By Capt. Ralph Allen
Did anyone notice that winter went missing for much of January? On 14 of the first 21 days of the month, Punta Gorda experienced temperatures of 80 degrees or higher, including a summerlike high of 87 degrees January 9. Did you take advantage of those weeks of balmy conditions before the weather returned to a more seasonal pattern? Lots of people were spurred by that wonderful weather to alter their behavior by scheduling trips to the beach, by visiting golf courses, by going fishing or simply by getting outdoors for a walk or bicycle ride around town.
Some plants and animals in Southwest Florida also altered their behavior this month in response to the unusual weather. For example, citrus farmers are reporting loads of flowers on the thousands of trees in their commercial groves. My mango tree is currently sporting a heavy crown of blossoms, and I’m sure that many other backyard gardeners have observed similar early-season activity among their leafy wards. In the animal kingdom, through at least the middle of last week, many of the marine creatures in our region were behaving as though it were April or May instead of mid-January. Lots of snook and trout had moved out of the creeks and canals and were scattered out on the flats in shallow water, where they were blasting bait with abandon.
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