Backyard Almanac: December’s Big Finale and January’s Bright Start
Snow has been the primary topic of conversations around the Northland as of recent. December set a new record for snowfall; a record that had stood since 1950. “Sure enough, it took until 6 o'clock in the evening," says Larry Weber of the record. "It came in the last few hours of the month, but yes, it did happen." And the snow is still falling. January is off to a heavy start as the snow goes.
The nights might be long, but when a full moon is shining, the nights can also be remarkably bright. "Last night... we had brand new snow and then we had a full moon," says Weber. "You put the two together and we had a very bright night." The moonlight reflects the light from the sun and the snow reflects the light of the moon. It's a light you could read a book by.
Perihelion happened on the 4th of January – the time of year that earth is closest to the sun. Weber notes that it was also a day when we got a lot of snow. Sunrises also start getting earlier. The change will be slow-going, but mornings will start getting lighter sooner.
Carlton County postponed their Christmas bird count until January 3rd due to weather. “It was a good day,” says Weber. “The average turned out to be about 30 different species of birds.” Weber likens the bird count to a census. It’s a way to see what birds spend their winters in the Northland. “There were some surprises.” Goldeneye ducks and red-winged blackbirds were a couple of species spotted that are more typically seen only in the warmer months.
"It may be cold, it may be winter," says Weber, "but it's great to get out and take a look at it."