One person’s problem is another’s pleasure.
We are in the midst of the all-time wettest May on record in the Chicago area. And it’s only May 19th. The previous May precipitation record of 8.25″ set just last year. This is a symptom of our warming planet. Warmer air holds more moisture and when that air cools it dumps all of its moisture at once. What has been problematic for the people has been a boon for a lot of the pond life in my yard.
A Daily Record Busted
It started raining Thursday morning, a soft, soaking mist that lasted most of the day. A peek of the sun in the late afternoon sent temperatures and humidities soaring before the rain returned. By nightfall, the rain gauge showed 1.25 inches. Heavy storms, wind, and thunder rumbled throughout the night. By Friday morning, another 3.25″ had fallen. Four and a half inches were in the rain gauge within 24 hours.
The culvert was overwhelmed, to say the least, and my backyard pond was in flood. Our small fishing boat canted precariously, its taut line tethered to the submerged dock and its buoyancy fighting to keep it afloat. There are two fishing rod holders on the dock that rise three and a half feet from the deck. They are completely submerged. Even if I could navigate through the dark water and find the dock, my hip waders wouldn’t be enough to keep the cold water at bay. I will not be rescuing the boat. I can only hope the water will recede before it swamps.
Late in the afternoon as the waters started to recede, Rob waded out to the dock, with only a few inches to spare on his hip waders, to pull the boat ashore.
Pond Life Takes Advantage
My neighbors’ dock floated away buoyed by the rising waters. It took off with his canoe and johnboat attached. The Great Blue Heron appreciated the new vantage point.
It was a heydey for the waterfowl. Both Canada Goose families hung around all morning, venturing further up into the yard without having to stray from the safety of the water.
Another Great Blue Heron had a lot of success fishing from the lawn. Every time I walked past the window, it seemed like he was eating again.
A thick bullfrog sought refuge atop crabapple clippings in the burn pile. In the afternoon, the biggest Painted Turtle I’ve ever seen was sunning himself on my neighbor’s displaced canoe. There usually aren’t any good haul-out spots for sunbathing. I’ll have to see what I can do to create something on a more permanent basis.
A pair of American Toads got together on a rain-soaked path. And our resident muskrat took the opportunity to forage further away from the pond up in the woods. All of the pondlife is taking advantage of the new environment.
The Songbirds are in Trouble
All of the songbirds that hunkered down through yesterday’s deluge are making up for lost time at the feeders today. The cold, wet spring has been hard on birds, especially the insectivores. In this weather, the insects simply aren’t out. The resultant hunger is bringing birds to backyard feeders in astounding numbers, and sightings of rare backyard birds like scarlet tanagers and indigo buntings are on the rise.
With today’s warmth fueled by all of the rain, I think I can see the garden (and the weeds) growing in real-time. This afternoon is ideal weather for mushroom hunting.
Sunday, another 2.75″ of rain fell in an all-day cold, gray drenching. This time the culvert handled the runoff from the saturated, squishy ground.
We’ve had three times the average rainfall for May and two weeks left to go in the month. I’ve got to refill the feeders and put out more oranges to help my feathered friends make it through.
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