Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Sunday, November 1, 2009


The neighborhood surrounding our little abode is known as Oak Hill. Naturally, with the exception of a few white pines I planted, it's mainly large mature oak trees. The oaks consist of white, burr and a few reds. They shade and shelter us. On occasion they draw lightening bolts. Overall I love their strength and beauty. Except....

Except for one little thing. Acorns. It was a great year for acorns. Last year a friend asked for a few acorns in the fall. Zip. I couldn't find a one

By Brigid SchulteWashington Post Staff Writer Sunday, November 30, 2008
The idea seemed too crazy to Rod Simmons, a measured, careful field botanist. Naturalists in Arlington County couldn't find any acorns. None. No hickory nuts, either. Then he went out to look for himself. He came up with nothing. Nothing crunched underfoot. Nothing hit him on the head.

Then calls started coming in about crazy squirrels. Starving, skinny squirrels eating garbage, inhaling bird feed, greedily demolishing pumpkins. Squirrels boldly scampering into the road. And a lot more calls about squirrel roadkill.

But Simmons really got spooked when he was teaching a class on identifying oak and hickory trees late last month. For 2 1/2 miles, Simmons and other naturalists hiked through Northern Virginia oak and hickory forests. They sifted through leaves on the ground, dug in the dirt and peered into the tree canopies. Nothing.
"I'm used to seeing so many acorns around and out in the field, it's something I just didn't believe," he said. "But this is not just not a good year for oaks. It's a zero year. There's zero production. I've never seen anything like this before."
The absence of acorns could have something to do with the weather, Simmons thought. But he hoped it wasn't a climatic event. "Let's hope it's not something ghastly going on with the natural world."
To find out, Simmons and Arlington naturalists began calling around. A naturalist in Maryland found no acorns on an Audubon nature walk there. Ditto for Fairfax, Falls Church, Charles County, even as far away as Pennsylvania. There are no acorns falling from the majestic oaks in Arlington National Cemetery.
"Once I started paying attention, I couldn't find any acorns anywhere. Not from white oaks, red oaks or black oaks, and this was supposed to be their big year," said Greg Zell, a naturalist at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington. "We're talking zero. Not a single acorn. It's really bizarre."
Zell began to do some research. He found Internet discussion groups, including one on Topix called "No acorns this year," reporting the same thing from as far away as the Midwest up through New England and Nova Scotia. "We live in Glenwood Landing, N.Y., and don't have any acorns this year. Really weird," wrote one. "None in Kansas either! Curiouser and curiouser."
Jennifer Klepper of Annapolis even blogged about it. "Last year our trees shot down so many acorns that you were taking your life into your own hands if you went outside without a crash helmet on," she wrote this month. "But this year? Forget it."

Garris started calling nurseries. "I was worried they'd think I was crazy. But they said I wasn't the only one calling who was concerned about it," she said. "This is the first time I can remember in my lifetime not seeing any acorns drop in the fall and I'm 53. You have to wonder, is it global warming? Is it environmental? It makes you wonder what's going on."
Simmons has a theory about the wet and dry cycles. But many skeptics say oaks in other regions are producing plenty of acorns, and the acorn bust here is nothing more than the extreme of a natural boom-and-bust cycle. But the bottom line is that no one really knows. "It's sort of a mystery," Zell said."

This year.... well take a look at my deck. Every day for weeks it looked liked this.

And every day I swept it clean. No walking in the back yard with bare feet. Ouch! Was I happy about this situation? No way. Was anybody happy about this situation? I guess so!


  1. I live in northern Michigan and this is the SECOND year in a row for us with no acorns. We had a LATE freeze both years...could that be it??? I feel for the squirrels and other critters here. At least THIS year we have apples...they were a bust last year.

  2. I am glad to know the squirrels in your area will be well fed even though walking in your yard requires a bit of strategy to avoid injury. I didn't know there was ever a time when those little bombs failed to drop out of the trees. I guess I learned something new.

  3. I hear you. I love my shade trees - until they drop their leaves and my black walnut tree drops the hard stuff. Great pictures.

  4. I can't remember a time of NO acorns..and we have a huge oak tree in our back yard..we might have seen a small decine last year but they are everywhere this year..dropping like cannon balls..We can't even let the cars in the drive way due to the "dings" they get from free falling acorns..or those crazy squirrels might be hurling them downward...they do get bored you know.
    Interesting post!!

  5. We share your predicament with acorns... white, red, etc. oaks abound here. You look as though you've had a bumper crop this year! Last year they were SO THICK here that I was afraid to walk around the yard! (!) This year we've had the normal abundance... thank heavens. Don't you think there might be a way to make a gasoline additive?? ;-)

  6. WOW! Those are SOME acorns now! Funny how it can be so different one year to the next.

  7. We have bunches of acorns this year, and for the first time even found acorns under my pin oaks!
    The deer really like them too.

  8. Steady, even production of acorns in my yard year after year in S. Idaho. I did not know there was such an uneven production in some parts of the country. Thanks for the info.

  9. We bought our house in Rockwood 1 year ago this week. The yard was full of Chestnuts, Pecans, Hickory Nuts. Hard to walk for it all, but the pecans were the most. This year we have the Chestnuts, but no Hickory or Pecans. None! Kind of like your story about the acorns last year.

  10. Wow! I thought we had a lot of acorns, but you have us beat by a long shot.

  11. Glad the oaks (and squirrels) are making up for a bad year. It happens--in the Alleghenies, we always blamed mastless years on a late frost when the oaks etc were in blossom.