Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Phenology: May 23, 2011

Posted by Kirk Mona
The sun rose this morning almost an hour before I did. It came streaming through my windows at 5:36 AM. Sunset will be at 8:44 PM. We've crossed into 15 hours of daylight with a total today of 15 hours, 7 minutes and 43 seconds. This is an important milestone as it will be the last full extra hour of sunlight we'll add. The longest day of the year in the Twin Cities will be 15 hours, 37 minutes long so we have almost exactly 30 more minutes to add. It's starting to feel like summer outside and this week was full of blooming flowers and blooming storms.

Last week's reports:

Monday I noticed my Hydrangea are starting to leaf out on the old wood. Eastern Phoebes are in the middle of incubation and their young will hatch next week.

Tuesday I heard my first of the year Eastern Wood Pewee in the woods at work in northern Washington County. Their call heralds the last of the spring migrants showing up and I love hearing them singing away. I always think of their ascending whistle followed by a descending slide as a little kid saying, "Hey GUYS . . . WAIT up."

Wednesday I heard my first singing Wood Thrush of the year.The first was seen and heard at the nature center on the 12th of the month but now they are regular every day. Now if only I could actually see one I would put it on my year list.

Thursday I noticed mature Crabapples blooming everywhere but the young prairie fire crab in my yard had not yet burst open. While on a hike down to the lake at work I heard an unfamiliar warble from the woods. I took a few steps down a deer path to a clearing and waited. Within a few minutes a small bird flew past and teed up on a branch. I was delighted when through by binoculars I saw a spectacular male Hooded Warbler. He was re-heard for the next two days at least so if he's still around singing next Thursday it is considered probable breeding evidence. Groups touring our bog and fen report a bumper crop of Sundew is up this spring.

Friday, Yellow Lady Slipper Orchids have been sprouting up since last weekend. They are now about a foot tall. Jack-in-the-pulpit have sprouted as well. Perfoliate Bellwort is blooming and wood violets and rue anemone continue to put on a show. Friday we saw our first Orchard Oriole of the season at the nature center as well.

Saturday, I cancelled all of my canoe programs for the second weekend in the row due to the threat of thunderstorms. The rain seemed to hold off in the morning just long enough for us to have our Bird Banding and Raptor Festival. Girl scouts came to to learn about birds and in the two hours of the program we discovered 32 species of birds. To give you an idea of what's out there right now, here's the list. White-breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped chickadee, American Goldfinch, Eastern Phoebe, Great-crested Flycatcher, Brown Headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, House Finch, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Orchard Oriole, Chipping Sparrow, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Mourning Warbler, Western Palm Warbler, Eastern Wood Pewee, Yellow-throated Vireo, Chimney Swift, Northern Cardinal, American Crow, Common Yellowthroat, Magnolia Warbler, Least Flycatcher, American Redstart, Swainson's Thrush, Hairy Woodpecker, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Belted Kingfisher, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Green Heron, Eastern Kingbird, and Sandhill Cranes.

Sunday I was standing in a middle of a large glass greenhouse complex with my wife and sun when the tornado sirens signaled. We decided standing in the middle of a huge glass structure was not the place to be. This was the second tornado outbreak of the season for Minnesota and unfortunately there was fairly severe damage in north Minneapolis and one person lost their life. After returning home I heard that a funnel cloud passed right over our neighborhood but luckily did not turn into a tornado. We'd gone out for breakfast in the morning and I noticed most mature crab apples have lost many of their flowers already. My flowering crab opened most flowers on Sunday.

What to expect this week:

Watch for the Monarch Butterflies to return around mid-week a few have already been sighted in the state. There are still no cowbird eggs in the phoebe nest we monitor at work which is a good sign. The phoebe eggs should hatch on Wednesday or Thursday. We'll get a break from the severe weather for a few days but we're stuck in this 7 day cycle and it looks like Memorial Day weekend might include thunderstorms. Some predictions sound more severe than others but expect at least a few showers at some point over the weekend.

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