Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Solstice: Welcoming Back the Sun

December 21 is the official first day of winter, but winter has blanketed Central Oregon for over a month. The 17" snowfall last week was like a homecoming party for the season. That's OK, I like winter.

But for those that don't, over the next couple of days, here in the Northern Hemisphere, we'll have the shortest periods of daylight for the year. These aren't the "shortest days," the 24-hour clock is still on, but these days are more about darkness than light.

Today is also the winter solstice, a time when the sun reaches 23.5 degrees south latitude or directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. The sun will stay at this point for several days, then the Earth's orbital pathway will start to bring the sun back to our northern latitudes. So today is a welcoming of winter, a welcoming of the darkness and a welcoming of the return of light that is soon to initiate.

 (NASA)
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Monday, December 12, 2016

Winter Wings Festival

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The 2017 Winter Wings Festival will be held President's Day Weekend, Feb. 16-19. I'll be leading one of the two Owl Prowls at Klamath Marsh NWR, Over the years, we've had some really poor nights due to rain and high winds, and some exceptional nights of clear skies, calm winds and lots of owls calling. Two years ago, we located 32 owls representing seven species. Short-eared owl would have made that eight species; barred owl could have been number nine.

This is a great festival with a lot of field trips, photography workshops and presentations. Keynote speakers this year include Paul Bannick, Chas Glatzer and Scott Weidensaul. Registration is now open and some courses have already filled. See you there!