Weather vain: ISS lands in Boca

Santa was very kind to me this Christmas. Not only did I get some awesome wardrobe updates (I mean, come on, a “Meet the Beetles” t-shirt from National Geographic! And a matching one in a size that Eric will be before I know it!), I also got some geek kit. Santa must have picked up on my frustration when, a couple of months ago, my previously satisfactory rain gauge from Oregon Scientific began blinking and refusing to send rainfall data. This caused me to miss out on some really big rain days in this El Nino-fired wet dry season, including [...]

Christmas party

Our neighbors across the street threw a Christmas party last night, and as luck would have it, it was one of the rainiest afternoon/evenings in recent memory. The streets were flooded, and I really regret not having been able to mow the lawn before the rain started…

But, luck tends to even out. This morning dawned bright and beautiful, and since Eric wouldn’t let me sleep, I decided to take him outside to enjoy the morning as only he knows how: splashing through puddles! (Last night as we went home from the party he spent about 5 minutes stomping through [...]

When is fall in South Florida?

I mean, really! The leaves of our tropical and subtropical trees aren’t really deciduous, so we can’t rely on the glorious fall defoliation as an indicator. This defoliation, which some people like because it’s preceded by a change in color from healthy chlorophyll green to less healthy oranges, browns, and reds, is caused by hormonal changes in the tree which are in turn triggered by shortened day length and cooler weather. These hormonal changes lead the trees to sever the links between their twigs and their leaves; if you look at the leaf stem, you’ll see the typical abscission marks [...]

New moon tonight

If you go down to the observing pad tonight aiming for faint fuzzies, you’re in for a good ‘un. At least, as long as it’s not a cloudy night. Because tonight, we are at the new moon (image from the USNO website here):

Since the moon’s sunlit half will be facing away from us tonight, there will be no moonlight to wash out the nebulae, galaxies, etc. (collectively known as faint fuzzies) on which amateur astronomers lavish so much of their time and attention. Or, if you’re so inclined, you might like to check out Uranus (no potty [...]

If it weren’t for all the rain…

When my wife and I visited Scotland more years ago than readers of this blog are invited to think about, we got great enjoyment from a weather reporter reminding us, in her bonnie Scots burr: “Remember–if it weren’t for all the rain, there wouldn’t be so many rainbows.” As tourists, we were still able to enjoy the spring showers, pedaling up [...]

What do the plants know that I don’t?

All of the plants in our yard are in outrageous bloom or fruit this summer. Our ixora hedge (non-native) has never had so many lovely pink blossoms. Our areca palm (also non-native) has never thrown off so many juicy (but inedible to me and all the birds too) nuts; it took several wheelbarrows full to cart them off after I realized that they were never going to stop dropping onto our driveway, littering our sidewalk, and making it impossible to walk around in bare feet.

The natives are getting into the act as well. Our ground-hugging cocoplums are fruiting like [...]

Saturday Stroll-with rain

This morning’s stroll, according to the radar, should have been safe. It had been raining off and on all night, but the radar images clearly showed that the rain bands that had been coming on shore all morning were petering out, and the last ones had already moved through our area.

Heh. So much for technology. If you want to know whether it’s going to rain: look outside! Unfortunately, I neglected to do that, so our morning stroll was quite a bit wetter than I’d expected. We spent most of the walk huddled under a palm tree at the new [...]

Park substitutes

Broward County parks are closed on Tuesdays, so Fern Forest is off limits. On my intermittent searches for a substitute park, I’ve run across some pretty nice places. Windmill Park, on Lyons Road just north of Atlantic (less than a mile from Fern Forest, actually), is OK. Today, though, I went back to the first park I visited when I started working at the soon-to-be-vacated office location: Hampton Pines Park, in North Lauderdale. It’s just a few miles west on McNab Road.

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Fall foliage. In Florida?

Sure! Everyone who’s ever spent time in subtropical Florida has heard the popular wisdom that there are only two seasons: wet and dry. But after you’ve been here for a while, it’s possible to make out some subtle reminders of the pattern in temperate latitudes. They’re just not as noticeable, and they usually come a little bit later.

For example, the leaves do change color. Here’s a Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) with the leaflets starting to turn rusty:

In a month or two, when the cypress trees leaf out again, the leaflets look like this:

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The great outdoors – in my backyard!

Most of the people who know me would agree that I’m pretty much a homebody. Sure, from time to time you’ll catch me on a nature walk at Yamato Scrub, or leading a field trip for the local Audubon Society. And as a birder, I’m not immune to the temptation to drive all over creation chasing a rarity. And I’m even occasionally to be found in India. But for various reasons (new paternal duties, the price of gas, the desire to avoid damaging the environment, even just plain old personality), I prefer to stay at home and try to bring [...]