Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday Phenology: May 9, 2011

Posted by Kirk
In theory the sun rose at 5:52 AM this morning but you wouldn't know it with all the rain and thunderstorms. It is incredible to think that the sun is finally rising before the 6:00 hour. I didn't think that would ever come. Keep in mind that if it weren't for Daylight Saving Time the sun would have actually risen at 4:52 AM. That's crazy! The sun will set today at 8:28 PM giving us 14 hours, thirty six minutes and 34 seconds of sunlight. Good thing we get that much light as there's a lot to see.

Last week's reports:

Monday was cold but Yellow-rumped Warblers were working the edges of the lakes at work. They seemed oblivious to the 30 kids down there so they were pretty desperate for food. There were also a few Palm Warblers and Black and White Warblers down there as well. I'd seen an Eastern Towhee down at Nerstrand Big Woods on Saturday so I wasn't too surprised to see a pair of them at work on Monday.

Tuesday things started to warm up and it was finally looking like this winter would end. Just as I got to my desk my phone rang. It was my co-worker Paul telling me to grab my binoculars and come back out to the parking lot. There was a Solitary Sandpiper working the edge of the pond we park near. I also picked up my first of the year Swainson's Thrush while hiking with kids.

I've been focused lately on migration but those migrating birds are heading here to mate. There are many birds singing on territory now. I regularly hear Field Sparrow, Chipping Sparrows, and American Robins singing daily now. The robins were singing at 4:28 am Wednesday morning when I accidentally woke up way too early. Not being as insane or hormonally driven as they are, I went back to sleep. When I got to work I was quickly able to find a Northern Waterthrush in the moat of our bog. They'd been caught by our bird banders earlier in the week so I knew they were around.

Thursday I had a few minutes and was able to find a singing Clay-colored Sparrow. They arrived on territory early in the week. They have a fascinating buzz-buzz call that is easily mistaken for insects.

I took a group of volunteers down to our lake for a canoe/kayak outing and right as I got to the lake shore I heard a familiar call and my co-worker Kelly and I spotted the first of the year Baltimore Oriole on site. Interestingly it was in the exact same tree the oriole's nested in two summer's ago. While on our paddle we noted a lot of Swamp Sparrows. We also saw at least one eaglet in the Bald Eagle nest and noted the return of a pair of Trumpeter Swans to the lake. A pair fo trumpeters showed up last summer and stayed the entire season. We don't think they nested. I suspect these are the same two birds and I hope they nest this year. Unfortunately for them, Bald Eagles have been known to eat cygnets. My co-worker Paul reports Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Blue-headed Vireo and Veery on site as well as.

Saturday I walked around Lake Calhoun for the Great Strides for Cystic Fibrosis walk. Of course, I brought my binoculars. The only warblers I saw were Yellow-rumps and a couple of Western Palm Warblers but there were lots of American Coots on the lake as well as my first of the year Ruddy Ducks. Later in the day I headed back to work to take some Girl Scouts canoeing and along the way spotted my first of the year Eastern Meadowlark.

Sunday, the dandelions bloomed very quickly. I didn't notice them in the morning and by lunch the yard was covered in yellow. I heard my first Chimney Swifts of the year in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul but I see on the Chimney Swift migration website that someone reported them in Bloomington, MN back on April 24. While celebrating Mother's day in Eagan I was pleased to see all manner of birds at my Aunt and Uncle's bird feeders. Most notable was a Pine Siskin still hanging around and my first of the year Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

What to expect this week:
The second wave of warblers should come into the twin cities so watch for increasing numbers. Early reports of Blackburnian, Black-throated Green, Common Yellowthroats and Northern Parula warblers have already come in so their numbers should increase this week. This also means increasing insects because this is what they are coming to eat. Also this week we'll see a lot of tree starting to open their leaves. This means get out there while the bird watching is good because our clear view of the tree canopy is about to be obscured by foliage. If you haven't already stopped to notice the woodland wildflowers, this could be your week. Rue Anemone, Wood Violets and more will all be blooming. Keep your eye open for territorial fighting as well. This weekend I observed Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and Downy Woodpeckers fighting (amongst their own species not with each other.) They can make quite a racket as they chase each other out of territories.