PHENOLOGY OF SHOAL HARBOUR MIGRANTS

It’s phenomenal. Phenology has been expunged from the Canadian language. It does not appear  in the Oxford Canadian Dictionary (2nd edition 2006).

Spell check insists on “phrenology” instead.

It’s an American term, now. You’ll find it in the Webster : n. (biol.) a study of periodic events, e.g. flowering, breeding, migration, in relation to climatic and other factors [ PHENOMENON +Gk  logos, word ]

Some say that it’s the oldest branch of natural history, but it’s more like a root. To survive, we have taken measure of celestial signals since time immemorial, in relation to the migrations of species that we depend on, and the habitats that sustain them.

The Americans are way ahead of us in recognizing the value of long-term monitoring of seasonal phenomena. They have a national phenological network  :

www.usanpn.org/about/history

As we enter into a powerful El Nino event, citizens from around the globe will be monitoring their local flora and fauna for evidence of how they respond.

The chart du jour shows the environmental signatures of thirteen first migrants in Roberts Bay during September and October last year.  In practically all cases, migrants appeared as the pressure was rising or at peak, usually above the average.

Migrants and Pressure Shifts 2014

This suite of signals plays at frequencies related to the passage of the Rossby waves and resultant air pressure shifts. The earliest autumn migrants are the prairie “puddle” ducks, grebes and the common loon.

Buffleheads, the black signal on the chart from last October 16th, are the very last to arrive.

During strong El Ninos, peak anomalies in the South Pacific tend to occur in late October. Environment Canada’s top ten weather events of 1997 included “BC’s Big Wet”, Victoria’s Snowstorm of the century, and drought and fire on the prairies. It was a year that the insurance industry took a big hit.


The Great Bufflehead Crash of November 4th 1940, followed a record hot, dry summer in the West.

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