Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Phenology: April 11, 2011

Posted by Kirk
The sun rose this morning at 6:36 AM and I have rarely been so spiteful of a being awake for sunrise. I came down with a bad cold last night and barely slept. Hello Mr. Sun. I did manage to get back into bed and fall asleep in the middle of the day missing out on more awesome weather. Thirteen hours, seventeen minutes and eighteen seconds after sunrise the sun will set at 7:53 PM. as I mentioned last week, we transitioned into 13 hours of sunlight back on Wednesday. Coincidentally, our first 60° temp reading of the year was the very next day. We're still gaining over three minutes of daylight per day but not for long. While we're still gaining sunlight the amount we're gaining decrease each day now. By next Sunday we'll be gaining less than three minutes per day. Don't worry sun lovers, the days will still continue to get longer until the summer solstice. We'll even hit our first 14 hours of sun day by the end of this month.

Phenology sightings were almost too much to keep up with this week. Check out the day by day account.

Monday I had the luck of teaching an insects class in the cold. I use the term loosely compared to the cold of the winter but it was still a challenge to find insects given the temperature. Bluebirds and phoebes flying around are a pretty good indication some food must be out there. Still, it seemed like this year the birds came to check out their territory and then headed back to food sources (probably the river.) When I took my group outside I did find some kind of diptera flying around and three different species of moths in the maple sap. I didn't have time to key out the exact species. This was also the first day I saw Mallards in the small pond near the main building at work. It is finally opened up enough for them to check it out. Juncos are still around. Osprey arrived at their nest in Bayport on the St. Croix river. Reports of Sapsuckers continued to come in from across the metro. Not first of the year sightings but certainly a sign spring was to come on full speed this week. This was also the day we pulled all of the maple taps from the trees as the trees have started to bloom and stopped producing sap.

Tuesday I watched a female American Kestrel catch a vole on the side of the road on my way home from work. That afternoon we also heard the first Western Chorus Frogs singing. I saw John in Carver County reported the first Northern Flickers I've heard of this spring. Kathy from Brooklyn Park reported a Golden-crowned Kinglet at the Old Cedar Bridge. Chris in Monticello reported the first Swainson's Thrushes of the year.

Wednesday was gorgeous and the first of the year Fox Sparrows showed up at work as they migrated north. They were feeding under the feeders along with a Junco. We also caught sight of our Eastern Phoebes doing some preliminary nest building on our phoebe web cam. I'll post a link to the feed once we have the bugs worked out. I think our computer is getting old and not too happy about being on 24 hours a day to monitor the nest. First of the year wood frogs came out at the nature center and many other locations around the metro. I heard them calling and even found a handful of them on the forest floor. While it wasn't on me, we did get our first of the year wood tick while on a hike and a group I was with saw the first of the year Hermit Thrush at the nature center. The first report of a yellow-rumped (myrtle) warbler came in from John who saw them at the Landscape Arboretum along with ruby and golden-crowned kinglets.

Thursday: How many times can I use the work gorgeous and wonderful this week? Thursday was out first 60° dayof the year. We saw our first mourning cloak butterfly out and about. Interestingly, Dan Tallman spotted his first mourning cloak on the very same day. Isaac reported the first bats of the season at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis. I did some clearing of winter cover in the garden and discovered poppies and stone crop already pushing up from the ground.

More birds showed up at work. The Tree Swallows are back and Turkey Vultures are flying overhead. First of the year Spring Peepers joined in with the other frogs by the end of the day. Kids found the first fiddleheads from Interrupted Fern just barely poking up through the soil. Another group of kids flushed several first of the year Northern Flickers from the prairie.

On Saturday I took girl scouts on some long hikes with the threat of rain present in the distance. We stayed dry and saw some great sights. At a campfire ring we found at least four first of the year Garter Snakes emerging from their hibernaculum. We also found many, many wood ticks. We checked on the Bald Eagle nest on our property as well. One bird was on the nest while the other flew around the area or perched nearby. Saturday also saw multiple reports of pasque flowers blooming around the metro. Common Loons are also entering the area as Tom reports seeing 16 of them on Lake Hiawatha in Minneapolis!

Sunday, it felt positively tropical in Minnesota after the overnight thunderstorm left us with warm weather and increased humidity. I noticed the Osprey have returned to the intersection of 169 and Hwy 62. I drove through the area twice that day and they were present both times. They were probably wondering what happened to their awesome nest site atop the super high highway lights. The nest was removed (along with the entire lighting tower) after the end of last nesting season. (I got late word that while this is last year's female, it is NOT the same male as last year. No one is sure where he flew off to.) I saw a Groundhog out and about on the side of the highway as well. All week people passed on reports of Brown-headed Cowbirds showing up around the metro. I haven't seen or heard them yet out at work but it is only a matter of time. Alex reports a Rusty Blackbird at Dodge Nature Center. Ron Refsnider who bird bands at Springbrook nature center in Fridley caught a migrating Swamp Sparrow and that's the first report of that species I've seen for the metro.

This Week:

Watch for Goldfinches, some are getting a lot of their yellow color by this week. Lakes don't stand a chance with the warm weather and will ice-out some time this week. As stated above, loons are in the area and they will start to arrive on territorial lakes this week as they open up. More migrants are on the way in terms of new species as well as just overall numbers of birds. Get ready, it's going to be another great week. I just hope this cold doesn't keep me inside!



Unknown said...

I just did a recap of our recent first-of-season sightings in the Northfield area. I forgot to include yellow-bellied sapsucker on 4/9.