Allan Bell’s Birch Bark Nature Notes Revisited
Do you remember? On March 11, 1948, it was -32° F. here. Last year, on March 8, bright, shiny, red rhubarb crowns were up above the ground as much as one inch. The ground was soft and one could dig in it. Then it froze hard and stayed that way. It was more than a month before the soil would accept a shovel again.
Horned larks should be hanging around the roadsides near large fields. They are one of the earliest arrivals, pausing here on their way farther north. It takes a little luck or a lot of looking really to see their “horns,” actually tufts of feathers on the head behind each ear. Eagles may even now be soaring above any open water in their quest for fish.
Practically all use of DDT in the U.S. was banned in 1972. A new study by the National Center for Health Statistics found detectable amounts of the long-lasting pesticide (or its breakdown product DDE) in the blood serum of ALL subjects tested nationwide.
The Environmental Protection Agency, which once downplayed the threat of Dioxin, now calls Dioxin “one of the most perplexing and potentially dangerous chemicals ever to pollute the environment.” EPA now plans to investigate hundreds of manufacturing plants and waste disposal sites around the country.
Dioxin has turned up in fish, forests, dumps and waterways all over the U.S. There are at least 70 different kinds of Dioxin, but the most potentially dangerous is an unwanted byproduct in the manufacture of a chemical called chlorophenol.
This chemical is used to make herbicides such as 2,4-D, and 2,4,5-T which are used to control brush in forests, pastures, utility rights-of-way and some crop fields. Dioxin has been positively linked to cancer and birth defects in laboratory animals. Dioxin’s effect on humans is less certain but the substance is “a very potent carcinogen,” according to an EPA spokesman.
If you see brush being sprayed along the road, railroad tracks or power lines, maybe you would be interested in knowing what they are using. How would you like being the sprayer? Almost as bad as being the sprayee. Have you picked any berries on a right-of-way? (These excerpts are from Audubon Action Paper).
The Wisconsin Society of Ornithology will have a booth at the Milwaukee Sentinel Sport Show March 16-25. It will be No. 719 in Kilbourn Hall in the Auditorium. Stop and talk to them. Join. Tell em’ Dumb Bell sent you.
Excerpts from the Country Journal: Next June 23 check your thermometer. On that date in 1982 it was -117°F. at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole weather station. Remember, it’s winter then in the southern hemisphere.
The weather station at Lloro, Columbia, a Pacific coastal area in South America, reported an average annual rainfall of 530 inches. Another station had 781 inches of rain in 1936. Compare that to our 29 or 30 inches. It’s no wonder “We like it here.”
Hard to believe department: In the late 1800’s, Col. George Hall’s circus had a husband and wife team the Milwaukee Bucks or Green Bay Packers could have used. Capt. Bates was EIGHT FEET tall and weighed 550 pounds. Mrs. Bates, ever the lady, was slimmer. She was EIGHT FEET and TWO INCHES tall and weighed only 480 pounds.
Late nature writer Allan Bell wrote this Birch Bark Nature Notes column for the Tomahawk Leader back on March 7, 1984. In looking at some more recent weather, last winter at the start of March the area had five feet of snow on the ground after a record setting February. Fourteen of the first 17 days to start the month of March were below zero including seven nights where the temps crashed to minus 20 degrees or below. In comparison, this entire winter the Tomahawk area has seen just four nights in total when the overnight low dipped to minus 20 degrees. No rhubarb crowns yet, but it sure is better than how things looked when spring arrived last year.