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This Week’s Creature Feature: 2019 in Review

We live in unpredictable times
     2019 has been unusual for our local flora and fauna. The wet and cool spring delayed plant growth and bird nesting. The osprey along the Patuxent River were two to three weeks late hatching. The bluebirds in my yard tried to hatch a first brood in early April only to have their eggs freeze. Later, they had two successful broods.
     I had made spring plans to visit the Great Swamp in New Jersey, but it rained for the entire week, and the roads were flooded. 
     After the cool and wet spring, suddenly it was summer and dry and hot, then very, very hot. The heat was even more stressful for plants and animals.
     Trees defoliated in the heat. Fewer animals came out in the open during the day. Puddles, ponds and streams dried up, which was harsh for the fish and amphibians that lived there. Some farmers put out kiddie pools of water for the deer and other large animals. Walking in the woods was not as pleasant as usual.
     Because of the hot weather that persisted into the fall, there was less food for migrating birds, and they seemed not to hang around to rest and feed but to fly on.
     Despite the weather, I was able to find several scarlet and summer tanagers. I spotted large numbers of tree frogs along the Patuxent River. Many monarch caterpillars enjoyed my milkweed garden, and I had five hummingbirds visit regularly.
    Now it seems like it is to be cold and wet through the end of the year, and the ducks seem happy. On a drive along the Bay down to the Choptank River, I saw lots of ducks. 
     Hopefully the weather will be less volatile next year. But each year now seems less predictable.