Galwegians- December 2023

From our place to your place, “Happy Holidays and Season’s Greetings”! Here is a blessing for everyone in 2024. It comes from the American musician, Jon Batiste.

“May all your storms be weathered,

And all that’s good gets better.”

Well, the Galway Hall continues to see progress on its renovations to its kitchen, bar and main hall. Kitchen cabinets and countertops are being installed and the new appliances have arrived. The flooring has yet to arrive and be installed. The completion deadline of the end of this year is still the target.

Curiously, the lack of a variety of birds at our feeders continues since the last Galwegian article. The blue jays continue to ‘pig-out’ on the seeds daily. One Hairy woodpecker frequently appears. The two chipmunks that are still out around our place reap the benefits of the sunflower seeds that are scattered onto the ground by the sloppy eating habits of the jays and woodpecker. Briefly, just this week, a white-breasted nuthatch made an appearance. Still, there have been no sightings of chickadees or finches yet at our feeders. In conversations with other people that use their birdfeeders, their observations are very similar- lots of blue jays and not much else.

Still on the topic of birds, Clear Bay has been a stopover resting and feeding area for a multitude of migrating waterfowl (ducks, geese, and swans) in the first couple of weeks of November. For several weeks, four trumpeter swans have been around. Recently, these four were joined on the bay by two more and then by a family of three- two adults and one juvenile. The trumpeter juvenile remains gray in colour throughout its first fall and winter.

The two immature loons were spotted together on Saturday, November 11th. On that same day, two bald eagles were also seen as were two mourning doves and two pileated woodpeckers that were both working on the same dead tree.

Did you hear that the American Ornithological Society is in the process of changing the names of some birds? This is in a bid to “address past wrongs”. The Society has pledged to change all English bird names that honour people. The Society is going to start with 70 to 80 species that are found in North America. Here are a few examples of birds that can be found in Canada that will get a new name at some point: Cooper’s hawk, Stellar’s jay, Swainson’s thrush, Lincoln’s sparrow, Franklin’s gull, and Wilson’s warbler.

If yard clean-up was on your agenda this fall, and if white pines were in the vicinity, probably you noticed an abundance of pine cones. Research indicates that, in a year that is drier than normal, the white pines tend to produce more cones. Luckily, scientific evidence does not show that large quantities of cones are a precursor to the coming of a ‘hard’ winter.

Looking up into the night sky this December, if there are no clouds, Mercury will be at its highest point above the horizon on December 4th.Look for it in the western sky just after sunset. December 13/14 is the Geminids Meteor Shower. It is considered the ‘king’ of meteor showers producing up to 120 multicoloured meteors per hour at its peak. Best viewing for this show will be after midnight. The Ursids Meteor Shower happens on December 21/22. This is a minor shower producing about 5-10 meteors per hour. The winter solstice begins at 3:21 UTC on December 22nd. On December 27th, the Full Moon occurs. It is called as the Cold Moon and is also known as the Long Nights Moon and the Moon Before Yule.

Still looking upwards but into the first month of the new year, the Quadrantids Meteor Shower occurs on January 3 / 4, Mercury is best on the 12th, and the Full Moon on January 25th.

In the game of chess, the word ‘Checkmate’ comes from the Persian phrase “Shah Mat” which means “the king is dead”.

Have you heard of the term “Digital Nomads”? According to Wikipedia, digital nomads are people who travel freely while working remotely using technology and the internet. The majority of digital nomads describe themselves as programmers, content creators, designers, or developers. Such people generally have minimal material possessions.

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