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August 2008 Diary

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August 3  I don't have much to report but that it has been raining almost incessantly for the last 3 days and it will continue for at least 1 more day.  July was one of the wettest summer months that I can remember since I arrived in Bathurst over 42 years ago.  I am a flower and vegetable gardener and I don't forget these things.  If this continues, August could be worse.  For the last few mornings the day began with heavy fog and rain.  The rain has continued all day in cycles of drizzle, rain and downpours.  This morning by 9:00 we experienced at least the 3rd downpour since 7:00.  Actually it's more like a continuous downpour.  The Weather Network has issued a Rainfall Warning for today and they predicted a total rainfall of up to 50 mm.  I wouldn't be surprised if the total precipitation this summer will exceed the total precipitation we had this winter.  We had a record snowfall of about    500 cm or 5 m which is equivalent to over 15 feet of snow or about 2' of rain.

Those of you that have visited me over the years might remember the small brook behind the house that barely trickles during the summer months.  Well it's more than a trickle now.  The water flow is greater than this spring's.  In 35 years I have never seen so much water in the brook.  In the upper middle part of the photo is submerged a tiny island that is always accessible during the summer.   The photo may not be very impressive to you but the flow is hundreds if not a thousand times greater than normal. 

For the last week it has been hard to give the birds any meaningful exercise.  For example, mid afternoon yesterday  I put out the birds out.  The rain had stop, the clouds brightened up and a few patches of blue could be seen between the clouds.  The team was very anxious to get out and flew vigorously for 25 minutes and then out of nowhere another downpour started.  Exercise period barely lasted 10 more minutes.

Even with this weather, the birds look good.  They looked better at this time last year but considering the weather we have been experiencing, the vast majority look fine.  As expected some of the strugglers are hoping for a shortened season.  I've seen better droppings this year.  With the persistent humid and wet weather nothing wants to dry; every that can absorb moisture does.

Environment Canada's present long range forecast for Wednesday for Truro and throughout the course is for a mix of sun and cloud.  So S5 is tentatively scheduled for that day.

August 12th -

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever the weather will be, will be
The future's not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be 

It seems that I have spent most of the summer evaluating the weather predictions from several sources.  I have come to the conclusion that the best forecast is the present weather. 

For the last month the normal day began with fog, mist or light showers then during most afternoons it rained.  Around 9:00 am the fog left and if we were lucky we got a few hours break from the rain.  The birds were exercised during this break and often the exercise was curtailed because of the rain.  The birds have only seen the sun once since the last race.  The best we could hope for were bright clouds and we got that only a few times.  

This morning was a typical morning Ė fog, mist and light showers.  The birds were put out around 9:00 during the break from the rain and within 30 minutes it began showering again.  By dinner time it changed to an incessant rain and by mid afternoon it became downpour and it stayed that way until suppertime. 

The birds are handling the weather better than I am.  They have been on 16 hours of light since June 21st.  Approaching the end of July some birds were showing signs of pin feathers around the beak and eyes and the cover feathers began to feel looser than normal. Because of the overcast days with dark clouds Iíve left the lights on all day.  Besides this, the birds are fine considering the weather conditions.  Droppings remain small, round and firm and their appetites are very good. 

If the weather forecast doesnít change Stage 6 (370 km) will be flown Thursday from Antigonish. Actually, the release point is about 25 south of Antigonish.  Even though Stage 6 is only 60 km further than stage 5 it can be a very tough race in the best of weather.  This is the first time the birds will be confronted with the decision to fly over open water or negotiate the longer route along the coast.  On this course I have found that the birds often fly faster in high ceiling overcast conditions.

The present Environment Canada forecast for the course is below.  The Weather Network predicts more sun and cloud through Nova Scotia:

Antigonish - Cloudy with 30 percent chance of showers. High 25.    

Charlottetown - A mix of sun and cloud. High 23.

Truro - Cloudy with 30 percent chance of showers. High 25.

Moncton - A mix of sun and cloud. High 25.

Miramichi - Sunny. High 23.

Bathurst - Sunny. High 23.

I am prepared to stay longer in Antigonish if the weather worsens.  Of course, that is, if Donna and Ken Gavel are willing to put up with me.