiful Mallards at the shallow pool where the creek enters near the beginning of the Beacham trail. Several other kinds of duck have arrived for the winter as well. The best sighting was a flock of Trumpeter Swans way high overhead.

Friday, November 19, 2004

A site for Natural History

This blog is a site for posting information about natural events in and around Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Examples would be reports of bird sightings, current wildflowers in bloom, butterfly hatches, meteor showers, eclipses, concerns about environmental issues, and things of that sort.