November can truly be a month of extremes with lingering warm days as well as the first frosts and flurries of the pending winter. The colorful leaves of early autumn are replaced by naked trees stripped by the gales of November that can rock our world. But change is what keeps our natural world exciting.
November, a Time for Change
By Chuck Slusarczyk Jr.
If March "comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb", well, I guess you could say November is the converse...or at least close to it. November can truly be a month of extremes with lingering warm days as well as the first frosts and flurries of the pending winter. The colorful leaves of early autumn are replaced by naked trees stripped by the gales of November that can rock our world. But change is what keeps our natural world exciting.
By now, the heavy songbird migration of the past couple months is over and our little autumn visitors are well on their way to their warmer winter homes, but birds are still here with others still to come. While many of our winter birds have already arrived, even more will be coming to join them. Birds such as Dark-eyed Juncos and American Tree Sparrows will spend the season with us as will American Goldfinch, Northern Mockingbirds and more, but the truly exciting action will be found on the Cuyahoga River and the Cleveland lakefront with the arrival of many species of waterfowl and gulls in great numbers. High-flying flocks of Tundra Swans can often be seen over Tremont where you can hear their melodic honking calls quite unlike those of Canada Geese.
Locations such as Scranton Flats or Wendy Park are the places to go to see the incredible numbers of Ring-billed and Herring Gulls that arrive to overwinter on Lake Erie, and this month we will also start seeing flocks of the diminutive Bonaparte's Gull as they pass through on their way even further south. Among avid birders, gulls are one of the most anticipated types of birds to look for starting in November. Gulls are so much more than just french-fry nabbers and many come down from as far as the Arctic Circle and above to spend their winters with us in our comparatively balmy climate. During the summer Cleveland has only two species of gulls but, through late autumn and into the winter we can see up to 13 different species or more but you've got to be looking...some can be one day wonders! Along with the gulls, we begin to see a good variety of ducks and other waterfowl and both topics will be discussed in more detail in future posts.
For now, let's enjoy the change of season and keep your eyes and ears open. Look for the animals and plants that are sharing this change with us and see how they prepare and cope. Winter is not for everybody, but like our wild neighbors we must prepare for and cope with it, and if you're like me...get out and enjoy it!
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