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December Nature Almanac Shows:
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Avg. High: 47° F
Avg. Low: 23° F
Max. High: 76° F (1979)
Min. Low: -24° F (1988)
Avg. Precip: 0.9
Max. Precip: 4.20" (1913)
Average Snow: 13.0"
Max. Snow: 52.5" (1913)
Max wind: 120
Gumweed (Grindelia squarrosa)
Early Easter daisies
(Townsendia hookerii and T. exscapa)
An immature trumpeter swan overwintered at the Marshall gravel ponds, along South Boulder Creek Trail, in 2005.
A new late-fall tradition in Boulder County is the annual appearance of one or more trumpeter swans on prairie lakes and ponds. The swans usually show up just as the last open water is freezing over and most waterfowl have headed farther south.
Trumpeter swans disappeared from most of the prairie region during the first two-thirds of the 20th century. By the 1950s these majestic birds had grown very rare. Protection from hunting, along with reintroduction programs in the northern Rockies and northern plains, have helped populations to recover.
Several hundred pairs now nest in the Greater Yellowstone Basin, the Dakotas, and the Nebraska Sandhills. Several thousand pairs nest from western Alaska south and east into the Canadian prairies. In December look for migrating trumpeters, and an occasional stray tundra swan, at Boulder Reservoir, Baseline Reservoir, Sawhill Ponds, and Lake Valley Pond.
December 28: The full moon rises at 4:28 p.m. Dec 27 and is full at 3:22 a.m. on Dec 28
December 13-14: Geminids meteor shower peaks. Look toward the constellation Gemini after midnight or before sunrise on the 14th. The new moon guarantees a dark sky on the peak nights of the Geminid shower (peak is mid-evening December 13 until dawn December 14). This shower often produces 50 or more meteors per hour at peak. But the nights on either side of the peak date are often good as well, and, in 2012, we’ve been getting many, many reports of fantastic displays of meteors.
All photos: Steve Jones
Read Ruth Carol Cushman and Stephen Jones's Nature Almanac column in the Daily Camera "Get Out" section the first Friday of each month.
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