Signs and marvels
“Ah! A rare sighting of the Lesser Spotted Woodland Jellyfish!” says Hydragenic in a comment on this photo at my Flickr site. He’s right. But rare sightings like this will only become more common as global climate change accelerates and all species, even imaginary ones, find their ecological niches suddenly shifting or disappearing. Here in Pennsylvania, we can expect a lot less snow and a lot more ice in the years to come, with possibly devastating effects on native forest ecosystems.
Last weekend’s ice storm was marvelous: the kind that drops plenty of pellet ice first, providing a nice, granular surface for easy walking, and then just enough freezing rain to make things all glittery — or grotesque, as the case may be — without bringing down any trees. My mother was in heaven, since her poor sense of balance and bad back keep her house-bound after most ice storms, and nothing is quite so frustrating to a naturalist as being confined to quarters. The cold weather held the ice for a day and a half, and hoar frost coated the ice on the morning of the second day. (I have a series of five photos taken that day set to appear at my photoblog, Visual Soma, Feb. 8-12).
Now everything’s melted again after two days of unseasonable warmth, and another cold front has blown in. Unlike many folks to the north and northeast of us, we have yet to receive any dramatic snowfalls this winter, which is bad news for shrews, voles, and other subnivean creatures whose population ecology depends on a couple months of the year to reproduce realtively unmolested by the usual battery of predators.