Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Phenology: May 16, 2011

Posted by Kirk Mona
How on Earth can it be Monday again? Where does the time go? The days are getting longer but seem so short. The sun came up this morning at 5:43. My alarm clock goe off at 6:20 so we're getting into the realm where the sun is rising half an hour before I am. You'd think that would mean it is getting warm out but this past week was a bit of a bitter surprise. When we get a second bout of warmth in the fall it is called Indian Summer. What do you call a last bout of cold? The sun will set at 8:36 pm today in the twin cities giving us fourteen hours, 53 minutes and 10 seconds of day. Your actual mileage may vary by latitude.

Last week's reports:

Monday, Cottontail Rabbits were chasing each other around my yard. Aww, they're just twitterpating Bambi.

Tuesday was a beautiful day and we weren't the only ones to notice. The American Toads came out in full force on Tuesday and were singing like mad. Now summer can begin. There are two sounds that remind me of summer. American Toads and Cicadas. No Cicadas yet. Tuesday also marked the first tornado outbreak of the year in Minnesota. There were beautiful mammatus clouds in St. Paul. It's been many month since I've seen those.

On Wednesday, Warbler season really seemed to kick into full force for me. I returned from an outreach program and drove down the driveway at work with my windows down listening to see if the blue-winged warblers had returned. No such luck but I did find a lifer instead. There was a Northern Parula singing away in the tree-tops. I was delighted as they have always eluded me. I was equally delighted to be able to share the Parula with my co-workers as a pair of them showed up minutes later in the tree directly outside our office window. We could literally sit at our desks with binoculars and watch it. Later in the day we hiked down to the lake to set up a motion activated camera. A beaver is working on a dam and we're hoping to get some video. On the way down we saw Red-eyed Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, American Redstart, Tennessee Warbler, and a Cape May Warbler. While at the lake we also saw the first of the year Scarlet Tanager which has to be one of my favorite birds on earth. I also picked up a common loon on my list as somehow I had managed to not see one up until that point.

Thursday meant more warblers. I peeled myself away from my desk for a short hike and quickly found a Chestnut-sided Warbler. I was stunned when I trained my bins on some movement and discovered a Blue-winged Warbler. It was beautiful and totally unexpected as it wasn't in the habitat I was expecting. I was also delighted to discover multiple Blackburnian Warblers in the tree canopy. They are also on my top birds of all time list. Rounding out the day were a Great-crested Flycatcher and Lincoln Sparrow.

Friday, it was cold and rainy but all the blooming purple rhododendrons made up for it. Paper wasps are out steadily every day now collecting wood pulp for their hives.

Saturday wasn't so hot, in point of fact, it was damn cold. I actually canceled my afternoon canoe program which is rare. I usually go out in all weather but a wind chill of 4o° is downright dangerous and 3rd and 4th graders can't control a 17 foot aluminum canoe in 18 mph winds. My morning group did some great dip-netting in the lake finding all kinds of dragonfly nymphs, scuds, and assorted aquatic macroinvertebrates. I still have faith in the public schools as the 3rd graders already knew what the word invertebrate meant. Made my day.

What to expect this week:

The trees will continue to leaf out and we'll see Lilac come into full bloom by the end of the week. Crab apples are about to flower and it won't take much to get them going. End of the week should be beautiful with flowers. Four planets are all visible in the morning sky this week. Jupiter, Venus, Mercury and Mars. It is a cool opportunity to see all four planets at once. If you look down you can also see Earth which brings the total to five. It will be 65 to 75 degrees all week and the heat will bring the risk of more severe weather.

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